Meet your Rep: Join a Town Hall Meeting
Congress left Washington last week for their annual August recess — but it doesn’t mean they are on vacation.
Members of Congress are in their districts meeting constituents at town halls, constituent coffees or other events. All events are a great opportunity for you to find out more about their position on biking, share with them biking success stories in your community, and ask their support for a local project in your community.
Town Halls are often a little more formal, set up like a lecture with an opportunity to stand up and ask a question at a microphone. Constituent coffees are often a little more relaxed with the member of Congress working through the room to talk with constituents. Either format is a good chance to reach out and speak with your member of Congress.
To find out what events your Representative or Senator is planning this month click here, enter your zip code and then click on your member of Congress. Under the “contact” tab it will list both their Washington, D.C. and district offices. You can call their district office.
Tips for attending a Town Hall or Constituent Coffee
- Prepare your question ahead of time: Before you arrive write down your question. It will show you are knowledgeable about the issue, and will give your Representative a better opportunity to respond. At a Constituent coffee you may have time to engage in some conversation. Try to focus the conversation on one or two points.
- Be polite and professional: This is only one conversation in the relationship you are building with your member of Congress. The more professional you are the better impression you make for yourself and for people who ride bikes.
- Follow up with the member of Congress and his/her staff: Call or email the office after the meeting to ask follow up questions, offer any additional resources- such as a fact sheet, the website of your local organization, and an invitation to an event.
- Share your experience: Write a short blog or newsletter article for your local advocacy organization – and for the League- and once its published send the link to the Representative’s office.
Need help coming up with a question? Try this, “In our state of XX, YY percent of all deaths on our roadways are bicyclists and pedestrians, and yet our state spends only ZZ% of our Highway safety funding on pedestrian and bicycling improvements. Last year Congress passed a law requiring the U.S. Department of Transportation to set safety performance measures. Would you support requiring a separate safety performance measures to reduce non-motorized deaths?”
Here’s a chart to help you fill in the X,Ys and Zs.