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ODOT committee recommends new TriMet bridge be named after father of Bicycle Bill

Buffered Bike Lane with a bike symbol and arrow pointing forward

Father of the Bicycle Bill, Don Stathos, would
be fitting tribute for new TriMet bridge.
(Graphic: TriMet).

Don Stathos is the father of Oregon’s Bicycle Bill, which he introduced and pushed through the state legislature in 1971. The bill (which became ORS 366.514) mandated that state highway projects spend a minimum of one percent on “footpaths and bicycle trails.” Stathos’ forward-thinking commitment to bicycling and walking has led to millions of dollars of investment throughout the state.

Now, on the 40th anniversary of the bill, the Oregon Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Committee (OBPAC, which advises ODOT), is recommending that TriMet’s new Portland-Milwaukie Light Rail bridge over the Willamette River be named in his honor.

The new bridge is part of a $1.5 billion transit project and will carry transit, walking and biking traffic. It will be the first major U.S. bridge to have no accommodation for automobiles.

According to OBPAC meeting minutes, the idea was discussed at their February 2nd meeting in Portland and they plan to draft a letter with their recommendation.

This is an exciting idea and one that I hope takes hold. Back in October 2005, when Stathos passed away at the age of 81, I wrote:

“At the time [1971] this concept of committing public money to bike lanes was revolutionary… Stathos believed the role of government was to improve the quality of life for citizens-including preserving our option to walk or bike. Narrow roads without shoulders or sidewalks took away that choice.”

UPDATE: A TriMet rep says they plan to have a public process for naming the new bridge and they don’t expect to announce a name until 2014.

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