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.