“This is chance to prove that the [bike] movement is real,” bike-friendly US House legislator from Oregon Earl Blumenauer told Bike Portland as GOP lawmakers push a much-maligned transportation bill through the US House (including Dave Reichert of Washington’s 8th District, covering much of King and Pierce Counties including most of the Eastside).
Changes currently under consideration in the House include elimination of bike/walk funding, Safe Routes to School (which Blumenauer has championed) and eliminating guaranteed transit funding. You would think the fact 100 percent of Americans use sidewalks would have been enough to have this bill laughed out of town. Instead, it passed committee votes and is headed to the floor. Because, you know, kids walking and biking to school are obviously the people bankrupting our nation.
But Republicans are a little split on the bill, and Transportation Secretary (and Republican) Ray LaHood called the bill the worst transportation bill he’s seen in decades and “the most partisan transportation bill that I have ever seen.” The only people happy with it are — you guessed it — Big Oil, trucking and big box retail.
But Blumenauer sees this fiasco as an opportunity for biking, walking and transit to test the nationwide network we’ve been building.
Reflecting on the actions of his Republican colleagues over the past two days, Blumenauer said, “I don’t think they had a clue about what they were doing.” While he was understandably baffled at what has transpired, he’s already thinking ahead to what this means to the national bicycling movement.
The way Blumenauer sees, the direct threats to bicycling and transit should galvanize a nationwide response. “We’re going to see if the networks we’ve been building around the country translate into something,” he said.
“If we do it right,” he added, “I think we’ll come out of this stronger. If not, it could really complicate the next two years.”