America Walks Attends North Portland Transportation Kick-off Event
America Walks’ Communications and Outreach Specialist Kelsey Card attended the North Portland Transportation Kickoff hosted by the The North Portland Transportation Partnership (NPTP) in Portland, Oregon on September 19th, 2018.
After years of growing concerns around transportation, safety, walkability, accessibility, and multi-modal mobility in North Portland, Oregon, active community members took matters into their own hands by creating a platform to express those concerns with local leaders and transportation departments face to face — and so The North Portland Transportation Kickoff was born.
The goal was to create a shared venue for residents, businesses, government organizations and others to discuss and influence transportation projects that affect all community members. About a year in the making and planning, the event came to fruition from a proactive coalition of the North Portland land use group and various North Portland neighborhood association transportation committees, ultimately forming a new partnership to host the Kickoff, the The North Portland Transportation Partnership (NPTP).
Oregon’s Speaker of the House, North Portland’s own Tina Kotek, and Portland Bureau of Transportation (PBOT) Commissioner Chloe Eudaly gave opening remarks. Kotek recognized that living in North Portland can feel distant from city hall or the capital, and that this was an energizing and opportunistic way to bridge that gap. She reiterated the progress of the Keep Oregon Moving Act and gave an overview of the traffic congestion issues, a failing I-5 bridge, overall safety issues, and the importance of reducing emissions, particularly diesel, in North Portland. She also highlighted plans for installing an at-grade crossing on Columbia Blvd, a notoriously dangerous road for Portland pedestrians.
About 150 people showed up to listen, network, and voice their concerns about various pedestrian and bike issues, traffic congestion, emissions, freeway expansion, electric buses, Vision Zero initiatives, and more. America Walks recognizes the importance of local action and engagement around issues related to increasing walkability and reducing pedestrian fatalities. Meetings like this can be a powerful way for community members to ask questions, network, and share ideas. At this event, there was also a large map where folks could physically circle their concern areas.
Both PBOT and the Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT) gave presentations that provided insight into the life cycle of a transportation project, from analysis and planning to working on the ground. The agencies also highlighted key projects that many community members had been waiting to hear about, including potential walkability and safety wins in the form of crosswalk and HAWK signal installation plans — part of the St. Johns Truck Strategy / Project Purpose.
Portland’s transit service provider, Trimet, also made an appearance. Chief Operating Officer Maurice Henderson spoke at the event, reiterating that transportation at its heart is a mobility issue and that Trimet is ever-evolving. Henderson highlighted upcoming projects around low-income fair, a pollution plan, and 24/7 expansion access.
America Walks works hard to find ways to empower local community change agents to become more engaged in their neighborhoods. America Walks’ Former Walking College Fellow Pat Jewett was a member of the core committee that helped put on the North Portland summit.
“We were successful in connecting neighbors and agencies. I believe the agencies got to see how passionate and involved we are about North Portland and multi modal issues,” says Jewett.
The NPTP committee group is an active and evolving partnership working on all things connectivity in North Portland. The committee hopes to host a similar event like this in the Spring of 2019, with more time for tabling and break-out sessions.
For all the ways that North Portlanders connect — walk, bike, bus, drive or roll — vocal community members have inspired a new kind of fusion and accountability around active transportation projects and pedestrian-first design going into the future.