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Our Leaders Acting on a Simple Solution – the Bicycle
The second day of the National Bike Summit has officially kicked off with the opening plenary and inspiring words from Representative Earl Blumenauer (D-OR), Commissioner of the New York City Department of Transportation Janette Sadik-Khan, and Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar. The rally energized and prepared attendees for a “Capitol Hill unlike any before,” said Blumenauer in the plenary’s welcome. However, he reminded all that bicycling has many supporters in D.C. “US Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood…is an ally like we’ve never had before.”
Blumenauer makes the point that in order to make livable communities and bicycling infrastructure a reality, that we need to help people connect to the facts. “Our message is different, and people like it,” said Blumenauer. “If we can do it on Pennsylvania Avenue, maybe we can do it with some of our national treasures.”
Blumenauer closed with reminding Summit attendees to remind their representatives to “not cut what you haven’t visited.”
Keynote speaker Sadik-khan has been busy lately in NYC creating a city that all road users can be safe using. She referenced all the great cities in America that are implementing lanes and infrastructure on their streets, including Pennsylvannia Avenue in D.C., Broadway in NYC, Market St. in San Francisco, and Spruce St. in Philidelphia. She pointed out that “none of this was there five years ago…well maybe in Portland,” but that it takes courage and the tools to make it happen. “It’s painstaking work…there are setbacks but that is to be expected when you are in the business of change.” Luckily, NYC has a mayor that understands the importance of being a bicycle-friendly city. “We have Bloomberg and the political courage.” New York now has 250 miles of new bike lanes.
However, it was Sadik-khan’s big news that wowed the whole crowd — the release of the new NACTO Urban Bikeway Design Guide. “We would like the FHWA to recognize these as national standards and for AASHTO to do the same,” said Sadik-khan. “We will make cycling safe and excessible for everyone.” And that is exactly what this guide will do. For cities that do not have the courage of Bloomberg or Sakik-khan, they will now be able to readily provide for their streets and users — backed with standard guidelines.
Secretary Salazar closed the plenary with a fundamental message for Summit attendees to remember when they visit Capitol Hill on Thursday. “I encourage all of you to put a focal point on all the economics that are involved in bicycling…bicycling is essential.”