Better Block’s ‘Project Pathway’ program now formally integrated into PSU curriculum

The plaza on SW 3rd (left) and Better Naito are Better Block’s biggest successes. (Photos: J. Maus/BikePortland)

This story was written by Malia Knapp-Rossi, a Master of Urban and Regional Planning candidate at Portland State University and intern with Better Block PDX.

Better Block PDX is excited to announce that Portland State University’s Transportation Research and Education Center (TREC) has adopted the Project Pathway program.

A total of fifteen projects have been shepherded through the Pathway since 2015, including four that will be built in the first phase of the City of Portland’s Central City in Motion plan.

As BikePortland shared back in February, the Pathway program empowers PSU students and the greater Portland community to collaborate on low cost, transportation projects to serve neighborhood needs. These D.I.Y urbanism projects are fully integrated into the academic curriculum. The next generation of engineers and planners develop detailed traffic plans, public participation events, and transportation performance measures in order to create a safe and effective implementation path.

Founded in 2006, the nationally-funded, interdisciplinary TREC seeks to elevate “collaborative research and education that provide a unique lens on transportation insight for vibrant communities.” The PSU Project Pathway curriculum and goals align closely with center’s mission. This partnership will help institutionalize, streamline, and increase the capacity of the program. For the past two years, this collaboration and the Better Block PDX intern position has been supported by PSU’s Institute for Sustainable Solutions (ISS). Under the wing of the sustainability-focused center, the Pathway matured into a formal program with greater capacity to support more projects, students, and classes.


Better Block announced the PSU partnership at an event last week.
(Photo: Better Block PDX)

Better Block PDX, a public spaces advocacy nonprofit, has spent the last four years working with Portland State University (PSU) students to develop design and implementation plans for community-driven transportation projects. In collaboration with PSU faculty, PSU’s ISS, graduate-level urban planning and engineering students, the City of Portland’s Bureau of Transportation, and community organizations—Better Block PDX created the annual PSU Project Pathway program.

The Pathway program provides a practicum experience for PSU students, increases capacity for community organizations, and has been successful at influencing policy and leading to permanent changes in Portland’s streetscape — most notably the Better Naito project. A total of fifteen projects have been shepherded through the Pathway since 2015, including four that will be built in the first phase of the City of Portland’s Central City in Motion plan that kicked off this past weekend.

Better Block has had an indelible mark on Portland’s most innovative transportation projects in recent years. Learn more about the history of the organization in their Project Milestones report below:

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— Malia Knapp

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Todd Boulanger
Todd Boulanger
4 years ago

Sweet! Way to Go Better Block PDX (and PSU)!!

Roberta M Robles
Roberta M Robles
4 years ago

I support these programs. But like too many cooks in a kitchen, these programs should teach young transport professionals to ‘leave the nest’ and spread the awesomeness to other communities. We need these awesome young Transport warriors to leave the Portland nest and take this knowledge out to rural Oregon. Feels like too many cooks in the kitchen and not enough direct action outside of Oregon. Supermajority in the House, Senate and Governorship and we may not get a diesel bill or freeway moratorium. Disadvantaged people never wanted Cap & Trade yet Democrats wasted another session without any major statewide transportation improvements besides more ODOT pork stuck in traffic. Ramp Signals at the Rose Quarter still prioritize ODOT Region 1 carpark green light across the bridge onto I-84/I5 quick access, which pushes wait times for cyclists and local trips heading to east Portland.