For the bicycling agenda to have any chance of competing on Capitol Hill, it will take cash donations to members of Congress and direct lobbying. That might be an inconvenient truth to idealistic advocates; but insiders say it’s simply how the game is played.
On Tuesday night, 10 members of Congress showed up to a wine bar just blocks from the Capitol Building where Bikes Belong hosted their annual BikesPAC fundraiser and lobbying shindig. The event was an opportunity to, “cultivate long-term relationships,” said Bikes Belong President and emcee for the night, Tim Blumenthal.
“Cycling was a punching bag a few years ago; it was a political freebie to beat up on cycling. Not any more. We’re coming of age.”
— Congressman Earl Blumenauer
Blumenthal said his group raised about $70,000 last year and he expects to bump that up to $90,000 this year. With that money, BikesPAC writes checks to the re-election campaigns of members of Congress who are supportive of bicycling. Finance rules limit such donations to $5,000 per candidate per election, so even though BikesPAC is tiny in financial terms, it gives them an opportunity to exert influence.