My name is Eric Lundgren. This is about the first golden age of bicycling in Oregon. For many people, the history of bicycling here starts with the 1971 Bicycle Bill. But almost a century before that, in the 1890s, the bicycle was hugely popular. For some riders it was a stylish fad, for others it provided clubs and social networks, for still others it provided racing opportunities and maybe even a little income. Largely forgotten are the first bicycle paths and the ways significant numbers of people depended on them as a part of the transportation infrastructure – not merely for recreation, but part of commuting and errand-running. The “silent steed,” they called it, and for a decade or so, it and not the automobile, was leading edge transportation technology for individuals. With the triumph of the auto, bicycles were rewritten as toys for children, at best training wheels for adult automobile traffic conventions. In the rewrite, autoists forgot the role bicyclists played in road-building.
My header shows a portion of the “Bicycle Road Map, Portland District” published by Cunningham & Banks in May, 1896. That same summer, bicyclists on a do-it-yourself basis began working on the first bicycle path in Portland. By 1899, the state legislature had created a mechanism to build bike paths. This site about my research and about that history.
You can email me at fortunaerota [at] gmail [dot] com.