Ask Belle: The Blumenauer Bike Pin

Dear Belle,

Can we please talk about the ugly neon bike pins that all the interns wear?  They might as well be wearing a sign that says, “Newbie.” 

Nothing goes with a plastic bike pin.


The Intern Coordinator

While it’s true that neon plastic isn’t my cup of tea, the bike pin is a Capitol Hill institution.  Like the late Sen. Robert Byrd, the elevator stewards, the Lincoln catalfaque, and the Members smoking lounge, the U.S. Capitol just wouldn’t be the same place without the neon bike pins.

For those of you who live outside of the Beltway, allow me to explain the legend of the bike pin so that we all might appreciate this piece of Americana. 

Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-Ore.) is the chairman of the Congressional Bike Caucus and a self-described bicycle evangelist.  He rides his bike to and from the Capitol every day, and champions the cause of two-wheeled transportation enthusiasts everywhere.  And in keeping with his chosen crusade, he always wears a hot neon bike pin in one of the standard highlighter colors making the pins synonymous with the name Blumenauer.

To spread his message far and wide, Blumenauer generously bestows his trademark pins on visitors and staff alike. And getting pinned by Blumenauer is a Capitol Hill right of passage.

Most of the Members, Staffers, Interns and Pages that I know have been pinned by the Gentlemen from Oregon (my pin is hot pink, see above).  And if you work in the House and haven’t been bike pinned, then you need to get out of your cubicle a bit more. 

Thus, I don’t believe that the bike pins are faux pas.  Yes, they’re a bit gauche for my taste.  But they’re a part of the Capitol Hill story and that makes them awesome. 

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11 Comment

  1. Reply
    Suburban Sweetheart
    November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

    I'd never heard of this! Thanks for the combination history/fashion lesson.

  2. Reply
    Suburban Sweetheart
    November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

    I'd never heard of this! Thanks for the combination history/fashion lesson.

  3. Reply
    August 17, 2010 at 6:15 pm

    I spent a semester interning in the House and never get bike-pinned. And I led more tours that semester than I can count. I kind of feel like I got ripped off.

  4. Reply
    August 17, 2010 at 8:28 pm

    Ditto Rachel – Although I never left my cube when I was a staffer, I'm sad I wasn't bike-pinned as an intern. I really feel like I missed out on an important piece of Hill-dom.

  5. Reply
    August 17, 2010 at 8:45 pm

    Belle, belle! This is wonderful. Living in Eugene, OR I worked for years campaigning statewide and have numerous bike pins. It made me smile to see your post. Go, Oregon, Go!

  6. Reply
    August 17, 2010 at 11:31 pm

    Thank you for defending the bike pin! While not necessarily fashionable, it symbolizes an important idea and cause. And sometimes things like that come before fashion….!

  7. Reply
    August 18, 2010 at 3:22 am

    Yay!!! While I enjoy your posts, this one makes me especially happy.

  8. Reply
    Suburban Sweetheart
    August 18, 2010 at 12:57 am

    I'd never heard of this! Thanks for the combination history/fashion lesson.

  9. Reply
    August 18, 2010 at 1:41 pm

    I have this nagging feeling that the person who wrote in the original question is really the newbie for whom they feign disdain. Intern Coordinator makes a giant faux pas calling a 7-term MoC (another with others) a “newbie”, but this is probably due to their to naivety and insecurity about their new status combined with an unwillingness to ask for information rather than snark. In both fashion and life a little knowledge can save you from looking like a big fool.

  10. Reply
    August 18, 2010 at 9:33 pm

    I have to agree, the person who wrote in about their distaste for the bike pin is obviously the “newbie”. They are probably jealous because they have never been given a bike pin. And I have to say– most those people you see with bike pins are NOT interns sweaty– they are probably people higher up on the food chain then yourself!

    I love the bike pins. Nancy Pelosi was in Oregon last week and of coerce she was sporting her support for Oregonians and the greatness of the bike by wearing a bike pin.

    Next somebody is going to complain that the breast cancer ribbon is out of style.

  11. Reply
    Native Portlander
    August 25, 2010 at 10:45 pm

    Oregon's 3rd represent!!!!!

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