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.