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The City of Portland, Oregon

Portland Bureau of Transportation

Phone: 503-823-5185

Fax: 503-823-7576

1120 SW Fifth Ave, Suite 1331, Portland, OR 97204

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Dylan Rivera

Public Information Officer


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For breaking news on overall service disruptions in the Portland-Vancouver metro area, go to @publicalerts or see 

Spring renewal

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We've advocated before for slow commuting, but amidst the rain and gust, it seems worth noting that when traveling by foot, the coming spring is evident.

As I try to do once a week to clear my head, this morning I left my bike in the basement and took the 30 minute walk from home to the MAX. I was greeted by my botanic savior, the early blooming daphne. You often smell the daphne before you see them, and their fragrance this morning reassured me that this punchy winter is on its last legs.

When we slow down we are more likely to appreciate subtleties in our neighborhood - and even in a our seemingly interminable winter.

Integrating a walking into your commute is a great way to get some exercise while enjoying your neighborhood or city. In the next week, we should see blooms on our native Red Flowering Currant and Indian Plum. And before we know, we'll see the sprouts of lettuce and collards in our neighobors' gardens.

Image courtesy of Stranges Garden Center



Health and equity: What's the problem?

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Transportation and Health Equity Series, Part 2

America is a world leader in medical research and medical care.  Even here in Portland, our medical prowess is visible.  Doctors and scientists at Oregon Health and Science Institute are making amazing discoveries every day and continually wow me with their brain power.

So with this knowledge, why are the following true?

  • America is not even in the top ten countries in the world for life expectancy.  We’re number 29 behind countries like Bosnia and Jordan.  Fifty years ago, we were in the top five.  Ugh.
  • The current generation of children in America are predicted to have shorter life expectancies than their parents.  This hasn’t happened in over 200 years.

So seriously, what’s going on?  Much of the dreariness of the above points can be attributed to the high rates of obesity that are occurring in today’s society.  And to bring you down further with obesity statistics…

  • One in three children is overweight or obese.
  • In 2009, only one state (Colorado) was at the obesity level as the most overweight states in 2000.  Visually, the color change between the maps is alarming.

Obesity map produced by the Centers for Disease Control


Okay, so we get it.  We’re obese and it's getting worse.  Obesity leads to heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure, and on and on.  It’s killing us and our children.

But on top of this trend there’s HEALTH EQUITY, which will be defined in the next entry.  I apologize for the ‘downer’ nature of this entry and will woo you with the promise that there is a hopeful end to this series of write-ups.  Just stick with me. 

This entry is part of our Transportation and Health Equity series by guest author Sara Schooley.


Read the other posts in the series: 

Part I: Introduction

Part III: Obesity, Race and Equity

Part IV: What makes health?

Part V: Can transportation make you live longer

Part VI: Your Neighborhood and Your Health

Part VII: Opportunities to Impact Health Equity

Maplewood Walks!

Maplewood K-5's "Walking School Bus" program continues to grow.

Maplewood K-5 School in SW Portland has established an impressive “Walking School Bus” program.  

With 4 (soon to be 5) different walking routes to school every Thursday, an average of 35 students are arriving to school by foot on those days, and on celebration days participation tops 100 students.  

Despite being located in hilly SW Portland with very few sidewalks to school, Maplewood families have successfully developed an active commute culture, experiencing increased safety and visibility in numbers. Congratulations, Maplewood! 

Click here to view the above slides as a PDF.


TriMet's rail trips increase, bus trips drop

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TriMet recently instituted a handy performance dashboard for the public to quickly assess how the state's largest transit agency is doing.

According to TriMet's January performance report, bus trips dropped 4.4% over the previous year. MAX trips increased by 4.7%. WES - the nation's only suburb to suburb heavy rail line, saw ridership increased by 12.2% to 1380 daily boardings. 

According to TriMet, the decline in bus ridership is due in part to the continuing weak economy, the 7.3% reduction in service levels, and the sunseting of fareless square. 



Obesity, Race and Equity

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Part III in our series of Transportation, Health and Equity.

Transportation and Health Equity Series, Part III

In this third installment, guest author Sara Schooley finishes laying the groundwork for understanding our nation's public health problems in relation to equity.

So we’ve established that the United States is in a bit of a kerfuffle when it comes to obesity. But the kerfuffle gets kerfuffle-ier.  There are huge differences in obesity rates between races.  Check out the maps below to see what I’m talking about.

For starters, look at Oregon.  For white Oregonians, 20-24% are categorized as obese (see side note) the CDC categorizes obese as a Body Mass Index >30.  So for example, I am 5’8” and to get a BMI ≥30, I would have to weigh 196lbs.  (You can calculate your own BMI here).  For Black, non-Hispanic Oregonians, over 35% are obese.  And looking at the differences in the maps, Oregon is not alone on this one.

Here’s where health equity comes in.  Health Equity has been defined as “…differences in health that are not only unnecessary and avoidable, but in addition unfair and unjust (Whitehead, 1992).”

So to bring it back to the maps, if you are born white in Oregon, you have a 20-25% chance of being obese and suffering from related health issues.  If you are born Black, you have over a 35% chance.  That seems definitely unnecessary, probably avoidable, and 100% unfair and unjust.

Let’s take a step back with the reasons for obesity.  If you’ve read any magazines/newspapers or watched any television you have probably heard the following mantra – a smart diet and exercise reduce your chances of obesity.  Simple enough and few people would say that a sensible diet and exercise is a bad idea.  I’m sure that most folks that are obese or overweight know this.  So then what’s the issue and why are there discrepancies between races?

We’ll get to the answer to this question in the next post. Until then, if you’d like to test your existing health equity statistics knowledge, maybe learn some shocking facts, and get some physical activity via finger clicking (pathetic, I know) take this little quiz on health equity.   

Next: What does transportation have to do with health equity?

Read the other parts of the series:

Transportation and Health Equity Part 1

Part II: Heath and Equity: What's the problem? 

Part IV: What makes us healthy?

Part V: Can transportation make you live longer?

Part VI: Your Neighborhood and Your Health

Part VII: Opportunities to Impact Health Equity