Last week, like many other cyclists and cycling advocates from all corners of the country, Carol Wentworth, Senior Vice President of Marketing for Performance Bicycle, headed up to Washington, DC, to take part in the 2012 National Bike Summit. Organized by the League of American Bicyclists, this annual, and growing, event serves as a forum and meeting place for a wide variety of cycling advocates and industry leaders. Summit attendees got to meet with fellow advocates and organizers, and to learn more about both the challenges and opportunities to improve cycling safety and awareness. Breakout sessions at the summit covered topics as varied as calculating the value of bicycle tourism, mountain biking access to national parks, and even a session about pro cycling advocacy featuring cyclocross star Tim Johnson (fresh off of his Ride on Washington, an awareness and fundraising ride from Boston to DC).
Of course one of the main reasons for the summit was to take this pro-cycling message to the decision makers in government. As a board member of Bikes Belong, a leading cycling advocacy group made up of members from the U.S. cycling industry, Performance was there to not only participate in the National Bike Summit discussions, but also to advocate for dedicated federal funding for cycling projects. In addition to scheduled group sessions that included members of the Congressional Bike Caucus (which is led by cyclist and advocate Rep. Earl Blumenauer, whom we met earlier this year during his visit to North Carolina), Carol directly met with representatives from our home state of North Carolina. In these meetings we pushed for continued support of dedicated federal funding for bicycling and walking, especially in the upcoming federal transportation budget. This dedicated funding is a tiny portion of the overall transportation budget, only 1.5%, even though 12% of trips are made by foot and bike. The message we brought was that public investment and pro-cycling policies are good for business and the community, and also essential for the continued success of programs such as transportation enhancements, safe routes to school and recreational trails.
The National Bike Summit brought together passionate cycling advocates from across the country, giving each of us a sense of the power and influence cyclists can exert when we rally together to support a common cause. Events such as the National Bike Summit help spread the word that policies and projects that support cycling are good not just for cyclists, but for an entire spectrum of stakeholders.