Monday, December 31, 2007

Wall Street Journal: Earl Blumenauer Profile



From the Wall Street Journal, 12.29.07:

For Congressman, Life in Bike Lane Comes Naturally
Earl Blumenauer of Oregon Rides to the White House; Look Out for Motorcades

Some members of Congress come to Washington and get in the fast lane. The 59-year-old (Earl) Blumenauer came to Washington and got in the bike lane. Few members of Congress care more than he does about cranks and sprockets. Mr. Blumenauer's "obsession with bicycling borders on the interesting," sniffed TV satirist Stephen Colbert.

"Bikeman," a House colleague from Oregon calls him. Mr. Blumenauer owns seven bikes. His congressional office is one of the few -- if not the only one -- that didn't even apply for a parking permit. On occasion, Mr. Blumenauer has cycled to the White House. On Mr. Blumenauer's first visit, the Secret Service, more accustomed to limousines, was flummoxed at the sight of his bike. "I leaned it up against the portico," Mr. Blumenauer says.

Mr. Blumenauer has been a pedal pusher since his days on the Portland City Council, when he pressed for more bike lanes and set an example by riding around in his suit and a big bow tie. When Mr. Blumenauer arrived in Washington in 1996, he didn't bring a car. Soon he was preaching the benefits of pedaling.

He launched the Congressional Bike Caucus, a bipartisan group that promotes public investment in cycling. In his early days, he tracked down Speaker Newt Gingrich in the House gym to pitch transit-fare subsidies for House workers. He got them. As the ranks of the Bicycle Caucus have grown -- there are now more than 170 members -- money for bike projects has grown, more than doubling during his time in office.

In his more than 10 years in Congress, Mr. Blumenauer says he has saved tens of thousands of dollars by not driving, money that helped pay for the townhouse he bought. And when he cycles across town to an event, he often gets there faster than his friends in Congress do. (Read more.)
We certainly need more people in Congress like Earl Blumenauer. The article also details Representative Blumenauer's unsuccessful efforts to date to pass the Bicycle Commuter Act, which would encourage employer benefits to bicycling employees, comparable to those received by workers who enjoy a "free" parking space or a discounted transit pass.

Visit: Wall Street Journal: Building a Better Bike Lane
Visit: Paul Dorn's Bike Commuting Tips
Thanks to Bike Commute Tips Blog reader Jack Painter, for sending the link to this article.

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