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Mr . Chairman
My name is Earl Blumenauer
and I right here live here
in Portland, Oregon,
where I believe that just lately,
because of my longstanding promotion... of the Bicycle
as a Better Way......to Travel around Town
here in Portland,
that I have become known
as Bicycle Blumenauer.
Well, it's true
that I am a kind of an unapologetic
and indeed I am here today
to try to persuade YOU
to get out your automobile
and onto your bicycle,
for your own Benefit,
as well as for the Benefit of your Community,
and indeed your Country.
Now as most of you here today know
I represent most of Portland
as a Democrat in the United States Congress.
I am 60 yrs old,
and I was born and raised in this City,
and I have spent my entire adult life
as a politician, in elected office
representing the good people of this area.
Initially I held various local and State
political positions starting in 1972
as your Member
in the Oregon State House of Representatives
I was there for more than 20 years
through until 1996 ,
when I am proud to say
that I went on to win election
to the United States.... House of Representatives
as your man in Washington, D. C ,
I have been reelected there
five times, every two years,
in each election ...since 1996,
and I am pleased to announce
that I will be running again in the next election,
when I will be asking again
for your kind support.
Now I have been engaged in many political issues
over the course of my career,
but as your federal representative
there is a particular mission
that is close to my heart
that I have been pursuing for a number of years,
and that is my mission
to promote the use of the Bicycle
as a preferred way of getting around town,
whether here in Portland,
or in any other city or town.
And today I want to tell you
that my work on this
is starting to get results.
Now ironically I say this
because of a certain kind of chaos
that I have been seeing lately
around town here in Portland..
and I want to hasten to assure you
that this is what I regard as
a good variety of chaos.
It is a kind of bicycle chaos.
What I am referring to here
is the obvious increase, which anybody can see,
in the use of bicycles by city residents
as a preferred mode of personal transportation
around our beautiful City of Portland.
People are flying through stop signs on their bicycles....Chaos.
There is bicycle congestion in the city streets.....Chaos.
People biking across the river on pedestrian bridges....Chaos.
This city seems to be teeming with.... bicycles.
I love this kind of bicycle chaos
because I am a passionate advocate of cycling
as a remedy for everything
from ..... to personal health problems.
Now I am again proud to say
that in the Congress of the United States,
I am the founder, and the current co-leader,
of something (that you may have heard about) called
the CBC.....the Congressional Bicycle Caucus.
Now there at 535 members of Congress,
in the Senate, and the House,
and of these, believe it or not,
182 are official members
of the Congressional Bicycle Caucus.
1/3 of the total.
If you want to know exactly who they are,
here is the list.
182 members/ from 43 States and D. C.
including....127 Democrats, and 55 Republicans.
The Co-Chair of the CBC
is my friend, Congressman Thomas Petri,
who is a Republican
representing East Wisconsin.
Now in some quarters
this Caucus has been regarded as
shall I say.... a little flaky.
We have been flogging this bicycle thing
for 20 years now,
but just recently this Bicycle Caucus
has started to make progress.... started to come into its own
and I note that this progress has coincided with
the arrival of...hard economic times,
and....gyrating gas prices,
and ...increased interest in physical fitness.
So all of a sudden, in 2009, the CBC is hot...
and apparently..... a little less flaky.
People have been turning away from ....their Automobiles,
and instead, climbing aboard ....their bicycles.
However my goal is greater
than simply putting Americans on two wheels.
To use the modern jargon,
I want to help to promote... a society,
(warning! I am about to use the dreaded 11 letter S word)
which is just a little more...... SUSTAINABLE.
And what does that dreaded word... actually mean?
Well, it's not complicated.
To give a few examples,
a "sustainable" society ...
subscribes to...........the wiser use of energy,
and supports..... farming ....that improves the land
rather than degrades it,
and promotes..... an end to unwise development ,
but A Sustainable Society....
that looks beyond ......the good old.....automobile.
Over the past century,
we have become fixated on.......and mesmerized by....
as the only way to get around.
My Vision ....is that of transportation
that look beyond the gasoline powered Vehicle...
to enVelope ..... other options,
of which the Bicycle.....is only one example.
Now of course
the global financial collapse
has obviously been a disaster... for everyone.
However, if there is any silver lining to this cloud,
our country's financial crisis
is perhaps the best opportunity
we will ever have
to build environmental sustainability
into the nation's infrastructure,
I will give.... just 4 examples,
urban streetcar systems,
bicycle and pedestrian paths,
more efficient energy transmission,
Now, three years ago ,
none of these kinds of sustainability projects,
were practical on a large scale.
when we can no longer count entirely on
and automobile production
to sustain the economy,
these kind of sustainability projects
are much more appealing.
Again, such things as street cars...
more efficient energy transmission....
these things are more affordable,
and they get us where we need to go
in this new century,
if our country, and our planet,
is to have long term success.
