No longer “pedestrian”: Advocacy group to unveil new name, logo, mission

Out with the old.

The Willamette Pedestrian Coalition will not exist — at least in name — after Saturday night. The non-profit that pushes for infrastructure and policies to encourage more walking has been operating in Portland for over two decades, and now it’s ready for a major change.

Major changes at our region’s walking advocacy organization are bound to impact bicycling. Walking advocates push for many policies and projects that reduce car use and help create the conditions necessary for better bike access.

At their annual Weston Awards fundraising event this Saturday, the WPC will unveil a new name, a new logo, and an expanded vision.

Stephanie Routh, the dynamic leader that has given the organization a shot in the arm since taking over in 2009, is keeping the announcements under wraps until the event; but she told me yesterday that “pedestrian” will no longer be part of their name.

An animated Stephanie Routh,
telling one of her wonderful anecdotes
at the 2011 BTA Alice Awards.
(Photo © J. Maus/BikePortland)

This is great news to me. I see “pedestrian” the same way I see “cyclist.” They are both unnecessary labels that do nothing but serve as tools for control and labels that make it easier to divide, define, and stereotype people. I favor language that puts people and actions first and I haven’t used “cyclist” or “pedestrian” on this website for many years.

Routh shares my belief in the importance of language. “We have come to understand that, while everyone is a pedestrian at some point in the day, few people identify as ‘pedestrian’,” she shared with me yesterday.

“This movement is about what people do — and want to be able to do — more than how they identify.”

While language is important, it wasn’t the main motivation for the new name. “We need to change what it means to walk in our towns and cities,” says Routh, “And that expanded mission, we realized, required a new name to drive it.”

The Westons are also an opportunity to recognize those who have inspired and broken new ground to make walking easier and more pleasant in Portland. The WPC will hand out four Weston Awards Saturday night. The event will also include the “Shoeseum” exhibit with shoes from notable Portlanders. The guess emcee for the festivities will be none other than Portland Mayor Sam Adams.

For more details on the event, and to buy tickets, visit the official website.

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