by Scott MacRae, MD
I attended the League of American Cyclists National Bike Summit in Washington, DC, again this year, seeing old friends and meeting new ones with over 400 attendees. If you have never attended, it’s a fantastic opportunity to get more educated on the issues of our times as well as network with very sophisticated bike, walking, and transportation experts. This year was no exception. I attended sessions on fundraising, self driving vehicles, and other issues, but the best information came from my one-on-one discussions with participants.
First of all, federal funding won’t change remarkably in the near future since the bill signed last year was a five-year, $305 billion ($60 billion/year) program. The Republicans would need to go back and redo the bill which is not likely, at least for now, since they are busy with other things. It’s felt that the funding will be safe for a year or two, and there is a possibility that the funding might increase because many Republicans, many Democrats and President Trump like the idea of a $1 trillion infrastructure campaign. Whether this will ever happen is questionable since the funding source is unclear. Biking amd walking could benefit if they can keep a fraction of that investment.
On lobby day visited I visited the offices of five members of Congress: Rep. Louise Slaughter, Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, Sen. Charles Schumer, and two others. Every visit was helpful. The meeting with Sen. Schumer’s transportation expert was very impressive. We spent an hour (that’s a lot!!) in Sen. Shumer’s main office, discussing in detail what needs to happen. She emphasized that the $1 trillion infrastructure bill needs to give cash rather than tax credits. Tax credits are more complicated, less direct and may not go directly to the intended project. She encouraged us to continue emphasizing in our public interviews and forums that we are in dire need of infrastructure improvements, including funding for smart streets, transit, biking and walking infrastructure.
During one luncheon, I sat at a topics table labeled “Biking and Transit”. After lunch I spent half an hour with the Active Transportation Manager from the State of Utah and described our hope for bike infrastructure on the new Main Street, as well as the potential conflict with buses turning onto Clinton Ave. She has designed lots of bike-bus conflicts in Salt Lake City and is essentially a neutral expert. A sharrow, with good markings discouraging cyclists from riding to the right of turning buses, was the solution she recommended. Preliminary discussions with the city indicate that they can probably use good National Association of City Transportation Officials design recommendations to make this happen. Very interesting to have a neutral third-party comment.
One of the most interesting presentations was from the Colorado’s City of Fort Collins Group by Jamie Gaskill–Fox. The group has created a 90-minute Bicycle Friendly Driver Program to educate transit, truck, fleet, and police drivers about best practices when dealing with bikes and pedestrians. This was music to my ears since local organizations like the Rochester Regional Transit Service the Rochester Police Department, and UPS could participate. We have been in discussions with the city encouraging them to hire a full time bike-ped coordinator, and this would be a perfect program for that person.
All in all it was a very productive two days and I’d strongly encourage you to attend next year’s National Bike Summit. It will be well worth your time, and it’s lots of fun!