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From the Portland city archives: A tall bike on Union Avenue in 1980

Tuesday, August 12th, 2014
IMG_2995
Kickstand included.
(Photo: City of Portland Archives)

Tall bikes look great in sepia, too.

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Sam Oakland, leader of the ‘Shift of the 1970s,’ dies at 80

Tuesday, April 1st, 2014
Pioneering Portland bike advocate Sam Oakland
received a Bud Clark Award for lifetime achievement
from the Bicycle Transportation Alliance in 2001.
(Photo courtesy BTA.)

An often-forgotten forefather of Portland’s street-level bike advocacy movement died last week.

Sam Oakland, an English professor, poet and author who rode his bicycle to work at what was then Portland State College, started rallying bicycle riders to attend City Hall hearings in the late 1960s and led citizen actions in support of Oregon’s groundbreaking 1971 Bike Bill.

“There just wasn’t a lot of advocacy going on at that time,” said Karen Frost, who followed in Oakland’s steps 25 years later as the first executive director of the Bicycle Transportation Alliance. “He was really kind of a prime mover.”

He called his volunteer network the “Bicycle Lobby,” and referred to himself only as its “clerk.”

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From The Oregonian, Jan. 1, 1895: ‘Reign of the wheel’

Thursday, January 2nd, 2014
An 1899 newspaper ad for a Portland bike shop, from a
presentation by local bike historian Eric Lundgren.

The first issue of The Morning Oregonian in 1895 included an article that holds up wonderfully well.

It was published one year before the first organized bicycle recreation association formed in Portland; two years before 800 local donors crowd-funded the city’s first dedicated bike path on North Williams and Vancouver Avenues; four years before Oregon governor-elect T.T. Geer bought a bicycle of his own and led the charge for road improvements through the state.

And 119 years later, this short case for the merits of biking still feels like the perfect way to kick off a year of progress.

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What caused Portland’s biking boom?

Tuesday, July 2nd, 2013
Chart by Rutgers University professor and noted bicycle researcher John Pucher. This was one slide from a presentation he gave last week in Seattle.

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1967 National Road Championships were ‘Portland’s Finest Hour’

Friday, May 24th, 2013
Cover of October 1967 American Cycling magazine
shows the nation’s top racers at Alpenrose Velodrome.
(Photos by Peter Hoffman)

While many people think of only bike commuters and naked rides when the topic of cycling in Portland comes up, our city also has a proud tradition when it comes to racing. We shared a glimpse of that legacy back in 2011 through James Mason’s amazing photographs of the local racing scene in the 1960s, 70s, and 80s. Now we’ve come across another interesting artifact of our racing past: The 1967 issue of American Cycling magazine that featured Portland on its cover.

Portland earned this cover spot for hosting the 1967 U.S. National Road Racing Championships. The competition took place over two days at the newly opened Alpenrose Velodrome and the infamous 1.7 mile circuit in Mt. Tabor Park.

The man who wrote and photographed that story for American Cycling is Peter Hoffman. Hoffman is 76-years old now and he lives in Beaverton (just over the hill from Portland). After seeing our story on James Mason’s racing images, Hoffman scanned his old issue of American Cycling and posted it online. Hoffman was publisher and editor of American Cycling for six years. It became Bicycling magazine in 1968 and Hoffman was its editor for that first year. (Read more about the history of American Cycling here.)
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Bicycle license tax, separated bikeways in Oregon’s 1901 ‘Bicycle Path Bill’

Tuesday, August 28th, 2012

“… it being the object and intent of this act to provide for pedestrians and bicycles a highway separate from that used by teams and horsemen.”— Excerpt from House Bill 63

The more I read about Oregon’s tenth governor, T.T. Geer, the more intriguing this man becomes.

As we shared back in 2009, Governor Geer was the man who put bicycling on the map in Oregon at the turn of the 20th century. He served as governor from 1899 through 1903 — right in the midst of what many consider the golden age of bicycling in America. Today I came across an email from reader Larry H. that included a PDF of a piece of legislation Geer pushed through in 1901 known as House Bill 63; also known as, “Oregon’s Bicycle Path Bill.”

I knew Geer was bike-oriented, but never realized just how broad his bike policies were until I read the text of HB 63 this morning. I found it fascinating. Many of the provisions included in the bill — a tax on bicycle riders, ongoing revenue for infrastructure, and so on — are things we are still debating 111 years later.
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State of Oregon plans ‘Governor’s Ride’ to mark historic event

Wednesday, January 25th, 2012
Governor Geer, bike lover.
(Photo: Oregon State Library)

Remember Oregon’s tenth governor, Theodore T. Geer? He’s the great Oregonian who, in May of 1900, rode his bike from the capital in Salem to Champoeg to establish a monument to an historic vote that took place there in 1843. That vote paved the way to Oregon statehood and the monument stands today as the focal point for the Champoeg State Heritage Area.

To honor that ride and Governor Geer’s role in the founding of Oregon, the State of Oregon Parks and Recreation Department is organizing a bike ride that will retrace his route. The inaugural “Governor’s Ride 2012,” will be part of Champoeg’s annual “Founder’s Day” festivities (which have taken place at the monument since 1901).

Champoeg State Heritage Area Park Ranger Bob Woodruff got in touch with us to share more… (more…)

A look back into Oregon bike history

Tuesday, August 16th, 2011
Employees of the Oregon State Highway Division appear in a 1972 article about bicycling’s rise in popularity. See below for images from Oregon newspapers from as far back as 1899.

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On eve of Summit, a look back at Oregon’s bike bill

Monday, March 28th, 2011

As many of you head to Salem for the Oregon Active Transportation Summit (it begins tomorrow!), I thought it’d be fun to take a step back in our history.

40 years ago, on June 19th 1971, dozens of Portlanders got on their bikes and rode to Salem for the signing of HB 1700, the Bicycle Bill. Passed by Southern Oregon lawmaker Don Stathos (who passed away in 2005), the bill was the first in the nation to mandate that highway funds get spent on bikeways.

Local citizen activist Ted Buehler recently came across an old news clipping from the time of the bill’s passage. The article below appeared in the December 1971 issue of Boom in Bikeways, the “Newsletter of the Bikeways explosion” published by the Bicycle Institute of America. (more…)

Photographer captured vibrant era of Portland bike racing

Thursday, February 3rd, 2011
Photographer James Mason as a
young boy in Beaverton in 1953.
- See his photos below –
(All images © James Mason)

A few months ago, a man named James Mason popped up on the always interesting OBRA email list. He shared a link to photographs of bicycle racing in Portland he took back in the 1970s and ’80s. Mason’s images instantly struck a nerve with me; not only for his technical prowess, but because he captured legendary competitors in action at venues still used for racing today and the beautiful scenes and faces that defined the era. His photos are a testament to Portland’s rich bicycling legacy.

I asked Mason for permission to share his images here on BikePortland. Mason, 62, not only gave me permission to use the images, he also answered my questions about his own past and what it was like to grow up in Beaverton and come of age around Portland’s bike racing scene from the 1960s through the 80s.
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