Oregon Walks

Leading the march: 10 questions for Noel Mickelberry of Oregon Walks

Monday, July 7th, 2014
noel 320
Oregon Walks Executive Director Noel Mickelberry.
(Photo courtesy Oregon Walks)

Few local nonprofits have changed more in the last few years than Oregon’s main walking advocacy group.

Since 2010, Oregon Walks has renamed itself, relocated its tiny office, passed most of its board seats to new volunteers and shifted its strategy away from direct oversight of local government and toward grant-funded partnerships with other community organizations.

When Executive Director Noel Mickelberry took the reins Monday morning, the group’s transition was complete. We caught up with Mickelberry, 26, as she prepared to start the 24-hour-a-week job to talk about the differences between walking and biking advocacy and the new vision she’s been hired to execute.


Novick wants $1 million from general fund for beacons at 15 crosswalks

Friday, April 18th, 2014
An active warning beacon in North Portland.
(Photo: City of Portland)

The City of Portland’s general fund has a few million dollars to spare, and Commissioner Steve Novick is mounting an unusual campaign to spend some of it on safer street crossings.

In a city where you’re twice as likely to die from traffic as from homicide, Novick and other backers say making roads safer is the most cost-effective way to improve public safety.

In an interview Friday, Novick called out a few police operations in particular as having lower returns on investment.

Oregon Walks’ annual party celebrates an organization at a crossroads

Thursday, October 17th, 2013
Good times at the 2012 Weston Awards.
(Photo: Lillian Karabaic)

Energized by a dynamic young leader with deep ties to local bike advocates, the Portland area’s lead walking advocacy group has changed dramatically in the last four years. It’s about to find out where those changes will take it.

Oregon Walks, known until last year as the Willamette Pedestrian Coalition, has seen rapid changes to its board of directors and just said goodbye to its first-ever full-time executive director, Steph Routh. With its annual party and fundraiser Oct. 26, Oregon Walks will be rallying the supporters who ultimately drive its decisions — and, no doubt, feeling out its new direction.

Saturday is the last day when “early bird” tickets ($37.91 per person) will be available online.

Steph Routh announces resignation from Oregon Walks

Wednesday, August 21st, 2013
Steph at Oregon Walks benefit-2-2
Steph Routh in November 2012.
(Photos © J. Maus/BikePortland)

Oregon Walks, a non-profit advocacy group that works to improve walking conditions around the state, has announced that Executive Director Steph Routh will resign in October.

Routh became the organization’s first full-time staffer when she was named to the position in May 2009. In the ensuing years, Routh helped transform Oregon Walks (formerly known as the Willamette Pedestrian Coalition) by making what was traditionally a quiet, behind-the-scenes organization into a public force to be reckoned with. Just months after taking the job, she asked the community to think hard about the state of walking advocacy in Oregon — a movement that has lacked the spark of and cultural identity evident in the local bicycle scene.

Routh’s personal dedication to the task, professional creativity, and natural charisma drew people to her organization and her cause.

Willamette Pedestrian Coalition changes name to Oregon Walks

Monday, November 12th, 2012
Steph at Oregon Walks benefit-2-2
Leader of Oregon Walks, Steph Routh, is
stepping boldly into the future.
(Photo © J. Maus/BikePortland)

As I hinted back on Friday, Portland’s walking advocates unveiled a new name and logo over the weekend. The group that was formed 21 years ago as the Willamette Pedestrian Coalition is now known as Oregon Walks.

The tagline, which was emblazoned on new t-shirts handed out at their Weston Awards fundraiser event Saturday night, is “Protecting your right to roam.”

See the new logo below the jump… (more…)

Advocacy group unveils ‘Action Plan’ for a more walkable region

Thursday, November 18th, 2010
Willamette Pedestrian Coalition
Executive Director Stephanie Routh
speaking at a 2009 event.
(Photo © J. Maus)

On the heels of recent media attention on the need for safer streets and news of an 80% increase in walking-involved fatalities and injury crashes in Oregon this year, the non-profit Willamette Pedestrian Coalition (WPC) unveiled their Getting Around on Foot Action Plan at a press conference in Beaverton today.

The plan presents an overview of challenges our transportation planners face in creating a more walkable (and rollable, in the case of wheelchair and other mobility device users) region. From the Executive Summary (which you can read in its entirety below): (more…)

Portland non-profit will move offices with only foot power

Friday, July 9th, 2010
Puppet parade bike move
Moving by bike is one thing…
but by foot?!
(Photo © J. Maus)

Bike moves are old hat in Portland. A quick check of the BikePortland archives shows that I first wrote about them way back in April of 2005. Since then there have been hundreds of bike moves in this town, so many that they’ve actually become quite common. And these days, thanks to the rise of cargo bikes, they’ve nearly gone mainstream (at least in Portland).

But a foot move? I had never even considered such a thing until I checked my inbox today and saw an email to the Shift list from the leader of the Willamette Pedestrian Coalition (WPC), Steph Routh.

