don stathos

Sam Oakland, leader of the ‘Shift of the 1970s,’ dies at 80

Michael Andersen (Contributor) by on April 1st, 2014 at 9:55 am

Pioneering Portland bike advocate Sam Oakland
received a Bud Clark Award for lifetime achievement
from the Bicycle Transportation Alliance in 2001.
(Photo courtesy BTA.)

An often-forgotten forefather of Portland’s street-level bike advocacy movement died last week.

Sam Oakland, an English professor, poet and author who rode his bicycle to work at what was then Portland State College, started rallying bicycle riders to attend City Hall hearings in the late 1960s and led citizen actions in support of Oregon’s groundbreaking 1971 Bike Bill.

“There just wasn’t a lot of advocacy going on at that time,” said Karen Frost, who followed in Oakland’s steps 25 years later as the first executive director of the Bicycle Transportation Alliance. “He was really kind of a prime mover.”

He called his volunteer network the “Bicycle Lobby,” and referred to himself only as its “clerk.”

[Read more…]

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

Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) by on March 28th, 2011 at 2:14 pm

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. [Read more…]

Read the letter to TriMet about naming new bridge after Don Stathos

Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) by on February 24th, 2011 at 10:56 am

Last week we broke the news that the Oregon Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Committee (a governor-appointed committee that advises ODOT on biking and walking issues and projects) planned to make an official request to TriMet that the new Portland-Milwaukie Light Rail Bridge be named after Don Stathos, father of the 1971 Oregon Bike Bill. Today the OBPAC released their letter. Read it below…

Neil McFarlane
TriMet General Manager
4012 SE 17th Ave.
Portland, OR 97202

RE: Naming the Portland–Milwaukie Light Rail Bridge over the Willamette River

Dear Neil,

The Portland-Milwaukie light-rail line embodies the philosophy of active transportation. With that in mind, we would like to propose that the project’s new bridge spanning the Willamette River be named the (Don) Stathos Bridge as a fitting memorial to an Oregon pioneer and trailblazer in the field of active transportation.

As we celebrate the 40th anniversary of Oregon’s original Bicycle and Pedestrian Bill during 2011, it is fitting that we pay tribute to a man who brought awareness of and support to active transportation for our state, region and local communities.

In 1971, Don Stathos, a Republican state representative and avid bicyclist from Jacksonville, Oregon, sponsored House Bill 1700. Only nine representatives and one state senator originally backed the Bicycle Bill. At each stage of the legislative process, the bill passed by just one vote. Initially, Governor Tom McCall didn’t favor the bill, but he changed his mind as he came to believe it was a good thing for Oregon and Oregonians. The governor signed the bill into law on the steps of the state capitol using the seat of Stathos’ Schwinn Paramount as a table.

The bill allowed for the creation of the present-day Oregon Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Committee, a governor-appointed committee that the Oregon Department of Transportation on bicycling and walking. (The Oregon Bicycle Advisory Committee (OBAC) was formed by ORS 366.112, a bill passed in 1973. In 1995, the Oregon Transportation Commission officially recognized the OBAC’s role in pedestrian issues; the committee became the Oregon Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Committee (OBPAC)). In 2010 the committee awarded grants for approximately $5 million for the design and construction of bicycle and pedestrian facilities.

We realize this request comes very early in the project process. Nevertheless, please allow our collective wishes to be considered when the project moves toward choosing a name for the bridge. We can think of no better choice than to honor Don Stathos. We all stand on his shoulders as we make active transportation a real part of public policy and public works for our society.


Oregon Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Committee

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

Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) by on February 18th, 2011 at 11:59 am

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. [Read more…]

“Father of the Bicycle Bill” passes away

Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) by on October 20th, 2005 at 8:36 pm

[Update: Obituary published in local newspaper.]

I just got word that Don Stathos has passed away. Back in 1971, Stathos introduced the Bicycle Bill into the state legislature. The bill demanded that a minimum of 1 percent of highway construction funds went to building bike paths on newly built and reconstructed roads. At the time this concept of committing public money to bike lanes was revolutionary. In 2001 the BTA awarded Don with the Bud Clark Lifetime Achievement Award for his dedication to cyclists.

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. His bill passed into law as ORS 366.514.

Here are a few quotes attributed to Don Stathos:

“If you wanted to do something you were going to drive, not necessarily because you were lazy; but because there were no other options.”

“We’ve constructed this nation so that it’s impossible to stay in good physical shape, that’s a sad commentary on the richest nation in the world.”

Everyone who rides a bike in Portland enjoys the legacy of Don Stathos’ vision. Thank you Don.