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Streetcar_people_alphabet National Geographic recently described Portland as the City that “…gets almost everything right; it’s friendly, sustainable, accessible, and maybe a model for America’s future” (Cover story, Dec. 2009). Portland has a shared vision of a livable city, articulated in many different ways. It is seen in neighborhood self-help projects, big municipal investments, enlightened developers that build infill projects consistent with city plans, and the highest recycling participation rate in the country.  Taken together Portland is a city that is environmentally responsible, and conscious of both street level and of global impact of doing things right.

 


Early History

Arguably, Portland’s first act of ‘building green’ was in 1892, when it built a reservoir network to protect and preserve the sole source of its drinking water, the pristine . Today, this 102-square mile conservation zone provides ample fresh water to a region of half million people

Fast forward almost 100 years and the same ethic motivated Portlanders to reject a Robert Moses-style highway plan...

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DSC_0022 In the last of the livability seminar series, OTREC's visiting scholars program welcomed Shawn Turner from the Texas Transportation Institute. Shawn's research spans the gamut of intelligent transportation systems data to bicycle and pedestrian issues.  Most recently, Shawn participated in the International Scan on Pedestrian and Bicyclist Safety and Mobility.  His presentation compared his experiences on the scan in Europe to those in China.  During his presentation, he posed three challenges to Oregon:

  • How does active transportation contribute to economic development?
  • What is the tipping point for behavior and behavioral change?
  • Can vanity play a role in social acceptance?

His presentation was followed by a discussion with local agencies, faculty, students and partners along with a 10-mile tour of innovative bike infrastructure in Portland.  Thank goodness...

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