09 May 2014

Up The Hill, From Portland

He was a proto-Portlander.  Or, if you will, a Portlander before there was Portland.

What I mean is that he was born and raised in Portland, and has lived there all of his life.  So he was there before it became a "hip" place to live.

But he has as much in common with the current city as he does with the one in which he grew up.  That is most evident in his mode of transportation.  You guessed it:  He rides his bicycle to work.

If you're from Portland or follow politics, you know that I'm talking about Congressman Earl Blumenauer. He has represented his city--Oregon's 3rd District, to be exact--in Washington since 1996. Before that, he served in his state's legislature and city government.  

He is probably the most ardent advocate for bicycling, and one of the staunchest proponents of modern mass transportation, to have graced the halls of Congress.  But even if you didn't know that about him, you'd know who he was if you've watched Congressional proceedings on CNN.

You see, he is nearly always seen with a neon-colored bicycle pin in his lapel.  That, and the fact that he usually wears bow ties makes him stand out in a chamber that's not noted for its sartorial diversity.

Of course, being "The Bike Guy" won't, by itself, get someone re-elected to Congress eight times, even in Portland. So, perhaps not surprisingly, he has done some notable work in pressuring the US to take more action in the Darfur Conflict.  He also called attention for the need to improve protection against flooding even before Hurricane Katrina devastated New Orleans.

It must be said that his record isn't perfect:  He supports the World Trade Organization and has supported trade agreements whose aims, it seems, contradict those of his work on transportation, environmental and human right issues.

Still, you've gotta love him for riding his bike up Capital Hill every day and for his fashion sense!



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