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.”
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.
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.
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