35 years of bicycle activism

I recently stumbled upon Steven Reed Johnson’s excellent history of Portland’s bicycle “movement”.

In that paper, he details the formation of the Portland’s first official group of bicycle activists:

“In November 1971, the City of Portland created the first citizen committee to examine bicycle programs in the city, the Bicycle Path Task Force (led by Sam Oakland).”

Many things have changed since 1971, but citizen involvement is still an essential part of Portland’s bike scene.

Last week I attended the monthly Portland Bicycle Advisory Committee meeting held in a conference room at City Hall. The meeting, which is always open to the public, was packed. Besides the official committee members, there were several cyclists (including messengers and mountain bikers) who just showed up to check it out.

Below is a photo of PDOT’s bicycle coordinator Roger Geller listening to input about the Central City Transportation Management Plan update:

[A first-time attendee at a Bicycle Advisory Committee meeting, shares his ideas with PDOT bike coordinator Roger Geller]

Thank you Sam Oakland for getting the ball rolling and standing up for cyclists 35 years ago.

[The Portland Bicycle Advisory Committee meets on the second Tuesday of every month in the Lovejoy Room in City Hall from 7-9PM.]

Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor)

Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor)

Founder of BikePortland (in 2005). Father of three. North Portlander. Basketball lover. Car owner and driver. If you have questions or feedback about this site or my work, feel free to contact me at @jonathan_maus on Twitter, via email at maus.jonathan@gmail.com, or phone/text at 503-706-8804. Also, if you read and appreciate this site, please become a supporter.

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Chris Smith
Chris Smith
16 years ago

Sam Oakland is still around, you ought to interview him. Last I heard he was teaching at the one of the visitor centers up on Mt. St. Helens.

prof. sam oakland
prof. sam oakland
10 years ago
Reply to  Chris Smith

Thank Chris for the notation — it’s nice to be remembered. Mostly these days I’m up on Mt. Hood with the US Forest Service, but in January I’ll be teaching in Moldova on my 4th Fulbright grant. 1971 was a great year; Bicycle Lobby members worked on four Oregon bills that became law: Beach, Billboard, Bottle, and of course HB 1700, The Bicycle Bill. The Lobby also pushed, and influenced several other states to create bicycle and bottle laws.