Some Friday Fun with Your Week in Cycling Recap

If this past week of schizophrenic cycling news has left you stressed, take a few minutes to watch this great new video The Man Who Lived On His Bike.  It is guaranteed to put a smile on your face and keep you thinking about bicycling throughout a mild winter weekend.

Kudos to those intrepid cyclists who took their chances with the hazards left behind by melting snow and reveled in the past week's mild temperatures.  We don't need a groundhog - let's make it official that if a cyclist sees his breath there will be six more weeks of winter...

If you are interested in news (and commentary) about Federal funding for bicycling, feel free to read on.  If not, I certainly don't blame you...

How a bill becomes a law another example of partisan politics:

Like many tense cyclists across the country, I turned to Twitter to keep me abreast of the "markup" of the transportation bill working its way through committee yesterday in the House of Representatives.  Every amendment submitted for discussion was commented on by a few people inside the meeting room and others watching it on closed circuit TV.  It evoked the same anxious emotion as listening to a playoff game on the radio.

Late in the morning, the Petri-Johnson Amendment to restore Safe Routes to School and transportation enhancements was defeated 29 to 27 in a House vote.  I'm happy to report that Illinois' Democratic reps Costello and Petri and Republican rep Johnson voted in favor of the amendment.  Republican Randy Hultgren voted against it.

Hultgren's single vote could have resulted in a tie, extending the momentum of the amendment.  Instead, he proved once again that voting the party line is more important to him than representing the wishes of his own constituents.  A big thanks goes out to Representative Johnson for not only crossing party lines, but co-sponsoring an amendment that would benefit the Chicago region and cyclists across the country.

As disappointed as I was to see twenty years of hard fought cycling policy initiatives stripped from the bill, I was aghast at what was to come next.  Nearly every Democratic amendment was disregarded or summarily defeated.  Two thousand Amtrak food service workers were furloughed in place of private contractors.  And for the grand finale,  funding for public transportation was removed from the five-year bill and forced to request questionably available funds on a year-to-year basis (again, it lost by 2 votes).

The quote of the day belongs to Florida Representative Corrine Brown (via Twitter); "this has been the worst day of my life... I'm through... I'm going to do all I can to kill this bill."

And there, my fellow cyclists, lies the silver lining to our cloud.  Three things have to happen before this bill becomes a law; a debate on the House floor, reconciliation with the much more bipartisan Senate bill, and approval by the President.

There is still hope, so don't give up just yet.

I encourage each of you to stay engaged.  If you aren't already following the League of American Bicyclists, you can fan them on Facebook and follow League President, Andy Clarke on Twitter.  You can also sign up for their newsletter.

I found out that I was one of over 18,000 individuals who contacted his/her rep through the LAB's Take Action page.  It was reported as their biggest response to date, but it pales in comparison to the response SOPA and PIPA received.

Thanks for your support of cycling.  Keep riding and be safe!

 

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  • The House Ways and Means committee is now having its way with the Transportation committee's draft. In a vote along party lines, public transit funding has been removed from the Highway Trust fund as the GOP goes for broke in ensuring certain constituents that cities will no longer be subsidized by fuel tax or Rural America (although anyone with an internet connection knows red states receive more federal dollars than they contribute, courtesy of the blue states who receive less).

    You can read more about it here; http://dc.streetsblog.org/2012/02/03/massive-coalition-opposes-house-gop-attempt-to-eviscerate-transit/

    Insiders assure us that this GOP 1950's era policy will not make it on the floor or in a reconciliation with the Senate's bipartisan bill. Still, we can never be too sure about the GOP doubling down - look at the debt ceiling crisis from last year...

    If you're interested in following this more closely, go to Twitter and use the hashtag #transpomarkup.

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