Downtown pedestrian counts up 64% in ‘tremendous rebound’

The Yacht Rock Pedalpalooza ride rolled through West Burnside and 10th back in July. It was the busiest intersection for foot traffic downtown this spring. (Photo: Jonathan Maus/BikePortland)
Intersection totals. (Source: Downtown Clean & Safe)

Despite years of terrible headlines and a persistent narrative from many people that Portland is “dying,” new data from the Portland Business Alliance shows that our downtown core is showing major signs of life.

According to numbers gleaned from annual counts compiled by Downtown Clean & Safe, a 213-block business improvement district managed by the PBA, the number of pedestrians downtown has jumped 64% from March 1 to June 9th of this year compared to the same period last year.

“People are returning to Downtown Portland in dramatic numbers compared to 2021. The city is far busier than last year, and the community is flocking into downtown for large-scale events, dinner and entertainment,” read a statement about the new numbers.

Hundreds of people watched the Portland Criterium on Saturday. And that was just one of many bike-related events that have helped bring people downtown this summer.

This is quite a different headline than last week when a study based on cell phone data blanketed local headlines because it showed Portland lagging far behind other cities in downtown recovery since the one-two punch of protests and the pandemic. But last week’s study conveniently left out several major downtown destinations including the Pearl District, Old Town, Portland State University and the culture and theater district.

To get their data, Downtown Clean & Safe used Placer.ai, an artificial intelligence tool that specializes in counting foot traffic. This has given them a much more comprehensive look at pedestrian counts than their previous methodology of using manual counts at a limited number of intersections and times.

According to the most recent numbers, the busiest foot traffic intersection downtown is West Burnside and 10th, right outside Powell’s Books.

Look more closely into the numbers here.