The annual fundraiser breakfast kicks off Cascade Bicycle Club’s Bike Month events. This year’s keynote speaker was Oregon Congressman Earl Blumenauer, who has been instrumental in legitimizing bicycles as a serious mode of transportation in the country.
“If we’re going to reach the potential of the most efficient form of transportation … we’re gonna have to be much more aggressive about bringing the message home,” Blumenauer told the crowd. A person in a bike lane means one less person clogging the roads, and removing one parking space to fit ten bike parking spots means nine extra people can access the business. So why is this bipartisan, business-friendly message not getting across more effectively?
He also pointed out the growing strength of bicycle advocacy both locally and nationally. This is the first year that over half of congress is a member of the bike caucus, and those members are from both political parties (Blumenauer dubs this “bike partisanship”).
Cascade’s Executive Director Chuck Ayers spoke of Seattle’s need to to better if we want to remain a top bicycling city.
“Seattle should not be behind DC, Chicago and New York,” he said. All those cities have invested in bike share and downtown cycle tracks. Seattle might hold the #2 spot on the bike commute mode share list, but other cities are doing things that could leave us in the dust if we don’t act and make bold investments.
Let’s face it, it’s getting embarrassing that there are no safe bicycle facilities downtown. If we want to see bike commute numbers skyrocket, we need to connect our region’s largest employment center with the rest of our bicycle network.
Ayers also introduced a new Cascade program called BizCycle, which will help employers better accommodate cycling. The program includes a “LEED-style” certification program that employers can earn as well as a guide to help businesses do better at encouraging their employees to bike. Studies consistently show that employees who bike to work take fewer sick days and are more alert and productive.
The breakfast also included a wonderful video featuring several local advocates for cycling, including Brooks Stanfield of Burien, Oliyad Beyene of Seatac and good Seattle Bike Blog friend Madi from Family Ride:
(P.S. Special thanks to Commute Seattle for offering me a last-minute spot at their table!)