Balms Away! I'm off to Congress for Bikes

I’m heading to DC again to attend, participate, live Tweet, and blogify the National Bike Summit hosted by The League of American Bicyclists. The event culminates with a day of lobbying Congress for cycling programs.

I wasn’t certain if I’d be able to go this year. I put off even thinking about it.

But something weird kept happening.

I have this tube of lip balm that’s two years old. I bought it in DC at the Bikestation at Union Station where Bike the Sites rents bikes (plus bike child trailers, trailer cycles, wheelchairs, and even Segways) to tourists.

DC Bikestation
DC Bikestation | Photo: Silver Spring Trails

(I don’t use lip balm that often, so yes, it can last me for two years.)

And in addition to having a delicious coconut flavor, it’s kind of a memento of my first Bike Summit — the day Tom Bowden and I had burritos and solved the world’s problems.

One day this winter I must have stuffed that tube into my coat pocket on the way to work.

Coming home a few days later, I noticed something in the snow-packed gutter by the bike lane. It was my lip balm. It must have fallen out of my pocket, got buried in the plowed snow, only to be revealed days later as the snow was melting.

Bike the Sites Balm

I picked it up, put it in my jacket pocket and pondered two things:

  1. Should I think about going to the Bike Summit this year?
  2. Would it be gross to still use this lip balm?

And then I immediately forgot both of these ponderings. Also, before I reached my house, the balm must have fallen out of my coat pocket — again.

A day or two later, there it was — again! In the snow — again. This time just off the sidewalk near my house.

Listen to the balm, I thought.

So I checked in with my sponsors from last year. I know it’s kind of last minute, I pleaded, slightly embarrassed, but do you think we could do this thing again where I go to the Bike Summit, learn some advocacy stuff, act like a big shot lobbyist, and then blog about it?

And the answer was, Yes, Ted. Go forth and fight the good fight for bikes.

The other answer, from my wife, was, No, Ted. It’s not too gross to use that lip balm.

And the thing about the word balm is, as a verb also means to soothe and to restore.

Soothe and restore.

The theme of this year’s Bike Summit is “Bicycling Means Business.” The League says:

In pure economic terms, bicycling pours billions of dollars into the U.S. economy, creating jobs and boosting community development from coast to coast. In political terms, bicyclists mean business, too. The united voice of the bike industry, event directors, local riding clubs and advocacy groups is a powerful constituency.

And the context, of course, is that last year Congress slashed funding from the transportation bill for bicycling projects and programs. Not to mention the self-inflicted damage that Congress has just done to all Federal funding of everything in the form of a filibuster to stop a plan that would have prevented the dreaded sequester.

My goal — and the goal of the advocates converging on DC next week — is to convince Congress of the economic and business case for cycling. Which kind of assumes they would be positively inclined to hear an economic case for anything. (Remember: These are the some of same people who have just allowed a policy to go into effect that is economically harmful on purpose.)

But forth I will go.

If they say that cycling is for recreation, we will balm them with our charm and data on cycling for transportation.

If they say that cycling takes money away from essential transportation projects, we will balm them with hard numbers on the cost benefit of bike projects relative to projects strictly for motor vehicles.

I will be active on all of these social channels, so if you want to keep up on the Bike Summit, be sure to follow one or more of these:

  • @Commute_by_Bike on Twitter — for anything that occurs to me while I’m there. My usual penetrating insight into the soul of bike commuting.
  • Campfire Cycling on Facebook — for anything that occurs to me, but mixed with cute bikey posts from other co-workers who are holding down the shop.
  • @FlagstaffBiking on Twitter — for good re-tweets, as determined by Flagstaff Biking Organization (see below).
  • Flagstaff Biking Organization on Facebook — for posts relevant to Flagstaff and Northern Arizona, as determined by yours truly. This may be a little more mountain-bike oriented than you are used to from me. (Tip: “RTP” refers to the “Recreational Trails Program” of the Federal Highway Administration)

And there will be a few posts to this blog as well.

Balms away!

My participation in this years’ National Bike Summit was made possible by these sponsors.

Campfire Cycling Flagstaff Biking Organization Bike Virginia

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