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

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.

Thanks to the Frank Child Collection at UC Davis for this clipping.
Click to enlarge

And here’s the text (emphasis mine):

Oregon Blazes Pioneer Bike Trails Program — Encouraged by the stunning success of its bikeways bill (HB-1700) signed by Oregon’s Governor Tom McCall, setting aside 1% of state gas tax revenues for bike trails and footpaths, the Oregon Highway Division is expediting programs to utilize the funds. The state will set aside an estimated $922,000, cities $150,000 and counties $250,000 annually. With federal matching funds, as much as $2.5 million a year will be available.

Principal sponsor of the bill was State Rep. Don Stathos, a bike-riding Republican, who has hired additional secretarial help to handle 500 inquiries from cyclists around the nation to find out how it was done. He is working on a handbook to be distributed by the Bicycle Institute, to help them get their own legislators to adopt a bike bill.

“I want to see the first city with the guts to take the parking off one side of the street, paint a line where the cars were. Then I’ll believe we’re in the ball game,” he said. Oregon’s first trail utilizing the funds will be six miles long following a defunct commuter rail line in south metropolitan Portland. A one-mile trail near Eugene gets underway this year.

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