Urban Tribe - Ride with your kids in front.

When TriMet asked for bridge names, bike-inspired ideas rolled in

Posted by on January 21st, 2014 at 8:34 am

Street performer on Hawthorne-2.jpg

Kirk Reeves on the Hawthorne Bridge.
(Photos by J.Maus/BikePortland)

As we mentioned in this week’s Monday Roundup, the late trumpet performer Kirk Reeves was passed over by TriMet’s official bridge-naming committee, but not before getting 840 bits of love from people who suggested that the agency name their bridge for him.

Reeves connected with many people who crossed the nearby Hawthorne Bridge on bikes, and he’s one of several public suggestions for the bridge’s name that had links to local biking.

Here’s a look at a few of them, culled from TriMet’s news release of 9,000 public suggestions for the name of the bridge that will carry bikes, buses, MAX trains, streetcars, ambulances and people on foot:

The most popular bike-specific suggestion was “The Rose Pedal.” Local pun-lovers put up 47 variations on that name.

My personal favorite is a concept that’ll be familiar to anybody who keeps track of our style rules here at BikePortland: “The People’s Bridge.” In all, TriMet got 193 suggestions of one variation or another on “Bridge of the People” or “People’s Bridge,” a concept that’s captured with a more historical flavor in “Tillicum Bridge of the People,” one of the four official options.

86 suggestions mentioned Oregon’s sainted anti-sprawl Gov. Tom McCall, who signed the 1971 bill that required most road construction projects to include dedicated biking facilities — a law that, 20 years later, gave the Bicycle Transportation Alliance a legal opening to force bike lanes onto major streets.

Another three suggestions invoked the late Oregon state Rep. Don Stathos (R-Jacksonville), who sponsored the Bicycle Bill and eventually brought McCall on board. As we reported back in 2011, this was the official nomination of the Oregon Bicycle-Pedestrian Advisory Committee, on which Stathos served for 30 years.

The most popular bike-specific suggestion was “The Rose Pedal.” Local pun-lovers put up 47 variations on that name.

Close behind was former Mayor Bud Clark, the bike-commuting tavern owner, ex-Marine and Reed dropout who unexpectedly took over City Hall after thumping the city’s last truly car-oriented mayor, Frank Ivancie, on Election Day 1984. Clark’s name was suggested 43 times (not counting several that might have been references to explorer William Clark, or someone else).

Earl Blumenauer, the man who oversaw Portland’s trend-setting embrace of urban bike infrastructure when he served on city council, became the leading bike advocate in Washington D.C. and personally signed the letter notifying TriMet that it had secured 50 percent federal funding for the bridge, got 25 votes.

Tour of Tomorrow

Former mayor Vera Katz (on left, in bronze)
has the Esplanade; some folks think former biking
mayor Bud Clark should get the bridge.

38 different suggestions mentioned bikes or biking one way or another. A few:

  • The Portland Bicycle Bridge
  • Biker’s Bridge
  • Bikelandia
  • Bike City Bridge
  • Bikerall Bridge
  • CycleLite
  • Bud Clark Bicycle Bridge
  • Kirk Reeves Bike Bridge
  • B.P. Express (Bike Pedestrian Express)
  • BABS (Bike and Bus Span)
  • Mil-Port Lite Rail & Bike Bridge

Four suggestions mentioned Mia Birk, Portland’s first bike coordinator and now a bike-design entrepreneur with Alta Planning and Alta Bicycle Share.

One person suggested former Mayor Sam Adams, who upped the city’s contribution to the bridge by $20 million when its future was in doubt. (Two others, both of whom seemed to struggle with spelling, put in “Adam’s Folly” and “Adams Folley.”)

One person put in “The Lenny Anderson.”

There’s this one, which also happened to be the only suggestion mentioning the streetcar: “The Portland Span or S.P.A.N. (Streetcar, Pedestrian, And Non-Motorized or non-private in the future, if/when busses us the bridge).”

With “Walton’s Way,” one person seemed to allude to one of the region’s most famous bike lovers.

And finally, one person nominated probably one of the least popular bike-lovers in Portland: George W. Bush.

Some suggestions were more likely than others.

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  • Clarence Eckerson January 21, 2014 at 8:36 am

    I want it to be called The Zaxxon Bridge!

    But in reality, “The People’s Bridge” pure and simple would be great.

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  • patrickz January 21, 2014 at 8:44 am

    “BP” sounds practical, easy to say and remember: “take the BP and go right” or, “I came on the BP”… and so on. Chances are that whatever the official name, a nickname will soon come up and stay.

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    • dmc January 22, 2014 at 2:42 pm

      or out of towners might think it stands for the oil company. Perhaps we got paid off to have a nice new bridge.

