Today is National Bike To Work Day, and this morning many DOT employees saddled up, strapped on their helmets, and hit the streets on two wheels.
Several of DOT's top officials joined the celebration, riding to work and talking about the many positive changes we've seen since last year's National Bike To Work Day.
At DC's Freedom Plaza, Under Secretary for Policy Roy Kienitz spoke about why we are so keen on putting bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure on an even footing with roads and transit--and laid out a number of practical points to bike skeptics:
"We have some cold, logical reasons for this policy. We believe all transportation investments should justify themselves based on how effective they are in meeting overall goals like safety, environmental sustainability, convenience, etc. And it turns out that travel by bike helps us achieve all of these things. Plus, bike infrastructure is flat-out less expensive."
Also at Freedom Plaza, Federal Transit Administrator Peter Rogoff spoke about the role that bikes and transit can play in fostering livable communities. "When I'm not riding public transportation," he added, "I'm on my bike!"
Many of my old colleagues in Congress agree, especially Rep. Earl Blumenauer of Oregon who has been a passionate biking advocate for as long as I can remember. Rep. Blumenauer and 23 members of Congress--from both sides of the aisle--sent me a very kind letter yesterday thanking me for and DOT for "recognizing biking and walking as important components of our transportation system that deserve dedicated funding." Rep. Blumenauer has a great op-ed in the Huffington Post today on this subject as well.
The Washington Post follows a bike commuter group to Freedom Plaza
Exciting things were also happening closer to DOT headquarters this morning. Next door, at Nationals Park, the Federal Highway Administration's Bicycle and Pedestrian Program Manager Gabe Rousseau spoke about the $1.2 billion federal investment in bicycle-pedestrian projects this fiscal year. He also reminded attendees that over 4 billion trips last year were taken by bicycle. Both of these are new records.
Nationals Executive VP Bob Wolfe, DC Councilman Tommy Wells, FHWA's Gabe Rousseau, and
Michael Stephens of the Capital Riverfront Business Improvement District greet arriving cyclists at Nationals Park
I want to thank the Washington Nationals for being such great supporters of the DC area's bicyclists. They continue to host the Bike To Work Day pit stop that many DOT bicyclists check in at this morning. They have plenty of bike racks available for stadium-goers--accommodating up to 286 riders. They even offer free valet bike parking! I think that's something. And this weekend, they're honoring Bike Month and the signature Bike DC event with discounted tickets for fans who bike to Sunday's game.
We are really excited about these changes. One of the changes I didn't see coming was that Bike To Work Day would become a gift-giving holiday! But it has.
For example, today DOT gave its employees a new bicycle commuting benefit. We signed it into effect right on our front steps surrounded by the DOTers who participated in today's Bike To Work Day festivities. This program allows bicyclists to receive reimbursement for qualified commuting costs similar to that provided to employees who take public transportation to and from work. And I'm particularly proud that DOT is the first Cabinet-level agency to make this benefit available.
We appreciate the environmental and health benefits bicycle commuters bring to DOT’s workforce, and we’re committed to continuing to look for ways to make DOT a more bicycle-friendly workplace.
And let's close by adding Bike Commuting 101, a nice guide put together by Bike Pittsburgh. It's a welcome confidence-building gift to those who are still uncertain about commuting by bike, and really a useful place to start for everyone considering a bike commute.Bike To Work Day is a special event. And this year's celebration was another home run. So, congratulations to the Washington Area Bicyclists Association for registering over 8,500 Bike To Work participants. Congratulations to the League of American Bicyclists for another wildly successful Bike Month. And a special congratulations to all of the DOTers who hit the streets today!