COL Bike caucus pedals hard

The Congressional Bike Caucus, a once-obscure player in the rough-and-tumble of Congressional politics, is suddenly commanding attention in Washington.

The group, made up of members of the House who are enthusiastic cyclists, has grown to 111 members, including 24 who signed up last month, according to a report in the Star Tribune of Minneapolis. Senators also are planning to establish a bike caucus.

A leading figure in the House group is Rep. Jim Oberstar, D-Minn., who pedaled 2,630 miles last year for fun and fitness. He is co-sponsor of a bill that would offer a benefit to employees who bike to work.

This would be an extension of the current program allowing employers to offer $65 a month to employees who commute via mass transit or van pooling. The employer would be able to deduct the payments from its tax bill.

The obvious goals are to reduce traffic congestion and gasoline consumption and to relieve overtaxed parking facilities -- as well as to improve employees' health and fitness.


Previous projects pushed by the caucus have included constructing 20,000 miles of bike trails, sponsoring bike safety programs and paying for mounting of bike racks on buses.

During the last 10 years, the caucus has helped to increase spending on bike-related activities to $2 billion.

And, as one caucus member pointed out, motorists also benefit from increasing bike travel because there are fewer cars on the road.

Finally, the program fits well with the national concern over fitness.

Biking to work every day is a good way to keep one's weight down.

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