Newswire: Pedestrian Advocacy Organization Calls for Caution, Safety Improvements

Tuesday, November 10th, 2009

Steph Routh
Willamette Pedestrian Coalition
Office: (503) 223-1597


A Number of Recent Crashes Involving Pedestrians Indicate the Need for Immediate Response and Change

PORTLAND, Ore., Nov. 5, 2009 – It has been a deeply troubling week . On Saturday morning, Oct. 31, Benjamin Story was struck in a hit and run collision when on Highway 99E just north of Aurora. On Sunday afternoon, Nov. 1, John Thomas Nelson was hit and critically injured on Highway 217. On Sunday evening, Nov, 1, Lindsay Leonard was killed and Jessica Finlay suffered serious injuries while
crossing in a marked crosswalk on 80th and SE Foster. On Monday afternoon, Nov. 02, Susan Ogilvy was struck while crossing Scholls Ferry Road near Beaverton Hillsdale Highway.

“The sheer number of serious collisions between pedestrians and cars this past week demonstrates that our traffic safety deficit is not found in one person’s error,” says Steph Routh, Director of the Willamette Pedestrian Coalition. “It is not about one specific engineering problem. Our region continues to grapple with broad-spectrum traffic safety issues that jeopardize all road users. We need to invest far more funding in developing a network of streets that accommodate all users – pedestrians, cyclists, transit riders and motorists – throughout our region as well as raising awareness about everyone’s rights and responsibilities as road users.”

Funding is essential to improving our region’s pedestrian environment. Entire neighborhoods remain without sidewalks. Pedestrian connections to bus stops and business centers are incomplete or absent in many areas. Additional funding is necessary, and our elected officials need to prioritize transportation that is used by everyone, for everyone is a pedestrian at some point in their day. The recent transportation bill that passed the state legislature, for example, did not raise the minimum spending on bicycle and pedestrian facilities from 1% to 1.5%, which would have been a small but a positive step. Instead, we received earmarks for highway projects. This is recessive and needs to change.

Awareness is also an important aspect of traffic safety. Pedestrian needs are real, and both pedestrian and motorists need to be more aware of each other. The number one cause of pedestrian injury in Portland is failure of drivers to yield to pedestrians in a crosswalk. Many drivers are unaware that every corner is a crosswalk, even if the crosswalk is unmarked, and that drivers in Oregon must stop and stay stopped for pedestrians at any corner.

There will be a quiet safety awareness action along SE Foster Rd near 80th Ave. on Tuesday, 10 November 5:00-6:30pm. If you would like to participate, you are invited to bring a homemade sign that asks everyone to watch out for one another and to share the road safely. Please contact the Willamette Pedestrian Coalition with any questions or comments: HYPERLINK “mailto:steph@wpcwalks.org” steph@wpcwalks.org.

As we move into fall and winter months, it is imperative that pedestrians and drivers alike be cognizant of their surroundings, and that drivers recognize their added responsibility due to greater speeds and vehicle weight.

Let us keep each other safe, and let us invest in a safer streetscape for everyone. As we grieve the loss of one young woman and think of others in serious condition, we should be more vigilant in our safekeeping of our fellow citizens.

About the Willamette Pedestrian Coalition:
The Willamette Pedestrian Coalition (WPC) is a non-profit community-based membership organization in the greater Portland, Oregon area dedicated to promoting walking and making the conditions for walking safe and attractive. The WPC advocates for better laws, enhanced enforcement, more sidewalks and signed crosswalks, education programs, community improvements designed for pedestrians, and increased funding to support these activities. For more information about the Willamette Pedestrian Coalition, please visit www.wpcwalks.org.

Mayor visits dangerous crosswalk; will recommend “immediate changes”

Monday, November 9th, 2009
A woman crossing SE Foster at 80th.
(Still taken from Oregonian video
– watch it below).

Responding to a week where several Portlanders were injured and one woman was killed while walking across SE Foster Blvd, Portland Mayor Sam Adams visited the site this morning. His visit comes on the eve of an awareness action by local safety advocates and on the same morning that national organization Transportation For America released a new report about pedestrian safety.

Adams said he walked several blocks around the intersection of Foster and 80th. After his walk Adams updated his Twitter account saying he would “recommend some immediate changes today.” (more…)

After tragic week, pedestrian advocates call for “immediate response and change”

Friday, November 6th, 2009

“The sheer number of serious collisions between pedestrians and cars this past week demonstrates that our traffic safety deficit is not found in one person’s error.”
— Steph Routh, Director of Willamette Pedestrian Coalition

On Sunday night, two young women were struck by a car while attempting to cross the street at SE 80th and Foster; one was killed and the other seriously injured. Several other traffic incidents in which people on foot were killed or sustained major injuries also occurred in the past week in Oregon.

Portland’s pedestrian advocacy group, the Willamette Pedestrian Coalition (WPC), says these incidents demonstrate an acute need for more investment in complete streets. They plan to hold an awareness action at the site of the fatality on Foster Road to bring attention to this issue. Here are more details on the event: (more…)

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