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Cycling. Is it the new golf among Legislators?
TBC staff coordinated their fourth successful NCSL Bipartisan Bike Ride in Boston this past August. The early morning eight-to-ten mile rides have become so popular that TBC had to rent extra bikes for the Boston event to supplement its fleet of 50 TREK hybrids. Since 2005, TBC has provided rides for other NCSL (National Conference of State Legislators) conventions in Seattle, Nashville and San Antonio.
The Boston ride provided an hour-long tour of Copley Square, Old Ironsides, and the Boston Commons for thirty elected officials and thirty five legislative staff and family members. Riders ranged from our hard-core cycling compadres all the way to legislators who haven't been on a bicycle since childhood. TBC staff especially enjoy riding with the latter who at times have to put full focus on the effort but feel such pride at the end for having covered a full ten miles.
The rides accomplish at least three important goals. First, TBC executes a fun event that Texas legislators active in NCSL are proud to host. TBC friends and State Senators Rodney Ellis, Jeff Wentworth and Leticia Van de Putte are very active in NCSL affairs as well as in bicycle issues in Texas.
Second, TBC works with other bicycle advocacy organizations, such as Bicycle Alliance of Washington, Walk/Bike Nashville, and MassBike, to help them showcase their hometowns for local legislators and build relationships. TBC provides the bikes, staff support and marketing for the event, while the hometown folks typically develop routes and provide the experienced local cyclists to marshal the rides.
Third, the two-wheeled chats with legislators have brought visible progress toward bike "wins" such as bike racks on buses (Houston in Spring 2007,) NCSL Complete Streets policy papers (Winter 2007) and Safe Passing/3 ft Laws [passed in Tennessee and passed out of both Texas House and Senate Transportation Committees (but not final passage) this past session in Texas.]
"Cycling is shaping up to be the new golf" reported TBC Executive Director Robin Stallings. "Cycling has such a broad appeal that in its purest form, in this case having fun and sightseeing with your colleagues, it cuts across the entire political spectrum." Senator Dorsey Ridley from Kentucky was so pleased with the ride that he arranged for the Governor of Kentucky to commission five TBC staff, and MassBike Executive Director, David Watson as official Kentucky Colonels.
Stallings expressed his appreciation to BNSF Railway, General Mills, Wal-Mart and Allied Waste for their support of the NCSL Bipartisan Bike Ride in Boston.