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Op-Ed: This ‘Bike to Work’ Day, Let’s Pass Bold Policies To Support Cyclists

"It is hard to think of another mode of transportation that is a more powerful tool to meet [our challenges.]"

From Paris to Williams Avenue in Northeast Portland, the bike renaissance is making a difference in the lives of thousands every day. Bikes spur economic development, fight congestion, enhance tourism, and offer a low-cost alternative to cars. In a time of deep concern about climate change, it is hard to think of another mode of transportation that is a more powerful tool to meet this challenge.  

Bikes have been a constant throughout my 50+ years in public service. One of my proudest accomplishments was successfully working to build protected bike lanes on Pennsylvania Avenue between the U.S. Capitol and the White House. Nothing sends a stronger signal about the power of the bicycle than integrating it into America’s most iconic street.  

Recently, our efforts have focused on making cyclists safe amid a dangerous increase in roadway fatalities. I introduced the Sarah Debbink Langenkamp Active Transportation Safety Act, named after a U.S. diplomat who was killed biking home just weeks after returning from an active war zone. The legislation named in her honor will unlock unprecedented sums of federal funding for state and local governments to fill gaps in pedestrian and cycling infrastructure.  A similar bill modeled after my legislation recently passed in the Maryland State Legislature. 

I’m also fighting for communities across the country to fully take advantage of the $5 billion grant program created last Congress to fund local Vision Zero projects. The premise of Vision Zero is simple: end all roadway fatalities. Since the grant program’s inception, more than 1,000 communities have received planning or implementation grants to make their streets safer. 

We must also level the economic playing field for cyclists. My E-BIKE Act would enable more Americans to take advantage of electric bikes by making them more affordable. The Bicycle Commuter Act reinstates a tax benefit for bike commuters, just like those who take transit or park at work receive. 

There is no area of our work that gives me greater satisfaction or that holds more promise for the future than the bicycle. This Bike to Work Day, I hope you are able to burn calories instead of carbon and enjoy the power and joy of the bicycle. I know I will. 

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