While oil continues to gush in the Gulf of Mexico and the future of federal climate and energy legislation looks dim, there remains one relatively easy solution for those interested in saving the planet: riding your bike. And it’s nice to know we’re not the only ones who think so.
Here are a few of our favorite elected officials who are walking — nay, cycling! — the talk by taking their bikes right to the streets. Did we miss any notable politicians who commute by bike? We’d especially like tips on any who are female, racially diverse, and/or not a Democrat. Tell us in the comments!
Mayor Mike McGinn, Seattle, Wash.
Seattle’s upstart new mayor managed to oust the city’s previous green rockstar politician, Greg Nickels. with his daily bicycle-commuting, livable streets-promoting, populist charms. He recently unveiled a decidedly un-car-centric transportation initiative called “Walk. Bike. Ride.” It offers detailed improvements (within the current budget) for those getting around Seattle by bike. Take a ride with McGinn as he cycles to city hall.
Mayor Gregor Robertson, Vancouver, Canada
Like McGinn, Robertson regularly bikes to work, as well as to press conferences, and he just opened another successful dedicated bike lane in Vancouver. Back in 2008, when he was still stumping for the mayorship, Robertson gave this rousing speech to a group of two-wheelers during Critical Mass, in which he called himself “a hard-core cyclist.”
Congressman Earl Blumenauer (D-Ore.)
Representing cyclist-friendly Portland, Ore., Rep. Blumenauer is chair of the Congressional Bike Caucus, an enthusiastic promoter of bike-curiousity, and a bike commuter of 14 years, which includes his tenure on Capitol Hill. “I have never had to look for a parking space in Washington, D.C. I’ve never been stuck in traffic, ever,” he told NPR in 2008. “These are the approaches that are going to help us reduce the carbon footprint, enrich people’s lives, strengthen the economy, and I think we’ll just be better off.”
And a couple of honorable mentions go to the following bike-friendly officials who may or may not bike themselves, but who are out to break the cycle of auto-dependency in their own cities.
Mayor John Hickenlooper, Denver, Colo.
He helped usher in the first city-wide bike-sharing program in the United States.
“Bike sharing is a viable transportation option to help improve the overall health of Americans and reduce our carbon footprint,” said Hickenlooper at the launch of Denver’s program. “Let’s start a two-wheel revolution. Let’s make every day Bike-to-Somewhere Day.”
Mayor Ralph Becker, Salt Lake City, Utah
This Utah mayor is way more excited about bike lanes than Salt Lake City’s plans for a shiny new light rail project, and he’s proving it by adding 38 miles of new bike lanes in 2009 and more to come.
“The valley itself is relatively flat. We’ve got wide streets. We have a relatively good climate … and an enormous opportunity to achieve being one of the most bikeable cities in the country,” he declared in April.