National Bicycle Summit a success for Missouri delegation

Between the Missouri Bicycle Federation and the St. Louis Bicycle Federation, Missouri had the largest contigent ever representing bicyclists in Washington, DC, at the National Bike Summit this week.
State delegates rally at the National Bike Summit, photo courtesy BikePortland


Read reports of meetings with Senators and Congressmen and other details about MoBikeFed's visit to the National Bike Summit here.

Besides spending 2.5 days in sessions and activities, learning about the issues and latest developments in initiatives like Safe Routes to School, the Nonmotorized Pilot Program, Complete Streets, and Traffic Justice, Missouri's six representatives (Karen, Harold, and Eli Karabell, Lisa Marty, and John Sweet of the St. Louis Bicycle Federation, plus MoBikeFed Executive Director Brent Hugh) officially voted themselves "hardiest state delegation".

That's because we had by far the largest state contigent at Friday afternoon's Summit Bike Ride, which featured pouring rain, near-freezing temperatures, and strong, gusty winds. Three of us from Missouri joined about seven other hardy souls. We rode for two hours and then thawed out for three . . .

Besides the learning and the "fun", we had extensive visits with the legislative assistants of both of Missouri's senators and most of Missouri's 9 representatives.

In these sessions we were able to talk about national initiatives like the Bicycle Commuter Act (just re-introduced, and has a good chance of passage this year) and the Conserve by Bike program.

But in addition we were able to get commitments for key assistance on several local projects, including the "Complete the Katy Trail" initiative and the push to open up Missouri river levees to trail use.

Rep. Russ Carnahan, from the St. Louis area, is an avid bicyclist and I believe he has the potential to be the next Rep. Oberstar or Blumenauer (currently the biggest supporters of bicycling and walking in Congress).

Eli Karabell, age 11, may have been the youngest bicycle delegate there. Besides listening carefully to all the bicycle and pedestrian issues, Eli learned all about Congressman Carnahan's model airplane collection and had the rare chance to go on the floor of the House with Rep. Carnahan.

Senator McCaskill's assistant talked with us for a good hour and was clearly interested in all of our issues.

Congressman Ike Skelton is very interested in the potential to connect the Katy Trail to Kansas City, as that will strongly impact his district.

We thanked Senator Bond for his work in bringing the the Nonmotorized Pilot Program to Missouri and working to develop funding for a new bicycle/pedestrian crossing of the Missouri River in Kansas City.

We also thanked Congressman Hulshof for his work in bringing the Nonmotorized Transportation Pilot Program to Columbia (which is in Hulshof's district).

For details and the latest scoop on the breaking issues and some fascinating new initiatives that came out at the Summit (anyone interesting in Shimano's new cooperative effort, together with three major bicycle manufacturers, to reach out to the 161 million U.S. adults who do not currently bicycle at all?), see the Bike Summit reports on Jonathan Maus's BikePortland blog.

And . . . thinking about next year, we would like to have more Missouri bicyclists here representing our interests.

How would it be to have someone from each of Missouri's nine congressional districts?

The senators' and representatives' ears really perk up when they find out that one of their constituents has taken the trouble to visit with them in person.

If you are at all interested in attending the National Bike Summit in Washington, DC, in March 2008, please contact Brent Hugh--director[at]mobikefed.org.

And many, many thanks to all the supporters and donors to MoBikeFed--who made Executive Director Brent Hugh's trip to represent Missouri bicyclists at the National Bike Summit possible--and to the donors and supporters of the St. Louis Regional Bicycle Federation, who helped make STLBikeFed's strong representation possible this year.

More Bike Summit '07 photos here.