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  • don arambula January 21, 2014 at 8:55 am

    Political Correctness would never allow the “People’s Bridge”. Association with the “People’s Republic of Portland” make it a non-starter for those with a conservative inclination.

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  • Granpa January 21, 2014 at 9:38 am

    Which ever of the 4 official options is selected it will be a Milquetoast choice. Nothing edgy, nothing inspiring, nothing controversial or fun or humorous, just a bland white bread name as allowed by a committee of white bread bureaucrats. Certainly not my suggestion “Confounded” from the last words of the Led Zeppelin song Crunge.

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    • BIKELEPTIC January 22, 2014 at 12:52 am

      Nothing humorous? Obviously you don’t know how to ride Tillicum.

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  • Sam January 21, 2014 at 9:44 am

    The Kirk Reeves Bridge

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    • Rob Chapman January 21, 2014 at 10:06 am

      I agree, it seems like the natural choice. Naming things after politicians is so banal.

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    • Todd Hudson January 21, 2014 at 10:15 am

      Portland’s usual activists did a good job mobilizing people to suggest the Kirk Reeves Bridge, but this feels like giving someone sainthood the moment they die.

      If we are to name it after a person, it should be after someone who had a bigger overall impact. Ya’know, like women’s suffrage? Kirk was just a flash in the pan.

      Plus, the guy’s last act was to shoot himself in the head in a public park. Think about that. Someone had to come across that mess. Kirk’s final “act” was quite disgraceful, and we shouldn’t be naming bridges after people who shoot themselves in the head in parks. That’s going to give other despondent people ideas….

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      • Rob Chapman January 21, 2014 at 11:41 am

        What did Trimet expect from “Portland’s usual activists” (whoever they are)? Why ask for ideas just to ignore them?

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      • CaptainKarma January 21, 2014 at 12:47 pm


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      • Scott H January 21, 2014 at 1:49 pm

        Where’s the don’t recommend button?

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      • Brian January 22, 2014 at 8:54 am

        And the 22 “likes.” One of my students made the unfortunate decision to take his own life 3 years ago. He would have been a Senior this year, and undoubtedly a lifetime friend, had he not chosen suicide. At the funeral his mother forever changed my perspective on suicide when she said, “We can’t imagine how terribly difficult of a decision this was for you.”
        I may not agree on naming a bridge after this man (though he made me smile more on a daily basis than most), but I disagree even less with judging other people’s actions with little to no understanding of their individual situations.

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      • Daniel R. Miller January 22, 2014 at 12:57 pm

        Wow, way to heap shame around the reality of someone suffering from mental/emotional anguish. Not to mention, here’s someone who gave of himself every day for years and years, providing a positive impact on untold numbers of Portlanders. And all you can offer here is judgmental contempt?

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      • brenda January 23, 2014 at 12:08 pm

        no one mobilized anyone to name it the kirk reeves rainbow bridge! people did it all on their own because he was out there every single day no matter the weather for 12 straight years.

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      • brenda January 23, 2014 at 12:11 pm

        KIRK WAS SICK!! HE COULDN’T HELP IT!! HE WAS SEVERLY DIABETIC INSULIN DEPENDANT! HE ALREADY HAD TOES REMOVED AND HE WAS TIRED PHYSICALLY, MENTALLY, AND SPIRITUALLY. He may have not been had he not spent all those years in the cold trying to make people happy. He lived with me the last year of his life, so I know more than you ever will about him.

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  • Charley January 21, 2014 at 9:59 am

    The names poured in, all right. . . then Trimet ignored them in favor of some other names. It’s especially galling that the most requested name was ignored. I bet Trimet staffers submitted the four remaining names that we’re allowed to vote on now!

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  • Travis Fulton January 21, 2014 at 11:36 am

    My personal favorite was “The Jean Luc Picard Wonder Crossing”

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  • OnTheRoad January 21, 2014 at 11:44 am

    I submitted the BMW Bridge (Bike-Max-Walk) but couldn’t find it in the trimet list.

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  • CaptainKarma January 21, 2014 at 12:54 pm

    This reminds me of our national elections… We can vote for one or the other candidate neither of which most really want. A preselected Clinton or a Christie/Romney clone. This is not what democracy looks like.

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    • Champs January 21, 2014 at 1:49 pm

      I’ve seen what democracy looks like. Hopefully the bridge doesn’t peter out and get shut down by Sam Adams.

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  • Christopher Sanderson January 21, 2014 at 1:14 pm

    People’s Bridge sounds too old left, hippy generic. I really like the idea of naming it after Kirk Reeves, and it’s a shame that the top vote getter is not one of the four finalists. I’d imagine the stigma of suicide does not help with that decision. Outside of that, I think geographic names like Cascadia is cool, and perhaps the native term Wy’East is even more acceptable. Outside of a few county names, there’s little nod to Native American culture here in Oregon, unlike Washington. just my lunch break thoughts.

