I just found out last night (Tuesday February 1st 2022) that former Portland mayor Bud Clark had passed away at the age of 90. A man best known before his two mayoral terms as a pub owner and the model of the (in)famous 1978 “Expose Yourself To Art” poster that may have hung in your dorm (the poster even made an appearance in the first episode of The Young Ones, and that’s a British show!) Clark was a left-leaning populist who ousted conservative establishment mayor Frank Ivancie in the 1984 election. Clark left quite the lasting impact on the city by the time he left City Hall at the end of 1992.
One of the things he was best known for was cycling. Having a big-city mayor whose primary form of transport was by bicycle during the Reagan-Bush years was a big deal. Heck, it’s still a big deal today. Since Bud, we’ve had mayors who would ride a bike for photo ops, but once the cameras weren’t pointed at them, they’d get back in the car. I’d love to say that Portland became a bicyclist utopia during his tenure, but most of the bike city we know today came afterwards. But the image of “The Cycling Mayor” was still a big deal.
After three decades of mayors competent (Katz, Adams to a degree) and not so (the rest), I still consider Bud Clark my favorite mayor, despite the fact that he left office nine years before I even moved to Portland. What can I say, he was a colorful figure in mostly the good sense. And I could get behind his riding style: He was no spandex clad racer, rather, he rode a mid-eighties Univega mountain bike with a giant Wald basket--an aesthetic myself and many others have “rocked” and still rocked.
Back in 2013, my good friend Carl Larson co-led a bicycle tour with Bud around the central city. Bud talked about his own personal history and his tenure as mayor. It was a great ride and ended naturally at the Goose Hollow Inn, Bud’s own tavern. It was good to chat with him afterwards.
We’ll miss ya, Bud.
More from the archives:
Photos from the 2013 Bud Clark bike ride below.
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