While the on-again, off-again early spring may continue to frustrate us on a daily basis, dedicated advocates continue to work behind the scenes to make certain that every day is a great day for bicycling.
Three largest advocacy groups agree to merge as one powerful voice for cycling. This past Tuesday, an announcement was made that the League of American Bicyclists, Bikes Belong, and the Alliance for Biking and Walking have reached an agreement to combine their respective strengths into a single organization.
If you are a member or supporter of any or all of these groups, you recognize that each offers a similar mission - encouraging more people to bike and making the US safer for those who choose to do so - but approaches their objectives in slightly different manners. Combining the considerable resources of all three and speaking with one unified voice should prove most effective in achieving the goals of cyclists.
The recent legislative defeats in both the House and the Senate have demonstrated that when it comes to lobbying, the stakes for retaining transportation enhancement funding have never been higher. While bicyclists and pedestrians are content with 2% of Federal transportation funds to match state, local, and advocacy group contributions to cover the costs of our infrastructure needs, lobbyists with other interests demand the full 100%. Freight shippers, highway builders, and Big Oil open their negotiations by demanding our share and mass transit's share and end up with more than they started with. Mass transit's lobbying is strong and unwilling to give in, so the gains of others come at our expense.
I'm not implying that the three separate organizations were weak in the past. To the contrary; LAB's efforts mobilized nearly 20,000 supporters to exert pressure on their respective elected officials while its action page made it fast and easy to do so. But as a group, cyclists are a small lobby. We need one strong organization to communicate our needs succinctly and fight for our funding. Combining resources won't help us win the fight - it will help us win another round so that we may remain in the fight.
Thanks to the LAB and other lobbying groups, the House of Representative's controversial 5-year transportation funding bill has been permanently shelved! Breaking news this morning confirms that we have indeed won another round in the transportation funding battle.
Transportation for America is reporting "that Speaker Boehner and House Leadership have shelved their 5-year transportation bill in favor of a possible 2-year proposal — as well as potentially dropping the controversial provision that would eliminate dedicated public transportation funding."
While this may seem like a victory for our side, we're not out of the woods yet. A 2-year proposal could still ace bicyclists from our funding and include any of the top ten issues identified with the original bill. Please continue to keep pressure on your local representatives through the LAB's action page.
The Active Transportation Alliance continues to improve bicycling throughout the Chicagoland area. Yesterday, the ATA announced approval of two new bike plans for the Northwest suburbs.
The Northwest Municipal Conference approved a plan to follow new, uniform, and high tech signage for regional bicycle corridors. It also adopted a recommendation for "a series of bike facilities—including sidepaths, bike lanes and signed bike routes—to provide a continuous, 20 mile bicycle corridor between Barrington and Park Ridge."
Thank you ATA staff and all the volunteers throughout the Northwest suburbs who contributed to these fine plans!
Mark Your Calendar for Upcoming Cycling Events:
Saving Tiny Hearts' Spin for Tiny Hearts indoor cycling event on Sunday, March 11th in Highland Park.
Keep riding and be safe!
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