Editor’s note: Pima Association of Governments bicycle and pedestrian planner Ann Chanecka is spending the week in Washington D.C. for the League of American Bicyclists’ National Bike Summit.

Chanecka will write a post each day keeping us informed about what she is seeing and doing. Chanecka’s week will culminate with a congressional bike ride honoring Gabrielle Giffords. Check out her thoughts from the first day of the bike summit.

Author’s note: I wrote the title of this piece before I saw Mike’s post on it!  I didn’t plan it I swear. Also, I came down with an awful cold so if I don’t post tomorrow it is because I’m tending to my sickness!

Why You Should See Mia On Friday
(Notes from the Bike Summit Day 2)

I know, I know… you’re sick of hearing about Portland.  Even the famous Portland House Representative, D – Earl Blumenauer started the day recognizing the nauseating over-used analogy, “But if Portland can do it, why can’t ______?”  I get it. I’m sick of it. But sorry, living and breathing “livability” concepts, I can’t help but wonder, “If Portland can attract new riders and get their bicycle commuting rate to 6 percent, why can’t Tucson?”

Yesterday I ran into my Portland friends I met at the last Bike/Ped Conference I attended. They informed me they have over 33 representatives at the Summit (this does not count the surrounding communities), from all sorts of bicycle fields – bike shops, government planners and local advocacy groups. They have organized themselves and have a strategy to help advocate for additional improvements they’d like to see. For those of you who are concerned we’ll stop progressing if we obtain a platinum-status bicycle friendly community, if Portland hasn’t, why should Tucson!

And then Blumenauer in his opening remarks announces that as of this week, Portland has 63 businesses who have or will have a bike corral, that means parking dedicated on the street, right outside the door of local businesses for 1,040 bicycles. He says another 50 businesses are on the waiting list. Clearly a lot of Portland businesses have already discovered that providing good bike facilities actually helps their businesses.

Portland has a critical advantage over us to recruit business allies — a few years ago they did a major economic impact study that quantifies how much the cycling activity adds to the local economy. In the study they looked at ALL aspects of cycling — including both tourism and retail stores. This afternoon, I attended a session focused on “cycling tourism” — in which they mostly focused on the positive economic impacts of training towns and large events. Can any of you think of a region in southern Arizona that hosts a ton of winter trainees AND hosts big events like the El Tour de Tucson. Oh shoot, I gave it away. Then factor in all of us who aren’t really recreational cyclists but have an obsession with having cool bikes and more stuff for the bike! I have no doubt the cycling activity in Tucson generates an amazing amount of economic activity in the region and I look forward to working with local community members to get an economic impact study done in Tucson.

So… back to the title of this piece, on Friday you have an amazing opportunity to see first hand, the woman who was critical in Portland’s transformation — Mia Birk. I strongly believe Tucson is an amazing cycling community and I am so proud to live/work in the community. However, we have not raised our commuting rate in a decade whereas Portland’s has skyrocketed.  On Friday go see Mia Birk who told me this week she is very excited about her trip. Listen to how she mobilized Portland and someone please take notes for me!

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