We caught up with Rep. Earl Blumenauer as he whizzed down the street during his Friday commute to Capitol Hill.
(And by “we” I mean my colleague and cycling enthusiast Ed Felker, who puts the pedal to the pavement rain or shine and kindly wore a GoPro for the occasion.)
It was Bike to Work Day in D.C., and riders were out in force, drawn by the promise of free bagels and T-shirts at 115 pit stops scattered around the region.
It’s not clear whether Blumenauer managed to snag a coveted bagel before the carbs ran out. (“Get there early,” advises the Washington Area Bicyclist Association, a sponsor of the event.)
But the Oregon Democrat did dismount to address a crowd gathered at Freedom Plaza on Pennsylvania Avenue. Cities need better infrastructure — such as protected bike lanes — to keep up with the enthusiasm of new riders, he said.
The congressman isn’t just a trailblazer who proved that yes, you can ride a bike in a bow tie. He’s also the co-leader of the Congressional Bike Caucus.
Despite gains made by cyclists throughout the city, problems still abound for congressional bike commuters. For starters, there isn’t a protected lane for bikers to cross over from Union Station to the rest of the Hill.
“I have long advocated for the Louisiana Ave bike lane connecting Union Station, Capitol Hill and the National Mall,” Blumenauer said Friday in a statement, after successfully completing his journey. “I’ve also focused on ensuring members and staff have adequate bike parking spaces and facility access.”
He’s also working to restore and expand the bike commuter tax benefit. “There is always more that can be done to incentivize people to bike more, but we are making progress.”