Guest post from Randy Neufeld, president of the America Bikes board
As president of the America Bikes board, I have witnessed first hand how this national coalition of bicycling organizations has benefitted from the efforts of Campaign Director Caron Whitaker.
For four years, Caron has led the America Bikes coalition through the federal transportation bill’s prolonged reauthorization. Throughout the arduous process, Caron dedicated her work to the coalition's goal of improving bicycling conditions in the U.S. with federal policy and investments.
Today, America Bikes is pleased to announce a new, exciting role for Caron within the coalition.
Starting on December 1, Caron will be the Vice President of Government Relations for the League of American Bicyclists. At the League, Caron will continue her work to further bicycling and walking policy in Congress. She will remain a lead contact for the America Bikes coalition.
“Caron’s top-notch campaign and strategy skills have enhanced the reputation of bike advocacy on Capitol Hill and helped assure a continuing, cost-effective federal investment in bike infrastructure," said Tim Blumenthal, President of the Bikes Belong Coalition and an America Bikes board member. "During her four-plus years at America Bikes, Caron has developed dozens of important relationships that will continue to boost the bicycling agenda as she works in her new position at the League of American Bicyclists.”
Jim Sayer, Executive Director of the Adventure Cycling Association and Treasurer of the America Bikes board, concurred. "Caron has done a phenomenal job of building our pro-bike coalition and connecting with Capitol Hill," said Jim. "Her low-key and persuasive style has really boosted bicycling's brand in Washington DC, which is why I'm thrilled that she will continue as a leading advocate for America's bike movement."
Without Caron's contributions to bicycle advocacy, this year's new two-year transportation bill, MAP-21, surely would have been a worse bill for biking and walking.
When the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee first released their transportation bill in November of 2011, active transportation advocates were concerned that the bill disproportionately reduced funding for biking and walking. Even more worrying, the draft bill made significant additional activities compete with those limited funds.
Thanks to the dedicated efforts of Senator Ben Cardin (D-MD) and Senator Thad Cochran (R-MS) — and thanks to Caron's work behind the scenes — the final Senate bill included a bipartisan amendment to give local government access to federal funds for biking and walking projects. The Cardin-Cochran amendment was included in the Senate's final transportation bill, and the full Congress retained the amendment's structure in the final law.
Without the Caron's visionary leadership on the campaign for the amendment, MAP-21 would have eliminated local access to biking and walking funds.
Going forward, all the member organizations that comprise America Bikes will work together on MAP-21 implementation, DOT policy guidance, and other federal, state and local issues and opportunities that arise. The groups will also collaborate, where possible, to develop, refine and advance a shared platform and to advance long-term goals for bicycling.
We are grateful for Caron's leadership as head of America Bikes and look forward to continuing to work with her.