Note: I began writing this article back in May but kept postponing it due to a constant flow of more time-sensitive stories. The recent passing of Ruth Bascom has made the publishing of this article important. It seems that the majority of the bike infrastructure we all enjoy today came about during the 70’s, and Bascom was instrumental in this process.
I’ve been poking around looking at Eugene and Springfield cycling history recently, my interested piqued by a reader sending in this old story from 1978 about a woman being arrested in Springfield for riding her bike in the street.
“Eugene engineers, planners, law enforcement officers, and citizens explain the successful bicycle program of Oregon’s second largest city. Twelve monographs examine the planning, design, construction, and use of Eugene’s bikeway system.” -from 1981’s “Bicycles in Cities,” put out by the City of Eugene
Quite accidentally, I discovered that the City of Eugene bicycling website has an online archive of old “Bicycles in Cities – A Eugene Perspective” monographs. From what I can tell, the 12 volume set was originally published in 1981 in individual newsletter form. They cover a wide range of topics – from the existence of a late 70’s bicycle committee, the previous bicycle master plan, why we have left side and contra-flow bike lanes, the building of the Willamette bridges, the Fern Ridge and River Paths, and many other things. In fact, is appears that the majority of the infrastructure that we have today came about in the 1970’s.
The monographs are full of great pictures and amazing stories, and at only 4 pages each are a must-read for anyone interested in local history, advocacy, or biking in general. We can learn from our past – or at the very least enjoy the 70’s era cartoons and vintage bicycles. Give it a read, and then lets try to make 2010-2020 another 1970-1980.
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