A great supporter of these kinds of projects
is one of my fellow biking enthusiasts,
Jim is a Minnesota Democrat,
he is an avid cyclist ...
and... he has Power, because
he is Chairman of the House Committee
on Transportation and Infrastructure in the U.S Congress.
That committee has jurisdiction
over all surface transportation
in our country.
My colleague Jim
has been very strong
in supporting some of these sustainability goals
that I have mentioned.
And, as support for the specific activity of
and the highway construction lobby
have stopped regarding bicycles
as simply a "nuisance"
and started to think about
how they can do business
along these lines,
which in turn
makes Jim Oberstar's job a lot easier
as Chair of that Transportation committee.
So with an eye on a potential stimulus package,
Mr. Oberstar has led our CBC
to compile a list of $2 billion of projects
that can be under construction in 90 days.
An example of an initiative along these lines
which is already underway
is that this fall, after many attempts,
we saw Congress approve
my proposal ...to extend the tax breaks
which are offered to employers...
who encourage their employees....
to bicycle to work.
I call this measure,
a matter of "bicycle parity."
It was part of a bailout bill.....
in other words, part of
an economic package for recovery which was considered by Congress
and which was supported by
the Congressional Bicycle Caucus.
Now as I said I entered Congress in 1996
At that time,
, (remember him?) ,the Newt,
was the Republican Speaker
of the House or Representatives
You may recall that the Government
actually shut down for a short period that year.
Partisan tensions were at an all-time high
and tolerance of another point of view
was at a all-time low.
But believe it or not,
our Bicycle Caucus proved to be a way
to bring people together.
At that time, I worked with my colleague,
who is a Republican and a fellow bicyclist
who represented upstate New York
in Congress until 2007.
Sherwood and I... did a very simple thing
during the 1996 government shutdown...
we both wore the bicycle caucus'
plastic ..bicycle lapel pin... on our jackets.
It's not your average lapel pin...
it is quite large...
you can see it from quite a distance.
You would be amazed at the conversations
that this lapel pin....generated between members
on both sides of the House at that time..
Mr. Boehlert and I.....discovered that Bicycling...is Bipartisan,
which of course should have been no great surprise,
because, when you go down to the bicycle store,
they don't have
Republican bicycles....or Democrat bicycles..
or liberal bicycles....or conservative bicycles..
they just have .....bicycles.
So the activity of ....or the topic of ...
cycling .......brings people together,
regardless of party affiliation.
And that is exactly what happened, to a certain extent,
in 1996, and I think that it was quite helpful.
Now just so you do not think
that I am only.........a one act play,
as I said earlier, my promotion of Cycling
is just one of a number of issues
in which I have been politically active
I have promoted....public broadcasting
as well as...a federally subsidized flood insurance program,
and at one point, believe it or not, I even waded
into the painful politics
of the plight of pollinators , like honeybees!
(I can tell you that I almost got stung on that one!)
Aso, I am a founder of something called
the "livable communities task force"
and the goat of that group
is to educate members of Congress.... and their staffs
on the benefits of..... transportation alternatives,
and ......transparency in government.
....the Livable Communities....Task force.
Now when I first came to Washington
these sorts of interests marked me
as kind of "left coast", as they say,
never mind West coast.
You know, when I rode into the Capitol
on my bicyclein 1996
I might as well have been from another planet.
But lately, I have found that these matters
are becoming more mainstream.
For example, Adam B. Schiff,
is a Democrat
who represents Pasadena, Calif. in Congress.
Adam keeps a home in Maryland,
which is right next door to Washington D. C,
and Adam often rides his bike to work in the Capitol
from his home in Maryland.
Adam Schiff..... has been a great supporter
of these Sustainability goals
in our Bicycle Caucus,
and its very encouraging that along with Adam...
fully 1/3 of Congress....belong to the CBC....
and support these same goals.
When I am at home in my Portland district,
or when I am in Washington
I usually get around by bicycle.
I cycle in all weather,
even in the snow Portland has had recently.
Its interesting that in falling snow
you actually can get more traction,
and it is gratifying that our Congressional Bicycle Caucus
has lately been getting
more political traction in Washington.
But the surge of cycling in Portland
has not been without incident.
For example, The Oregonian newspaper,
as well as Internet bloggers
have reported on a new variety of road rage
called "bicycle rage,"
and there have been instances of ...drunken cyclists....
and.....hit-and-run bicycle accidents
and other problems....
And of course clearly that kind of bicycle chaos
needs to be dealt with.
Drivers sometimes complain about cyclists.
But you know,
bicyclists are burning calories, not fossil fuel.
and.....they are taking up a lot less space on the streets,
and..... they are seeing the world at 10 mph,
not 30, or 60
Cyclists have fought for , and deserve,
their place on the asphalt.
So , Fellow TM and Honoured Guests,
I hope..... that tonight .........I have given you a taste
of my Passion....for the Bicycle .....
as a Vehicle ......for some Measure of ....Salvation ..
here in America.
When you get home tonight,
get on that Bicycle,
and see what you can do!