- The Washington Times - Sunday, June 15, 2003

Bicyclists propelled by ire over the District’s lack of representation in Congress yesterday pedaled up and down the city streets to draw attention their quest for statehood.

The event was staged on Flag Day to emphasize the 50 stars on the national banner — which participants argue should number 51.

About 100 cyclists with backpacks and tire pumps met in front of the Wilson Building to begin the “Quest for the 51st Star,” a 61-mile bike rally organized by the Washington Area Bicyclist Association (WABA) and D.C. Vote.

Maggie Thompson, who lives in Mount Pleasant in Northwest, didn’t mind giving up a day off from work to support a cause she believes in.

“It’s very important to do what we can to get voting rights, and if it entails riding bikes, that’s great,” said Ms. Thompson, 23.

WABA Executive Director Ellen Jones said every city resident should care about D.C. statehood, adding that the bike rally was held on Flag Day for two reasons.

“We decided to have a good time but also make a point that it’s not right that we do not have a vote in Congress,” Ms. Jones said. “We can bring democracy and voting rights to locations around the globe, but around the [U.S.] Capitol, we don’t have a vote. So we’re taking our message to the streets today.”

District residents are represented in Congress by D.C. Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton, who can vote in committee but not in the full House. D.C. Vote advocates statehood for the District, which would mean full congressional representation.

Bicyclists yesterday “toured the country” by stopping at each state-named avenue in the city.

“I think it’s a great idea to show how we can’t have representation, but 50 states have avenues named after them. By riding on those 50 avenues, we are pointing out that we need to be treated equally in Congress,” said Bill Rice, spokesman for the D.C. Department of Transportation who has been cycling for 15 years.

The ADC Street Map of Washington D.C. lists only 49 avenues named after states. North Dakota does not have an avenue named after it, though there is a Dakota Ave.

By early afternoon, many of the cyclists had stopped for lunch at Eastern Market in Southeast.

Cyclist Brian Sisolak, 23, said he was glad the skies were clear and sunny.

“It’s a lot of stop-and-go, and it’s a lot of pumping, but it’s fun,” he said of the “Quest” rally. “Some of the cyclists are bailing, but I’ll make it to the end.”

Mayor Anthony A. Williams, along with other city leaders, participated in the event. But Ms. Jones said the mayor had ridden only 10 miles and “visited” only 12 states.

“It’s just good to see our elected representatives, [at least] the ones we can elect, show up,” said Mr. Sisolak, a native Washingtontian who lives on Capitol Hill.

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