Greetings all. What's this we are hearing about more SNOW back home?? Can you make sure it is gone before tomorrow night? (Speaking of snow, we have found it very interesting that Washington got hit by "Snowmaggedon" a little while back, completely crippling the city, and there is literally no sign that this ever happened as you look around. Weird.)
At any rate, we had our meetings up on the Hill this morning. Just like last year, we ended up speaking to staffers rather than our actual elected officials. The staffers we spoke to were those who work on transportation issues, so it was still a worthwhile exercise.
I think it is fair to say that we had good meetings with our senator's staffs, but we may have more work to do with Lee Terry's folks. I was very encouraged that both Johanns and Nelson's guys were familiar with the Safe Routes to School program, and recognized the value of that funding and those effort.
We spent a fair amount of time talking about the importance of the Complete Streets bill, and how transportation issues have a direct link to health, healthcare, safety and the environment.
Addtionally, we pointed out that these issues are not just about people who want to buy expensive bikes and ride for fun ... there are many Nebraskans (including school kids) that have no choice but to walk or bike for their transportation, and complete streets is also an access and equity issue.
The biggest positive from today's meetings came from Senator Nelson's staffer, who told us that they are very aware of the issues causing the huge delays in the projects that have been previousy funded (i.e.: the trail connector between the Keystone and Field Club trails, several Safe Routes to School projects, etc.) and they are working with the Nebraska Department of Roads and the Federal Highway Administration to get them resolved. There will be a hearing on March 30 in Lincoln with key officials of all of these agencies attending, in hopes of finding some resolution. This hearing will be open to the public, and we want to encourage people to attend with us.
Our meetings may be done in Washington, but our work is only beginning. These folks need to hear from us more than once a year at the Bike Summit, and they need to hear from and see faces other than ours. We're going to be formulating a follow up plan for when we get home, and it will include assignments for everyone who cares about these issues.
One more thought before I sign off for now: Matt Martin has been an unbelievably valuable member of our delegation. Matt is a veteran of the D.C. political scene (former Bob Kerry staffer, among other various jobs), and his insight and guidance have been very helpful. We will continue to lean on him for advice as we move forward. Thanks, Matt!!