Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Celebrate Tom McCall's 100th - Born March 22nd, 1913

There are many reasons to celebrate what would be Tom McCall's 100th birthday!  Recent history hardly offers a more important and transformative figure in Oregon history.  Probably not even Mark Hatfield.

For people who bike, we remember a progressive Republican who agreed that biking deserved more love and serious thought.

Tom McCall's Official Portrait - Henk Pander

McCall signs the Bike Bill in 1971 on the Capitol Steps

He signed the second bike bill in 1971 and gave bicycling the first stable road funding.

The progress reports are fun to read, full of crazy optimism.  And it's too bad momentum tailed off.  So much more could have been done, of course.

One thing we lost was a clear definition of "utility cycling."  In the 70s, 80s, and 90s, "recreational cycling" dominated and we are only now recovering it.  Today we could add comfort and safety, however, to the list of criteria.

Here's a fuzzy picture of a 1971 map of the Salem bike network. It shows the path on Highway 22 when it was shiny and new, and shows a continuation into south Salem of the route on SE Berry and what I think is the Croisan Trail. Keubler and Cordon roads don't yet exist, and West Salem is mostly rural.

There will be other notes and articles about his birthday, and they'll be worth reading. If you know about McCall, take a moment to remind yourself about him. And if you are new to Oregon or don't otherwise know of him, take several moments and learn about this great giant!

(1913 was an interesting year! For more see the end of the first bike bill, the 360 panorama of Commercial Street in Fox Blue, the anniversary of the Union St. Railroad Bridge, and the SHINE historical digest.)

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