Senator Craft Goes to Washington (and other places too)...


Senator Craft Goes to Washington (and other places too)...

Michael Craft (pictured left) is the NPO and bicycle advocacy liaison for the Tour de Fat, and he is, generally, all about bikes (and a proud employee owner of New Belgium Brewing). And today he's the guest blogger here at Below is his re-cap of Bike Summit Season (that's a thing). Take it in, enjoy the good word of bicycle advocacy, and know that people like Craft are fighting the good fight for all of us lackeys who just like to ride bikes and not think about politics... 

Take it away Craft––>

It’s hard to believe that Bike Summit season is over and the Tour de Fat season is about to start, for me at least. This year’s Bike Summit season started off in Denver Colorado, where Bicycle Colorado hosted their 2nd (now annual!) fantastic event, February 6th and 7th. Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper, the Alliance for Biking and Walking’s Jeff Miller and USA Pro Cycling Challenge's CEO Shawn Hunter welcomed all of us to a sold-out event at the Curtis Hotel. We spent the afternoon talking about how to become effective bicycle advocates and how to ask our representatives for their support. As many of you know, every politician wants to hear about two things: money and jobs. Luckily, bicycling represents those two items very well, specifically to the tune of $1.2 Billion dollars annually in Colorado.

The day ended with some tasty brews from New Belgium. Dig made its debut, and folks definitely “dug” it. Twenty years ago, we put a bicycle on our Fat Tire label because we love bikes. I don’t think anyone could have foreseen what an iconic image of sustainability the bicycle has become. Promote what you love and be sure to love what you promote, luckily for us at New Belgium, that’s beers and bicycles. Tuesday was the day at the Capitol. Our specific ask this year was to support House Bill 1084 which would end the Hit & Run Loophole. This House Bill would increase the penalty for leaving the scene of a serious bodily injury crash from a class 5

felony to a class 4 making it equivalent to drunk driving. Current Colorado law gives drunk drivers, especially repeat offenders, an incentive to not stop at the scene of a crash and call for help of injured people. Instead, current law rewards drunk drivers with a lesser penalty for fleeing the scene and trying to hide out until they are sober. The consequence of this loophole may be life or death for someone needing immediate medical attention at the scene of a crash.  Bicycle and pedestrian fatalities are four times more likely to be the result of a hit and run than other roadway crashes. HB 1084 goes to a vote in the House Appropriations Committee in a couple weeks.

Two weeks after the Colorado Bicycle Summit, I was off to Madison for the 4th Annual Wisconsin Bike Summit.  Nearly 400 bike enthusiasts from every corner of the state made the trip to the Capitol to learn about bicycle infrastructure and programming, share success stories, and meet with their elected officials to support cycling and ensure every ride we take in Wisconsin is safe, enjoyable, and fun.

The biggest news to the bicycle advocacy world came out this very same week. The Alliance for Biking & Walking, Bikes Belong, and the League of American Bicyclists have agreed that uniting the three organizations would dramatically improve their effectiveness in increasing bicycle use in the US. This is very exciting news, the formation of the “Big Three” into the “Big One” will surely increase everyone’s voice for bicycling into a more effective, and better represented, unified front. No news just yet on what they will be calling themselves, but I hope it has a superhero ring to it.

Four weeks after the Wisconsin Bike Summit, I was off to our Nation’s Capital for the National Bike Summit. The NBS brought over 800 cyclists from 49 states to show policymakers that bicycling is an important transportation option for a powerful, and growing constituency, in communities all across the Nation. “Bicycling represents a popular, equitable and growing mobility option that creates jobs, cuts healthcare costs and protects 

American families from skyrocketing gas prices.  Still, members of the U.S. House of Representatives are poised to eliminate dedicated funding for cost-effective programs that make bicycling safe and accessible in urban and rural communities across the country.” The ask for our senators and Congressional Representatives was to support the Petri/Johnson amendment which would help preserve less than 1.5% of the entire transportation budget for bicycle and pedestrian efforts.

I think one of the most wonderful things about bicycle advocacy is that it is a bipartisan issue, or “bike-partisan” as we like to call it. Whether you are a Republican or Democrat, it is hard to argue that bicycling couldn’t help the obesity epidemic that is plaguing this country, that bicycling represents thousands of jobs and billions of dollars across our land, and that bicycling is a sustainable vote for the environment.

It certainly doesn’t hurt that the NBS is held in Washington, D.C. What a great city!  If you think our country doesn’t have much history, an afternoon exploring D.C. will prove you wrong. The Cherry Blossoms were in full bloom, adding icing to an already tasty cake. A few personal highlights were seeing many of our Tour de Fat Non-Profit friends, getting to talk about the Tour de Fat having an inaugural show in Yards Park (located behind the Department of Transportation building) on June 16th, and of course enjoying a few tasty brews with passionate bicycle advocates. Special thanks to Director Jarvis of the National Park Service for signing my National Park Passport.  

I’m not anti-car, I’m just pro-bike. I think we can make a difference in the world by making bicycling safer and more accessible, for everyone. Small changes such as making smarter trips in our cars, save errands until multiple stops are necessary, try to be Car-Free a couple times a week, challenge yourself to commute by bike within a 2 or 3 mile radius of your house, soon you’ll instinctively rethink your travel options. I understand the freedom that our cars represent, I love being in charge of my music too, but at least consider carpooling. Riding your bike or walking as your primary form of transportation will be as second-nature to you as recycling. Sooner than later, your face will be sore from smiling and your legs will look increasingly sexy, all thanks to man’s greatest invention: the bicycle…

Thanks for reading,

Michael Craft

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