Earl Blumenauer Featured in Wall Street Journal

excerpts from WSJ Dec. 29, 2007:

For Congressman, Life in Bike Lane Comes Naturally.

Earl Blumenauer emerged from his Capitol Hill row house. The temperature hovered near 40 degrees and it was really raining. He hopped on Trek Portland (one of his seven bicycles) and pedaled to his office.

Some members of Congress come to Washington and get in the fast lane. Blumenauer got in the bike lane. Mr. Blumenauer’s “obsession with bicycling borders on the interesting” sniffed TV satirist Stephen Colbert.

“Bikeman” a House colleague from Oregon calls him. But, Mr. Blumenauer has been a pedal pusher since his days on the Portland City Council, when he pressed for more bike lanes and set an example by riding around in his suit and a big bow tie.

He arrived in Washington in 1996. Soon he was preaching the benefits of pedaling. He launched the Congressional Bike Caucus that promotes public investment in cycling. Money for bike projects has more than doubled during his time in office.

At a community fund-raiser last winter, Rep. Baird spoofed Mr. Blumenauer. In a dead-on parody of President Bush, Mr. Baird confused the word “bicycle” with “bisexual”. “Maybe they do things differently out there in Oregon”¦”

With Democrats in the majority, he snagged a seat on the Ways and Means Committee and has had some success pedaling a proposal to encourage bike commuting. The provision would encourage employers to provide fringe benefits to bicycle commuters””such as repairs and annual upkeep””at a cost to American taxpayers of $1 million a year.

During his rainy ride to the Capitol, Mr. Blumenauer was unfazed by the wind and the damp. Late that night”¦he led an hour-long debate on energy policy and global warming. One important solution: bikes, he says.

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Posted by at 09:00 | Posted in Measure 37 | 23 Comments |Email This Post Email This Post |Print This Post Print This Post
  • Jerry

    Earl is right. Bikes will help us all.

    I say let’s have a tax credit for anyone who buys and bike and then uses it to get to work or rides it around anywhere. We can outfit the bike with a GPS unit and credit the rider for all miles ridden. I propose a credit of 50 cents per mile with no annual limit. This is a credit straight off the top of all federal and state income taxes.

    This will greatly help the environment and our health care situation. Fewer cars on the streets and healthier people for only 50 cents a mile!!!??

    Why don’t we do this? I am dead serious. People sometimes need incentives to do good. Well, at 50 cents a mile people would finally get off their butts and out of their silly SUVs and start riding the natural way. I defy anyone to tell me this is not a good idea. It would work and it would work immediately, rather than the CAFE standards which are 12 years or more out. What a joke!

    If Earl truly cared about bikes and bike transportation he would do this, but sadly, he is just another lame politician with no guts to do anything other than the status quo. It is time for bold action.

    I say ride on, ride on all and get paid to do it!!
    There is nothing wrong with this idea whatsoever – excpet maybe the amount is too low.

    Let’s get this put forward.

    All you bikers know who you are – write to Earl and let him know you like my idea.
    We get tax credit for wrapping our hot water heaters. Why not for something actually beneficial???

    This is something whose time has come.
    Where is Earl on this issue?
    Does anyone know him? Please contact him and let him know of this idea. It must be done and done NOW!

    As a bonus, it would reduce smoking, as smokers would hardly be able to ride to work without giving up the habit. Plus, people would be out in nature more and would appreciate our open spaces, our land use planning,etc.

    The only downside I can possibly imagine is someone getting a bike, hooking up the GPS, and riding in fareless square all day to get free miles for tax credit with their bike firmly locked in place to the MAX bike rack on the car.

    The bike lanes are in. What are we waiting for????? More global warming??

    Fools all who don’t demand immediate action. I would like some help on this…please.

  • eagle eye

    Bike. Bow-tie. Earl, you have a marvelous future in a new Pee Wee Herman series! Just don’t get in the kind of jam that the first Pee Wee and that guy from Idaho did!

    • dean

      Jerry…I like your proposal, and will pass it along to my buddy Earl.

      The fareless square problem could be solved by using bike odometers rather than GPS. Cycling commuters could just track mileage the same way we do if we use our cars for business purposes.

      And I will suggest to Earl that the funding should come from a gas hog tax on SUVs that get less than 25MPG to keep this revenue neutral.

      Thanks for the idea!

  • lw

    Jerry, why is the “solution” always to pay someone to do something that is in their and all of our best interest to do-ride a bike? Why discriminate against those who can’t ride because of age, health, job type, life styles that don’t allow for biking? I believe that the number of people in these categories that can’t ride far surpasses those that can.

    Why do we keep adding more regulations, taxes, incentives that require complex measuring systems that makes life more complicated? If you want to ride, ride. Fellow bike rider.


      I agree, bike riders should pay a fee for using the city streets. It will make them feel much better about themselves because they are giving someting back to the community. Getting rid of Fareless Square would have the same positive effect on the people who live / work in that area. 🙂

  • Jerry

    I just want something done to stop global warming and this is it. I have maybe an even better idea. How about an income tax credit for anyone who purchases a bike? That way, if they could not ride a bike as you suggest, they could buy one for someone who could and save money at the same time?
    I am suggesting at least $300 for any bike made in the USA.

    Dean – I hope you will convey this new idea to Earl along with my previous idea.

    With help from lw, this credit for the purchase of the bike itself may be the best idea.

    Thanks you guys.

    Let’s not let this go now that gas is heading to $4 per gallon.

