Cycling advocates head to National Bike Summit

By Ashley Halsey
Washington Post Staff Writer
Monday, March 7, 2011; 6:56 PM

Bicycling advocates will arrive en masse in Washington on Tuesday for the annual National Bike Summit, three days of planning and lobbying that made news last year when Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood climbed onto a table to address the group.

LaHood, 65, an avid bicyclist, will return to speak at the summit but promised no gymnastic repeat.

“You only do that once,” he said recently. “I’ll find some other way to get their attention.”

Proponents of urban bike lanes and expansion of bike networks that would encourage recreational and commuter cycling feel particularly vulnerable as Congress and the Obama administration propose billions in budget cuts.

The administration, with LaHood taking the lead, has promoted cycling and other programs – including mass transit and high-speed rail – that provide alternatives to automotive travel.

Congress this month extended a stopgap transportation funding bill to the end of the current fiscal year, but whether it will find the will to approve a long-term transportation bill this year is clouded in the debate over how to pay for it.

Bike advocates fear their programs may not receive adequate funding or that federal mandates requiring states to include bike lanes in construction projects will be dropped.

The bike summit, convened annually by the League of American Bicyclists, will begin with a series of meetings and seminars at the Grand Hyatt hotel in Washington on Tuesday and Wednesday before members head to lobby Capitol Hill on Thursday.