Discount ends tomorrow for the International Open Streets Summit in Portland

Sunday Parkways northeast 2014-28

Northeast Portland Sunday Parkways, 2014.
(Photo: J.Maus/BikePortland)

The biggest conference about open-streets events (like Sunday Parkways) and tactical urbanism (like Better Block) is coming to Portland next month.

The International Open Streets Summit will bring many people who work to humanize street space to Portland State University from Thursday, Aug. 18 to Saturday, Aug. 20. The draft program includes speakers from Philadelphia; Dallas; Los Angeles; Missoula; Toronto; Cape Town, South Africa; and Santiago, Chile, among others.

The “tactical urbanism” thread is newly added to this conference, reflecting the fact that fast, flexible changes and demos on city streets are a growing trend among community groups and city governments alike. Mike Lydon, a planning consultant helping produce this conference, literally wrote the book on that subject.

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Welcome to Portland’s new era of open streets

Sunday Parkways NW 2011-34-33

Our streets could thrive if we let them.
(Photos © J. Maus/BikePortland)

Something big is happening in Portland: We’re entering an era where streets are seen as places for much more than private vehicle travel and storage. An era where the public right-of-way can reach its potential as a thriving place that adds to the vitality and energy of our city.

Livable streets are in Portland’s DNA, but a combination of factors have recently come together to energize and formalize the movement and soon it could be enshrined in official city policy.

The City of Portland Bureau of Transportation is in the process of selecting a private firm to develop a “Livable Streets Strategy.” According to the request for proposals (PDF), the city is, “looking at innovative ways to open Portland’s streets, parking spaces, plazas, and alleys to a range of events, programming, and physical infrastructure that reinforce the idea that public streets are public places to be enjoyed by all ages and abilities.”

We knew something special was afoot ever since Transportation Commissioner began literally jumping up-and-down and chanting “Bet-ter Block! Bet-ter Block!” at the opening of the Better Naito project in 2015. The three-way romance between City Hall, the Bureau of Transportation and Better Block PDX has helped create the political and public momentum neede to re-think how we use our streets. But it didn’t start there.

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Portland wins bid to host 2016 National Open Streets Summit


Hot off the presses!
(Photo by Linda Ginenthal)

Next August the open streets movement will come to Portland.

Over the weekend we heard the news that Portland has been granted the right to host the 2016 National Open Streets Summit. Bureau of Transportation staffer Linda Ginenthal attended the 2015 event in Atlanta, Georgia over the weekend and shared the news with us yesterday after she flew back to oversee Sunday Parkways.

2016 will be third annual Open Streets Summit. The event is organized by the non-profit Open Streets Project in partnership with DC-based advocacy group the Alliance for Biking and Walking. The goal of the event is to bring together national and international leaders working to implement events like Portland’s Sunday Parkways, where streets are “opened” to people and closed to auto use. The Atlanta event over the weekend drew 125 leaders in the movement. The first summit was held in Los Angeles in 2014.

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