Better Block PSU: a Partnership Program

Better Block PSU is a partnership program between the public spaces advocacy nonprofit Better Block PDX and Portland State University (PSU). Partnering since 2015, we have developed implementation plans and designs for many community-driven transportation projects. These pop-up projects promote equitable placemaking, community building, and active transportation advocacy.

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The Transportation Research and Education Center (TREC) at PSU has adopted this program under our umbrella of transportation initiatives, and it is integrated into PSU planning and engineering classes.

How does a pop-up project go from idea to reality?

  • Community groups and organizations submit their project proposal online. We typically announce a request for proposals (RFP) in the spring of the year. Sign up to be notified when the next RFP is announced.
  • TREC and Better Block PDX review all proposals and select the projects. Priority is given to BIPOC, LGBTQI, disability advocacy, and women-led organizations. 
  • Two to four selected projects from each RFP will be handed off to planning and communication students, who will develop outreach and engagement plans for the next term. 
  • Depending on capacity and need, one to two of those projects will then go through an engineering phase - usually in the winter term - to produce a traffic plan for the following summer. The recipient organization(s) gather community support and funding to implement these plans. Please note that Better Block PSU is unable to provide funding for these projects – we are able to provide support, guidance, and student plans. 
  • Download our full RFP document and the Better Block PDX Guide to Pop-Up Projects here.

 Questions about the program? Email treceducation@pdx.edu.

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Who is Better Block PDX?

Better Block PDX is a volunteer-led effort encouraging everyone to imagine what spaces could be when they are designed for people. We partner with community organizations, Portland State University, Portland Bureau of Transportation, and you to create inviting and interactive places through tactical urbanism “pop-up” projects.

"Most close watchers of the Portland transportation world have heard of Better Block PDX," BikePortland founder Jonathan Maus wrote in a February 28, 2019 article. Better Block PDX won the "Spirit of Portland" award in 2017. Read more about Better Block PDX.

What is Better Block PSU?

Through the Transportation Research and Education Center (TREC) at PSU, Portland State University connects planning and engineering student expertise with community advocates through our partnership program, Better Block PSU. This exchange of knowledge is also an opportunity for students to tackle a real transportation and/or placemaking challenge in the local community. In May 2019, Better Block PDX celebrated TREC officially adopting the PSU Project Pathway.The Pathway program provides a practicum experience for PSU students, increases capacity for community organizations, and has been successful at influencing policy and leading to permanent changes in Portland’s streetscape — most notably the Better Naito project. A total of fifteen projects have been shepherded through the Pathway since 2015, including four that will be built in the first phase of the City of Portland’s Central City in Motion plan that kicked off in Summer 2019.

The Transportation Research and Education Center (TREC) at Portland State University is home to the National Institute for Transportation and Communities (NITC), the Initiative for Bicycle and Pedestrian Innovation (IBPI), and other transportation programs. TREC produces research and tools for transportation decision makers, develops K-12 curriculum to expand the diversity and capacity of the workforce, and engages students and professionals through education.