115 years ago today, America’s beloved nomad, author and commentator Mark Twain visited our little logging town and had some pretty big ideas about biking. Crosscut’s Knute Berger was researching Twain’s trip to the Northwest when he came across an article in The Oregonian from August 11th, 1895. In that article, Berger reports that “Twain expounded on his idea of how to turn Portland into a European-style bike town” and Twain suggested it happen through “public investment in bike transport.”
Here’s an excerpt from the 1895 article in The Oregonian (emphasis mine):
“Portland seems to be a pretty nice town,” drawled the author of Tom Sawyer, as the ‘bus rolled down Sixth Street, “and this is a pretty nice, smooth street. Now Portland ought to lay itself out a little and macadamize [an early method of paving] all its streets just like this. Then it ought to own all the bicycles and rent ’em out and so pay for the streets. Pretty good scheme, eh? I suppose people would complain about the monopoly, but then we have the monopolies always with us…”
— For more posts on our biking past, see our “history” story tag.