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U.S. Congressman Earl Blumenauer, founder of the Congressional Bike Caucus, cites success of Biketown

FILE PHOTO - A Biketown rack at Pioneer Courthouse Square across from the MAX stop on Southwest Morrison Street is shown here. U.S. Congressman Earl Blumenauer, D-Oregon, is pedalling uphill to make local bike share programs eligible for federal transportation funding.

The representative for most of Multnomah County points to Portland's three-year-old Biketown program as proof that communities across the nation should be able to receive federal grants to build bikeshare facilities and buy related equipment.

"This is an essential transit option for my community, and communities around the country, where people often lack access to meaningful transportation options outside of the single occupancy automobile," Rep. Blumenauer said.

The Bikeshare Transit Act of 2019 — introduced by Blumenauer on Capitol Hill on Friday, July 26 — doesn't have a specific dollar amount attached, but inserts new definitions into the United States Code so future spending bills can legally fund bike shares.

Co-sponsoring the bill is Rep. Ayanna Pressley, a Democrat from Massachusetts who co-chairs the Congressional Bike Caucus, which Blumenauer founded in 1996 and now has about 130 members in Congress.

"Cycling exists at the intersection of climate justice, transit justice and health justice," said Rep. Pressley.

With more than 1,000 orange cycles docked at 100 stations scattered across the city, Biketown allows users to rent bikes and pay by the minute, or through a membership. Unlike electric scooters, which are often parked willy-nilly, users must pay an extra fee if the bikes aren't returned to a designated location.

Blumenauer's office says there are programs similar to Biketown in about 100 other cities, and that nearly 80,000 people use the Portland program each year.

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