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A Member of Parliament Answers "Why I Attend the National Bike Summit"
The National Bike Summit is a great event for everyone in the U.S. to attend, but it's also a wonderful conference for bike enthusiasts from around the world. John Weston, a Member of Parliament representing an area in southwest British Columbia, attended the Summit in 2012.
Weston is a huge bicycle advocate, and not only attended the Summit, but also spoke at Velo-City and organized the first Bike Day on the Hill in Ottawa. He also started an event to better keep in touch with his district, called Ride the Riding. While riding across his district, he met, rode, and spoke with various constituents. And if he didn't already have enough feathers in his helmet, Weston lobbied the House of Commons to provide a bike shelter for MPs and staff who ride to the office.
Below is my interview with Weston, which shines some more light on this conservative MP's love of cycling!
What brought you to the Summit?
Eleanor McMahon, of Ontario's Share the Road, encouraged me to attend. I was also keen to meet one of my inspirations as a legislator - Congressman Earl Blumenauer, and his staff. Also, the Summit has a reputation that speaks for itself!
How many years have you been coming to the Summit?
Last year was my first.
Is there anything you learned/saw at the Summit that really stuck with you?
Ironically, I was most impressed by the session on how to lobby a legislator. I gained new respect for the staff around me. As the speakers pointed out, they are the "institutional memory" when my busy schedule fails to let me understand stakeholders' viewpoints. I also loved the ride around D.C. and have created the Bike Day on the Hill, an annual event on Parliament Hill to promote cycling.
What is your favorite part about the Summit?
The bike ride!
Have you been able to use any of the lessons or anything else from the Summit after you left DC?
Yes, many! The most overriding one is the importance of cycling as a national agenda item, even in a country such as Canada, where many of the relevant rules and regulations are enacted at the provincial and local government levels.
What advice would you give to someone considering coming to the Summit for the first time?
Look closely at the agenda and decide what is most relevant. Try to connect with a veteran Summit goer to better understand what's in store — reading the material in advance does not do the Summit justice!
Will you be attending in 2013?
Probably not, but I have encouraged my Bike Steering Committee members to attend on my behalf.