PEDESTRIAN MASTER PLAN
Walking and the Community
Walking is the oldest and most basic form of human transportation. It requires no fare, no fuel, no license, and no registration. With the exception of devices to enhance the mobility of the disabled, walking demands no special equipment. Thus, walking is the most affordable and accessible of modes.
Walking is clean, easy on the infrastructure, healthy for the individual and integral to community livability. People who walk know their neighbors and their neighborhood. A community that is designed to support walking is livable and attractive. Peter Calthorpe has written,
At the core ... is the pedestrian. Pedestrians are the catalyst which makes the essential qualities of communities meaningful. They create the place and time for casual encounters and the practical integration of diverse places and people. Without the pedestrian, a community's common ground - its parks, sidewalks, squares and plazas, become useless obstructions to the car. Pedestrians are the lost measure of a community, they set the scale for both center and edge of our neighborhoods.1
Portland has a history of creating a wonderful pedestrian scale, from the legacies of the original platting, with the Park Blocks and the 200-foot (61 m) block faces downtown, to the conscious decisions to reclaim areas from the automobile, with the Transit Mall and Waterfront Park. Neighborhoods that developed a century ago remain very walkable
today. The history of civic planning in Portland is strong; the central city owes its vitality to the care and creativity that went into the Downtown Plan of 1972 and the Central City Plan of 1988.
Walking as Transportation
Although pedestrians have been valued for their contribution to urban vitality, walking has not, until recently, been considered a serious component of the modern transportation system. As Marcus Wigan has noted, walking generates no revenue and has "no dedicated major body with revenue streams and information flows to consider investments and regulatory measures."2
A century ago, when a bold vision of the mechanical "modern" future began to emerge, it seemed inevitable that walking as transportation would be superseded by ever-faster machines. The subsequent evolution of urban form to accommodate the automobile's speed and range fulfilled this forecast, creating new environments in which the pedestrian simply does not fit.
Like most North American cities, Portland has its share of edge communities developed around automobile transportation. In the last several decades, the City has annexed many neighborhoods where streets were not built to urban standards, principally in Southwest Portland and in mid-Multnomah County. The inventory of sidewalks and curb ramps conducted for the Pedestrian Master Plan shows that these areas are largely lacking pedestrian facilities, even on arterial streets (see Chapter 4).
Research on walking suggests that simply adding sidewalks in these areas will not create walkable communities. The LUTRAQ Project (Making the Land Use Transportation Air Quality Connection)
established a correlation between pedestrian modal share and four Pedestrian Environmental Factors (PEFs): ease of street crossings, sidewalk continuity, street connectivity, and topography3.
The inner, older neighborhoods of Portland score well on the PEF scales. They lie on the most level ground, and they share a historic development pattern - a grid of connected streets with sidewalks on both sides and a dense mix of land uses. A travel behavior survey conducted by Metro in
1994 validates the LUTRAQ prediction: about 28% of all trips in these inner, mixed-use areas are made on foot, compared to 5% in suburban areas in the region4 . Not surprisingly, a survey commissioned by the Portland Office of Transportation in 1994 showed that residents in inner
areas were very satisfied with the safety and convenience of walking in their neighborhoods5 . Clearly, walking has the potential to be a very important component of the transportation system.
A New Paradigm
As we near the millennium, a new "bold vision" has taken root, a complex and multidimensional vision that revives the most practical of the discarded patterns of the past, and tempers them with the technology of the future. It is a vision of pedestrian pockets and urban villages linked by high-speed transit; of main streets and neo-traditional neighborhoods with corner stores. It is a vision that recognizes the importance of all modes, reconciles the disciplines of transportation and land-use planning, and respects the contributions of ordinary people to decisions about the public realm.
This new vision was reflected in the passage of the Intermodal Surface Transportation Efficiency Act (ISTEA) in 1991. Under this innovative federal law, states and metropolitan areas were required to develop longrange plans that include pedestrian and bicycle elements. These plans must be constrained to a realistic estimate of future funding. The law also directed new flexibility to the use of most federal transportation funds. It appears these provisions and others favorable to pedestrian travel will be continued in the new transportation bill, the Transportation Equity Act for the 21st Century (TEA-21).
