|During yesterday’s debate on the energy bill, the United States Senate adopted an amendment that would promote energy conservation through bicycling. The Conserve By Bike Amendment passed by a voice vote and was recommended by Senator Frank Murkowski (R-AK), Ranking Member of the Energy Committee, as an amendment that “suggests the obvious benefits of the bicycle."|
Introduced by Senator Richard Durbin (D-IL) and Senator Susan Collins (R-ME), the Conserve By Bike Amendment establishes within the Department of Transportation a Conserve By Bicycling pilot program. This program would oversee up to 10 pilot projects geographically dispersed across the country designed to conserve energy resources by providing education and marketing tools to convert car trips to bike trips. In addition, the projects would encourage partnerships between stakeholders from transportation, law enforcement, education, public health, environment, and energy fields. Project results and energy savings must be documented, and the Secretary of Transportation is instructed to report to Congress on the results of the pilot program within two years of implementation.
The Department of Transportation is also authorized to conduct a study on the feasibility and benefits on the conversion of car trips to bike trips. The amendment authorizes $5.5 million for the pilot projects and the study.
“We have been spending a modest amount of federal, state and local funds on bicycle facilities since 1991. This amendment will leverage those investments and help people take advantage of the energy conservation choices they have in getting around their communities," Durbin stated.
The full energy bill is slowly making progress through the Senate, but debate on drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge has yet to occur. Once the bill passes in the Senate, it will go to conference with the House to work out any differences prior to being sent to President Bush for signing. Regardless, the amendment is a tremendous win for bicycling.
According to Elissa Margolin, League Executive Director, “With the adoption of the Conserve By Bike Amendment, the Senate recognizes the important contribution bicycling makes to energy conservation in this country. Senators Durbin and Collins have shown tremendous leadership on this issue."www.bikeleague.org