Portland launches ‘PedPDX’ to update citywide walking plan

East Portland street scenes-8
Crossing large arterials in east Portland — like 122nd — should be much easier.
(Photo: J. Maus/BikePortland)

When it comes to moving people in Portland, “walking” is listed in our 2035 Comprehensive Plan as the highest priority mode. To make sure that policy makes it into practice, the Bureau of Transportation has embarked on the first update of their Pedestrian Plan since 1998. They call it “PedPDX”.

PBOT should stop using “ped” and “pedestrian” and replace it with “walk” and “walker”.

Yesterday PBOT launched a survey to recruit 15 Citizen Advisory Committee members and unveiled the plan’s new website.

“The plan will prioritize sidewalks, crossing improvements, and other investments to make walking safer and more comfortable across the city,” the site reads. “It will identify the key strategies and tools we will use to make Portland a truly great walking city.”

The plan will aim to do that by producing a project list that will guide investment, create policies that influence how projects are implemented, and help walking compete with other transportation modes as our city grows. PBOT acknowledges that a new plan is needed to address the fact that, “significant gaps and deficiencies remain” in the walking network, especially in neighborhoods far from the central city. The existing 1998 plan was created in a time long before we considered transportation equity and Vision Zero — two principles that dominate investment and policy decisions today.

When the 1998 Pedestrian Plan was passed, the Pearl District was, “a tangle of dirt streets, railroad tracks and warehouses.”


Portland mode priority policy in the 2035 Comprehensive Plan (adopted June 2016).

Here’s what PBOT says PedPDX will do:

— Establish a clear plan vision, goals, and objectives
— Identify gaps and needs in Portland’s pedestrian network (including needs for new sidewalks, crossings, and other pedestrian improvements)
— Prioritize needs to ensure that we are directing funding to locations with the greatest needs first (project prioritization will reflect the City’s commitment to improving equity outcomes and reaching our Vision Zero goal)
— Articulate the strategies, actions, and tools we will use to improve walking conditions within prioritized areas, and across the city
— Identify context-sensitive design solutions for various part of the city
— Update the City’s pedestrian classifications and designations, which help drive pedestrian design requirements; and
— Identify the performance measures we will use to track our progress implementing the plan over time

This plan will likely have many intersections with bicycle use. With construction of a network of protected bikeways downtown expected to begin next year, PBOT needs clear policy guidance for how to integrate walkways into these new street designs. Another issue that’s like to come up is a design standard for separating bicycles users from people walking on popular paths like the Waterfront, Esplanade, and Willamette Greenway paths.

Another major issue PBOT will address as part of this plan is street crossings — a very weak link in both our walking and biking networks. The plan will include a “pedestrian network gap analysis” where crossing gaps citywide will be quantified. A related and extremely important issue that PedPDX will tackle is parking setback standards. Whether walking or biking, many of Portland’s crosswalks would be much safer if PBOT would enforce and/or create new parking restrictions near corners. When people park too close to corners, it’s difficult for walkers and bikers to see oncoming cross-traffic.

PBOT hopes to have a draft plan completed by July 2018 and council adoption by fall of that same year.

Learn more and apply to be on the CAC at the PedPDX website.

— Jonathan Maus: (503) 706-8804, @jonathan_maus on Twitter and

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