  • dave


    Just what we need, more idiotic policies from Earl Blumanuer.

    Thanks to him…and the other liberal politicians that run this area..we are subject to some of the worst traffic in nation, for a mid sized city.

    By the way, this is a free country…If i choose to drive, that is my right…It is much more efficient than riding a friggin’ bicycle…
    Most of us grew out of that at 8 years old.

    fyi…kudos to the Bush Administration for halting funding for more worthless overpriced trollies that almost no one rides.

    • dean

      Dave….comparing traffic congestion based on city size is misleading. Many comparable sized cities in the rust belt have experienced zero or even negative growth rates over the past decade: Cleveland, St Louis, Columbus, Pittsburg, Buffalo, etc…

      So they don’t have much traffic. Would you want to live in any of them so that you can drive more freely?

    • Jerry

      Light rail in Portland is a complete joke. That is why I love my idea of the bike purchase tax credit. I sure agree with you on that one.

      • CRAWDUDE

        Hopping on my soap box: Get rid of Farelees Square! No one should be allowed to ride for free merely because of the area of the city their house, condo or work is located. Hopping off my soap box!

  • Jerry

    bike, bike
    it’s our right
    take to the streets
    every night
    bike, bike
    it’s our right
    get a tax cut
    for every bike!

    PLEASE – everyone – write to Earl and let’s get this tax credit for every bike purchased off the ground.
    Why not????
    I have taken care of all concerns that were raised, so this thing is good to go.
    Doesn’t anyone know this guy so we can get to him with my idea????

  • Joanne Rigutto

    I like the GPS idea for the bikes. That way we could do trace back/trace foreward from accidents with bicycles. Some bike blows through a stop sign or light and causes an accident or hits a pedestrian? Hit and run? No longer with a GPS unit. Just make sure it can be interrogated at vavious points around the city to get a real-time fix on bicycle locations. That wouldn’t be difficult to do, especially if ODOT gets their way with congestion/corridor pricing for automobiles. The interrogator structure would already be set up. The GPS unit on the bike would need to querry the interrogator to get it’s own location at various points, it would be easy enough to require the GPS unit to ID itself to the interrogator. All you’d need is an ID number registered to the owner of the bike. The system could work similar to the red light cammeras that ID the owner of a car issued a ticket via the license plate number on the vehicle.

    I wouldn’t go with a plain odometer for the bike, at 50 cents a mile, I’d set one up on a set of rollers and just spin the wheel until I had plenty of miles racked up. What an easy way to ring the cash register, much easier than putting the bike on a bus.

  • Mary

    I agree, SUVs are evil; bikes are good. Earl is the best because he hates evil and does good.

    I would like to stop being evil and start to do more good. But, in order to stop doing evil and get rid of my SUV, I do need your help. You see, my SUV (300hp and 500 ft/lbs) is used to tow my horse trailer (horses being more enviro than even a bike), since the light rail only allows chrome ponies on their system, not real ponies.

    So, I figure I can replace my SUV with a herd of Earls riding their bikes. Given the above horse power needs, I figure I can get by with 100 Earls on 18speed “Trek” bikes. But I need a harness system to hook all those 100 Earls up to tow my horse trailer. Any creative, yuppie, granola engineers in the Pearl district wanna design the harness for me? Help me leave my evil SUv in the dust.


      It’s called a noose! 😉

  • Jerry

    Man, I thought I had heard it all. Now this guy wants to noose up Earl!!?
    Maybe not too bad an idea, but who could get them all pulling in one direction, I ask you?
    Best just do the tax credit for the purchase of the bike and leave it at that.


      Merely a suggestion for the harness design she requested, there may be better ones to use but that came to mind first.

      • lw

        Jerry, you didn’t understand my previous comment. Why have regulations, etc. in the form that Earl suggests? And how is a bike purchase tax credit as you suggest helping to pay for the services that bikers use? All taxpayers are then helping to pay for biker enhancements and bikers are getting a free ride plus dollars in their pockets.

        • Jerry

          I understand your question perfectly. However, in our silly society people do need incentives to do what is right. That is why there are tax credits for hybrids.
          All I am saying is that my idea is MUCH better than that one, as no fuel will be used by bikers, and if crazies who buy hybrids get money back from the feds why shouldn’t a bike rider who is doing FAR, FAR more to help with our energy independence.
          The real question is why you don’t understand that what I am saying is nothing short of radical, bold, creative, and VERY forward thinking whose time has come!
          Ride on bikers – ride on!
          Let’s get the credit we deserve.

  • Rob Kremer

    I love Jerry’s idea about a 50 cent a mile credit for bike use. Heck, I’ll just strap my bike to my bike rack and the bike goes where my car goes – that oughtta pay for my entire transportation expense!

    • Jerry

      Now Rob, that wouldn’t be fair…many bikers don’t have cars. You don’t want to take advantage….

  • Bad Boy Brown

    Too bad the Wall Street Journal didn’t portray spineless Earl as a DEMOCRAT Congressman in a almost totally DEMOCRATIC district too spineless to run against Vera Katz for Mayor or Gordon Smith for US Senator. I would heve loved to see the folks in Eastern Oregon tell him where to stick his idiotic looking box tie!


      Never trust a man who wears a bowtie!

  • Jerry

    Never trust a man who does nothing and then brags about it.
    What a loser.
    At least I have a plan with my bike purchase tax credit idea.
    Can we move on that please??

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