What are we talking about today?

I'll get back to theme days once I find a groove of posting regularly. In the meantime, most of my posts are about some variation of books, bikes, buses, or Broadway. Plus bits about writing, nonprofits, and grief from time to time.

This blog is mostly lighthearted and pretty silly. It's not about the terrible things happening in the world, but please know that I'm not ignoring those things. I just generally don't write about them here.

16 February 2012

Congressman Oberstar at the Texas Trails Conference

Yesterday, when I was writing about the Mission ride, I was referring back to my tweets from the day of the event to refresh my memory. One of my coworkers asked, "So you were tweeting to your future self?"

Yes. Yes, I was. Thanks, Past Su. Present Su appreciates your foresight.

Sadly, this is the last of my posts about the Texas Trails and Active Transportation Conference. On the off chance that you've managed to avoid the previous four posts: San Antonio B-Cycle; Bogata, Seville, and Dallas; Texas Senator Rodney Ellis; Mission Trail Ride in San Antonio.

Today: Former U.S. Representative Jim Oberstar.

Representative Oberstar and BikeTexas' Fernando
Martinez at the end of the Mission Trail ride.
Rep. Oberstar was the keynote speaker at dinner (which was delicious, BTW). Earlier in the day, he had been on the bike ride (the ride was called "Riding with the Stars". He was one of the stars. It took me the entire day to figure this out) and I happened to be near him when we stopped for a second. I immediately whipped out my phone to send a tweet and chatted with him a bit before another man walked up and said something like, "It's an honour to meet you, Congressman. Can I get a picture with you?" I then became the designated picture-taker for a couple of minutes until we shoved off again, all the while thinking, "Congressman? Did that guy say Congressman?" Yes, he did. I don't think one needs to speak differently to civil servants, but I wish I'd said something more intelligent than, "I'm posting this on Twitter."

Robin Stallings, BikeTexas Executive Director, and
Congressman Oberstar. Source: BikeTexas / Ann Harkness
Anyway. So Rep. Oberstar took the mic and began with a nice history lesson: "Forty-three years ago, a man stepped on the moon, but he couldn't have biked to work safely." (My personal aside: The astronauts living in Houston still can't.) Twenty years ago, Rep. Oberstar was pushing for grassroots activism for cycling. From 1971 to 1991, the U.S. invested $40 million in cycling; since '91, it's been more like $3 billion. I can't tell you how much I appreciate that, as a daily user of some of the bike lanes and other cycling-friendly improvements that came from Austin investing in cycling. The result in Oberstar's home state (Minnesota) is pretty impressive: Minneapolis is one of the top cities in the U.S. for cycling.

Rep. Oberstar said that cycling should be "inclusive and bipartisan." He shared some statistics with us: In 2010, more bikes were sold in the U.S. than cars (bicycling is an important sector of our economy), and the average car trip in the U.S. is shorter than three miles. So, if people have a safe place to ride, many of those trips could be done by bicycle instead of by car.

And finally, Rep. Oberstar asked that cycling users and advocates stand up to let Congress and the President know that we expect them so support cycling. No arguments from me!

After he finished, Rep. Oberstar got a nice ovation from the crowd. But we weren't done yet, because BikeTexas had an award for Bike Friendly Oak Cliff, and Rep. Oberstar congratulated them on receiving it. In French. It was brilliant.

And that brings me to the end of my coverage of the Texas Trails and Active Transportation Conference. (Kinda... I've asked someone to do a guest post about a Friday session, which I hope to have up next week.) I hope it was moderately enjoyable. Tomorrow, your regularly scheduled silliness shall return!

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