At the state level in Oregon, the new paradigm yielded the Transportation Planning Rule (TPR), adopted in 1991 by the Oregon State Land Conservation and Development Commission. The rule requires reduction in vehicle miles traveled per capita, changes to zoning and development codes to make them more pedestrian-friendly, and also requires metropolitan areas and cities to adopt a Transportation System Plan (TSP) which must include measurable goals to increase the modal share of pedestrian travel.
In 1994, Metro, the regional government of the Portland metropolitan area, adopted a 50-year regional growth and development concept that calls for "development of a true multimodal transportation ystem which serves land use patterns, densities and community designs that allow for and enhance transit, bike, pedestrian travel and freight movement."6 The Region 2040 growth concept would increase land use densities in urban centers and along major corridors, concentrating most new population and employment growth within the existing urban growth boundary. The Regional Framework Plan, adopted at the end of 1997, will implement the Region 2040 growth concept through a set of policies and actions.
Metro currently is developing a Regional Transportation Plan (RTP) that will serve as the federal long-range plan, the state-mandated TSP for the metropolitan region, and the transportation element of the Regional Framework Plan. This regional plan is expected to be completed and adopted by ordinance in December, 1998. The RTP will include a Pedestrian Element. Currently adopted regional policy for pedestrian transportation promotes walking as the preferred mode for short trips. Metro places priority on improving the pedestrian environment in those parts of the region with existing or planned dense mix of uses and very frequent transit service.
These initiatives will require the pedestrian transportation system to serve a greater share of the travel needs of this vital and growing region.
The City of Portland Transportation System Plan
Under the Transportation Planning Rule, the cities within the metropolitan region have one year following the adoption of the Metro plan to complete and adopt a local 20-year Transportation System Plan, which must be consistent with the Metro plan. The City of Portland, recognizing the magnitude of this task, has undertaken to develop the TSP concurrently with Metro's RTP.
Phase One of the TSP, which included changes to transportation policies and street classifications, was adopted by City Council in May, 1996. Phase Two, including recommended projects, is expected to be
completed by December, 1999.
The TSP will contain an element for each mode of travel, including a Pedestrian Element. The Pedestrian Master Plan represents the first step in developing the Pedestrian Element of the TSP.
The Pedestrian Master Plan
The purpose of the Pedestrian Master Plan is to establish a 20-year framework for improvements that will enhance the pedestrian environment and increase opportunities to choose walking as a mode of
The Pedestrian Master Plan is organized into five major elements: pedestrian policies, pedestrian street classifications, pedestrian design guidelines, a list of capital projects, and set of recommended funding
Chapter Two describes the City of Portland's adopted policies and street classifications relating to pedestrian travel. These two elements of the Pedestrian Master Plan were adopted by City Council by ordinance in May, 1996.
Chapter Three is a general discussion of the development of the design guidelines contained in the Portland Pedestrian Design Guide, a companion document issued by the City Engineer.
Chapter Four is a synopsis of the process by which the list of capital projects was developed, while Chapter Five describes the final list of projects.
Chapter Six explains the varied sources of funding for pedestrian projects and lays out a series of recommended funding strategies.
1Peter Calthorpe, The Next American Metropolis: Ecology, Community, and the American Dream, p. 17. Princeton Architectural Press, 1993.
2Marcus Wigan, "Measurement and Evaluation of Non-Motorised Transport", p. 4. Working Paper ITS-WP-94-15, Institute of Transport Studies, October 1994.
3"The Pedestrian Environment,"Volume 4A, p. 5. Making the Land Use Transportation Air Quality Connection, Parsons Brinckerhoff Quade and Douglas, Inc., with Cambridge Systematics, Inc. and Calthorpe Associates; December, 1993.
4Metro Household Activity Survey, 1994. (Excerpted from unpublished preliminary results. This modal share figure is for walk-only trips; it does not include walk-to-transit trips which are counted as part of the transit modal share.)
5Survey Results, Davis & Hibbits, Inc. August, 1994.
6Metro Resolution No. 94-2040-C, p. 2. December, 1994.
The entire text of the Pedestrian Master Plan (PDF document, 10,162kb) is available for download.
*PDF documents require the free Adobe Acrobat Reader .
Filed for inclusion in PPD December 3, 2003.
Resolution No. 35689 adopted by City Council April 22, 1998. Amended by Resolution No. 35699, adopted by City Council June 3, 1998.