BikePortland

Walking advocacy event will focus on growing local movement


A nearly carfree Last Thursday on Alberta-88.jpg
(Photo © J. Maus)

The Willamette Pedestrian Coalition (WPC) will host a presentation and discussion tomorrow night to spur attention on walking issues, or what they call “Feet as traffic.” At the event, the WPC will discuss why advocating for walking is important, how this movement is growing, potential synergies with bike advocates, and what the next year has in store. WPC will also give a sneak preview of its Getting Around on Foot Action Plan.

The event comes as walking continues to garner headlines. Last week, Oregon Public Radio hosted a wide-ranging discussion about “Foot Traffic” on their Think Out Loud show. In yesterday’s paper, The Oregonian reported a “dramatic increase in pedestrian deaths this year”; and just this morning, the Police Bureau responded to a major collision in North Portland where a man driving a car ran into several people, including a four year old in a stroller who sustained life-threatening injuries.

WPC Director Steph Routh says the time is right to step up walking advocacy effort both locally and nationally. As for the relationship between biking and walking, she says while the two issues have a lot in common (shared paths, funding pots, and advocates), there are “marked differences.” “We need to plan for both, recognize the synergies and honor the differences in these two vital transportation networks.”

Routh says their new Action Plan will help prioritize improvements to the region’s walking environment and it comes after a year and a half of citizen surveys, meeting with regional transportation agencies, and observational fieldwork. Routh calls the plan a “foundational document for the organizations’ future advocacy work.”

Portland’s transportation advocacy ecosystem has existed for far too long without a coordinated and high-profile walking advocacy group. The WPC is poised to take on that role. Join them on tomorrow night to get in on the ground floor.

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