Surprising keynote speaker for 2013 National Bike Summit

If it’s time for Republicans and Democrats to get along to avoid the fiscal cliff, maybe bicyclists and motorists should be working together as well.

That might be the message behind the League of American Bicyclists Announcement that the keynote speaker for the 2013 National Bike Summit in Washington DC will be Yolanda Cade, national public relations and strategic communications director for the AAA.

Yes, that AAA. The American Automobile Association.

Every year, bike advocates from across the US meet in the nation’s capital for the National Bike Summit to talk strategy and descend on their congressmen on Capitol Hill to lobby for funding and support.

The National Bike Summit is March 4-6. Its slogan is “Bicycling Means Business.”

Regarding Cade’s appearance, the League’s announcement explains:

If we really mean business when it comes to changing the dynamic on our nation’s highways and byways, we need to reach motorists, too. With more than 51 million members, AAA is the leading voice for U.S. drivers and has been working hard to promote positive and educational messages about cycling and cyclists.

Changing role?

It was just two years ago that Rails to Trails Conservancy put the Mid-Atlantic chapter of AAA into the role of bad guy for lobbying to remove funding for trails, and other biking and pedestrian projects, from the federal Highway Trust Fund.

That has come to pass.

Meanwhile, some other AAA chapters have supported bicyclists as they realize that while all their members drive cars, many are bicyclists as well who believe in sharing the road. Some chapters, such as AAA Washington, extend its roadside assistance service to members who need a lift after a breakdown.