It's not a surprise to anyone that bicycling - for both commuting and leisure - is growing in Portland.
It's also growing as a political force -- from the Bicycle Transportation Alliance, to
Bike/Walk PAC Bike Walk Vote, to our own Congressman Earl Blumenauer's chairmanship of the Congressional Bicycle Caucus.
The Oregonian editorializes today about the rise of bicyclists as a political power:
How do you convert biking muscle into political muscle? It's a longstanding question in Portland. But more people all across the country are now asking it, too. And as some of them converge in Washington, D.C., this week [for the National Bike Summit], they're looking to Portlanders for answers. ...
The group will be delivering a powerful message to Congress, though: It's time for the nation to invest more transportation dollars in bicycling. The good causes that converge behind this banner are becoming almost too numerous to list, from reducing global warming to reducing the nation's waistline....
Rep. Earl Blumenauer, D-Ore., looked rather lonely when he first went off to Washington, D.C., with his bicycle in tow. Not anymore. Founder of the Congressional Bike Caucus, now more than 170 strong, he's starting to look prescient with his conviction that the greatest cities on Earth are built around bicycles and pedestrians, not cars.
Increasingly, the question is whether this region will be ready for the next wave of commuter bicyclists, drawn to biking not as a craze or cause or sport, but as a bargain. It's just plain cheaper. According to Blumenauer, bike commuters annually save on average $1,825 in auto-related costs, not to mention reducing their carbon emissions by 128 pounds, conserving 145 gallons of gasoline and sparing themselves 50 hours of gridlock.