Posted by Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) on September 24th, 2009 at 10:52 am
an advocacy group devoted
Portland is renown for its bike scene and the strong, vibrant advocacy movement that exists around it. But what about our non-motorized friends who use their feet to get around? Where is Portland's 'pedestrian community'?
The Willamette Pedestrian Coalition wants to find out. The non-profit advocacy group holds their annual meeting tonight in Southeast Portland and they've also just launched an online survey with hopes of creating a prioritized list of what walkers want.
The reasons why Portland pedestrian scene is so quiet compared the bike scene is a somewhat frequent topic in local advocacy insider circles. It has also been noticed by at least one local reporter, who happened upon a fatal pedestrian-bus collision back in 2008 and instantly realized it would not be a major news story (if it was someone on a bike, he reasoned, it'd be a very big deal).
In America, the vast majority of daily bike riders identify themselves proudly as "cyclists" (although this is changing as bike use grows). This self-labeling leads them to being passionate about bike-related causes and supportive of bike organizations. The problem for pedestrian advocates is -- well, when's the last time you heard someone call themselves a "pedestrian" or purchase a shirt or get a tattoo identifying them as such?
Another issue is advocacy capacity. The Bicycle Transportation Alliance (BTA) has been around for over 15 years and, in large part due to the phenomenon mentioned above, they have a healthy number of members, major donors, and fundraising events. The BTA has partnered with the WPC in some ways over the years (most notably in helping them lobby in Salem), but for the most part, the BTA focuses only bike-specific issues.
the Willamette Pedestrian
Coalition -- is a shoe wedding
in her future?
(Photo © J. Maus)
Back in May the WPC hired Steph Routh to be their director. Routh has long ties into the local bike scene. She is a regular volunteer with Shift and their monthly Breakfast on the Bridges event. She is also president of Umbrella, a local non-profit that helps support "community based street culture" and at the Multnomah County Bike Fair back in 2006, Routh even married her trusty ten-speed.
Portland is one of the most walkable cities in America and our brand of transportation planning (giving folks options to the single-occupancy vehicle) favors people who walk in the same way it favors those of us who ride bikes.
Hopefully Routh (and others) can help bring the same spirit of fun and exciting activism to the cause of making Portland a nicer place to walk. Pedestrians unite!
Willamette Pedestrian Coalition Annual Meeting
2009 Annual Meeting
Sept 24, 2009 - 6:30-8:30pm
(program starts at 7:00pm)
Lucky Lab Brew Pub (915 SE Hawthorne)
(Bus Lines 14-Hawthorne, 10-Harold)