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Lack of sidewalks, dangerous driving cited as top walking barriers in City of Portland survey

Posted by on November 29th, 2017 at 11:46 am

Walking conditions on SE Foster east of 82nd.
(Photo: J. Maus/BikePortland)

As part of their work to update the citywide walking plan the Portland Bureau of Transportation spent 17 weeks doing a survey to find out what keeps people from doing it. With 4,855 responses tallied, the results are in.

When asked, “What makes walking difficult?” Portlanders from nearly every corner for the city ranked “Sidewalks/walking paths missing on busy streets” as the number one answer. Following closely behind were “Not enough safe places to cross busy streets,” “People driving too fast on residential streets” and “Drivers not stopping for pedestrians crossing the street.”

From PBOT’s PedPDX survey.

The City’s report included a breakdown of respondents by race/enthnicity and geography. 80 percent of respondents were “white/caucasion” Portlanders — that’s eight percent more than the citywide demographic make-up of that group. On the other hand, they heard from only five percent of “hispanic/latino” Portlanders, when they make up 10 percent of our city’s population. There was a similar discrepancy for “black” Portlanders of which only two percent responded to the survey even though they make up six percent of our population.

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To PBOT’s credit, they acknowledged the discrepancy of black/African-American responses. In order to make right by it, the report says the project team will organize “Walking While Black focus groups to better listen to and understand the walking priorities, barriers to walking, and other concerns about walking, directly from Black and African American community members.” The groups will be facilitated by black and African-American PBOT staff in partnership with local organizations like Africa House, the Urban League of Portland, and others.

As far as the geographic distribution, the largest discrepancy between citywide population and number of respondents was in east Portland. PBOT received a 21 percent response rate from that part of the city which has 28 percent of our population.

You can see the full survey report via PBOT’s website (PDF). Learn more about Portland’s walking plan update at the PedPDX project website.

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

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CaptainKarma
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CaptainKarma

The top 5 reasons people don’t walk are directly attributable to too many cars, driving too fast or not following the law.

TonyT
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TonyT

I’d like to add PBOT’s typical non-response when it comes to people parking their cars across sidewalks, rendering them non-existant. There’s a particular apartment building in SE where the tenants have essentially confiscated the sidewalk for their parking purposes. I have requested enforcement again and again, and PBOT does nothing.

I know that people like to look toward good design as the solution, and I agree that bad design is a huge factor. But PBOT really takes the cake for being asleep at the wheel regarding enforcement. They simply don’t respond and drivers know that short of doing 100mph while drunk, they can pretty much get away with driving however they want.

Shoupian
Subscriber
Shoupian

Using Matt Grum’s (Dan Saltzman’s senior policy director) logic, sidewalks and safe crossings will not address the need to have shoulders on I-5 through the Rose Quarter. It’s hard to believe that City’s transportation bureau is really placing the safety of vulnerable road users as top priority when the commissioner in charge is adamant about widening a freeway through the center of the city.

rick
Guest
rick

Easy. It is PBOT refusing to build and maintain paper street trails and bridges.

J_R
Guest
J_R

One thing that PBOT could do to make walking safer and more attractive is to actively survey sidewalks to identify intruding vegetation (note photo above) and significant displacements causing trip hazards. But, no, they rely on complaints related to individual properties. Why not a walk-through by city staffers for a whole neighborhood with blitz of enforcement letters to the property owners?

In a bizarre assignment of responsibilities, PBOT handles the sidewalk surface issues and Bureau of Development Services deals with the vegetation issues.

And, finally, there’s the leaf issue where residents can fill the streets and drainage grates with debris (leaves) including the corners with ramps, thus forcing pedestrians into the streets for two months every year.

Vision Zero. Ha.

Jim Lee
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Jim Lee

Put utility poles in the street instead of the sidewalk.

Huey Lewis
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Huey Lewis

Yeah, I hear you. Folks on Prescott west of 42nd have it super rough. But on Prescott there ^are^ sidewalks. Out here in Portland-not rich-ex-pat-exile outer SE, you’re lucky if there are sidewalks at all. It’s a lot of tires, trash, mud puddles, trash, parked/busted cars and standing water if you’re walking and there’s not a sidewalk under your feet.

Paul Hobson
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Paul Hobson

Bald One
How much time, money and effort did it take PBOT to conduct this survey? Money that could have been spent actually trying to fix some of these issues. Recommended 2

You need surveys like to justify to stakeholders what your priorities are. Otherwise, you’ll be flooded with endless complaints that you did address an individuals’ pet peeves.

David Hampsten
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David Hampsten

Great, another survey. Next they can do a study. And so on.

billyjo
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billyjo

All of our infrastructure is designed for cars and pedestrians are simply an afterthought. So many places need to have dedicated lights for the right turns so that pedestrians can safely cross without getting run over. It will never happen because that means cars would have to wait and we can’t have that happen

JeffS
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JeffS

Doesn’t seem right. I don’t see “fat butt”, “laziness” or “prefer to drive” on the list at all.

There is no doubt that these would have beat out “missing curb ramps”.

Scott Kocher
Guest

This is an important article. 2017 has already broken the record for the most people killed in Portland while walking (online data goes back to 2006). Almost always, it’s a person driving into a person crossing the street. The survey confirms that people all over Portland are well aware that we aren’t safe where there are fast cars, and where there are not safe crossings. Thanks for the walking reporting, keep it coming!

Steve Scarich
Guest
Steve Scarich

Over here in Bend, you would have to add un-shoveled sidewalks. There is a law that requires homeowners to shovel snow in front of their houses, but it gets done maybe 25% of the time, the City itself does not shovel its own sidewalks, and there is zero enforcement (well, they will enforce after my third written complaint). Of course, that is seasonal. I walk everywhere, because I do not feel safe riding my bike. My biggest complain is drivers’ not yielding to me. They will if I step in front of their path, make eye contact and walk aggresively. If I don’t do all three of these things, most will try to bully past me. If you are old, very young, infirm, you are a sitting duck.

maxadders
Guest
maxadders

I live just east of 82nd and have to take a “secondary arterial” to get to bus or MAX. Because several of my neighbors can’t afford to build / maintain sidewalks in their yards, there are none. My path becomes a muddy goat trail of rocks and puddles. Then I come to the corner crossing where utility poles and bushes require pedestrians to step off the curb and walk in the bike lane. On top of all this nonsense, is a storm drain that regularly clogs in the winter and creates a 10-15 foot wide, 6″ deep puddle.

End result: pedestrians entering vehicle lanes. Incredibly unsafe. I’ve complained to PBOT at least once a year for the last four years and they’ve done nothing. The shameful legacy of neglect continues: City Hall doesn’t care about East Portland. Not Fritz, not Saltzman, not Eudaly. All sitting idle while people die.

paikiala
Guest
paikiala

JL,
And you called it in to nuisances, yes or no?

Doug Klotz
Guest
Doug Klotz

Don’t expect everyone to know the jargon. I’d guess he means a neighborhood collector.

K'Tesh
Guest
K'Tesh

I wonder how much effort would be put into fixing these conditions if… Say a group of disabled veterans were to start lodging formal complaints about the vegetation and other obstacles. A few well placed threats of (or actual) legal actions done in the name of the ADA might be able to do some wonders.