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    • brenda January 23, 2014 at 12:15 pm

      As I said before Kirk was sick. Severely diabetic insulin dependent. He lost toes and I think was even sicker than I know. He lived with me the last year of his life, left my house on my birthday and went to do what he did. This does not take away from his sacrifice and good will of wanting to go out there and make people happy for 12 straight years no matter the weather. He didn’t do it for the money. He felt driven to make people smile. And that’s what he would tell you. this is why he is a Portland icon…not how he chose to end his life…HE PROVIDED A GREAT SERVICE TO PORTLAND! Even though people were mean to him almost everyday. He put up with hell just to make Portland happy.

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  • Scott H January 21, 2014 at 1:48 pm

    Don’t solicit the public’s opinion just to ignore it, trimet.

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  • Champs January 21, 2014 at 1:59 pm

    Whatever the name, please run it by a panel of teenage boys before the name becomes a distraction from the fact that there are two bridges with 12 auto lanes but only one measly sidewalk between the Hawthorne and Sellwood bridges.

    I don’t want to ride the “Waste” bridge, Tillicum.

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  • dan January 21, 2014 at 2:51 pm

    OK, looks like Tri-Met will steamroll the Kirk Reeves name. Does 1% for Art apply to this project? What about a statue / mural etc. of Kirk?

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    • Jayson January 21, 2014 at 3:30 pm

      Why not put a memorial plaque on the Hawthorne, where Kirk Reeves spent so much time in the public eye. Seems out of place to put his name on this new bridge that he had nothing to do with. He was a great guy I suppose, but does he really have anything on the Ms. Duniway, or some of the other more universal / historical / geographically appropriate names?

      How about homage to the Native Americans who lived here for 10,000 years prior to Lewis and Clark found their way here?

      The public name submission was to nominate names for the bridge, it was NOT a vote. I would hardly call this steamrolling…

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    • brenda January 23, 2014 at 12:17 pm

      we talked about a statue at his memorial and one andie I forget her last name (who organized the memorial) collected monies for a statue, we have never heard of this statue again, nor have we heard of the 3000+ she collected.

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  • Jeff Walenta January 21, 2014 at 4:02 pm

    I hate naming bridges after people in general because they are almost always politicians. I think the finalists are pretty lame and I personally would of liked to see bicycle bridge make it through but I knew that wasn’t going to happen …bifrost was pretty funny as a suggestion

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    • Joe Adamski January 21, 2014 at 9:45 pm

      Concur. For the only bike/ped/transit/carfree bridge in the nation, a pretty unimaginative choice. I personally like the BABS (Bike and Bus Span) so my sister Babs might have ONE thing to Lord over me. 😉

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    • q`Tzal January 26, 2014 at 10:52 pm

      Also Bifrost was the 2nd most popular choice.

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  • dwainedibbly January 21, 2014 at 5:23 pm

    How about “The Oregonian Bridge”? I mean, if we want to be ironic.

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  • Mossby Pomegranate January 21, 2014 at 5:42 pm

    The Beau Breedlove Rainbow Bridge.

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    • Joe Adamski January 21, 2014 at 9:50 pm

      who is he?

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  • Peter W January 21, 2014 at 9:58 pm

    The People’s Spanner

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  • Clarence January 21, 2014 at 11:21 pm

    Please name this after NYC Mayor Ed Koch. That way we can get his name off of the Queensboro Bridge.

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  • redhippie January 22, 2014 at 10:36 am

    Why don’t we just sell the naming rights to pay for the thing. how about “Walmart.com bridge”?

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  • Lenny Anderson
    Lenny Anderson January 22, 2014 at 12:00 pm

    I was at City Council in October to testify re the N. Portland Willamette Greenway Trail when it was announced that the founder and former dean of PSU’s School of Urban Studies, Nohad Toulan and his wife Derce, were killed (hit by a car!) while waiting for a bus in Uruguay! Everyone was shocked and time was made on the agenda for tributes, as he was a key player in creating the UGB and steering Portland away from auto dependence years ago.
    The obvious choice for me for the name of the new bridge…Toulan Memorial Bridge in their honor. I can’t believe that it did not make the final four. The naming committee really missed the boat on this.
    Surprised that Ernie Bonner did not get suggested…he was the chief planner behind the Portland Plan in the 70’s that also began to transform Portland. We are so careless with our history!

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    • Michael Andersen (News Editor)
      Michael Andersen (News Editor) January 22, 2014 at 12:51 pm

      There were actually a couple “Bonner” suggestions, one of which was “Bonner-Clark Bridge.” (Bud? Someone else?) And a bunch of Toulans. I expected the Toulans to be in the final four, too.

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