The opening day of the League of American Bicyclists National Bike Summit began with some orientation meetings for first time attendees. They are introduced to the basics of lobbying: be positive, convey a clear message, relate it to the district, make one or two “asks,” and don’t be surprised if you end up meeting with staff and they appear to be 15 years old.
Washington, DC is an interesting place. Most of the day-to-day operations of our nation are left in the hands of quite young staff workers. Many legislative aides on transportation are in their early twenties. But this young age, these staff workers are some of the best and the brightest our county has produced. I was sitting next to two such “kids” at the opening dinner. Dressed in inexpensive suits and ties, one was the press person for the night’s guest speaker, Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood, and the other was the Secretary’s advance person. In the course of polite dinner chatter, our conversation drifted to Wisconsin’s current political issues.
Justin, the press manager, was impressively up to date on the happenings back in the Badger State. I filled him in on a few details, but he was quick to jump in with hard numbers from the recent Rassmussen Poll that showed the majority of the public does not support Governor Walker’s attempt to remove collective bargaining. Justin also said he is about as pro-union as you can get, very cool for such a young professional.
For his part, Sec. LaHood was very positive and encouraging, something bicyclists have come to expect from this Republican from Peoria, IL. Reader’s of LaHood’s Facebook page or his Fast Lane blog knows that LaHood is somebody who really understands the benefits of active transportation, transit and livable communities. LaHood is a bit famous among transportation wonks for jumping up on the table at last year’s summit and declaring “this is the end of favoring motorized transportation at the expense of non-motorized.” For his efforts, the LAB presented LaHood with their “Oberstar Award.”
I got to the conference using Washington’s great Metra subway system. It actually took me to the Metro Center station, and all I had to do was take the escalator upstairs to get into the Grand Hyatt where the summit sessions are being held. Because I did not bring one of my folding bikes this year, to get around DC, I simply hopped on on the Capital Bikeshare. For $15 bucks I am now able to ride anywhere I need to go around our nation’s Capital on a comfy three-speed bike.
Switching gears to the fledgling Milwaukee adovcacy group we are trying to name, I appreciate all the suggestions that have come in and apologize for not getting the survey up yet. Jessica from the Bike Fed and I have not had the time to sit down and work out the Survey Monkey issues. I still hope to do that with her today.
That said, “52″ is really growing on me. The more I think about it the more I like it. Naming our group after the 50% of all trips made by car that are 2 miles or less really seems to get to the heart of selling bicycling for transportation and still leaves the door open for people interested in transit pedestrian advocacy as well. It can also help dispel the common myth that you can’t bike 52 weeks a year.
I have also been thinking that it might offer some pretty
cool logo opportunities. I also like the sort of mystery about it. It kind of begs people to ask you why you named it “52″ and then you get to give your 50%/2mile elevator statement. I will still try to get the survey up and going, but perhaps if the majority of people agree 52 would be good, we can skip the whole name selection process and get right into a Facebook page and ride planning. What do folks think? Can we just go with 52 or should I still put up the survey. I would like consensus on this given we are still number less than 20 people.