Portland plan closes streets to boost social distancing
Portland will alter dozens of local streets to boost physical distancing as the city tries to reopen.
Commissioner Chloe Eudaly, who is in charge of the Bureau of Transportation, said Tuesday, April 28, the city would begin its Slow Streets/Safe Streets initiative to give people more space. The initiative is based on weeks of bureau analysis and community outreach, Eudaly said. It maps how the bureau will reconfigure streets — including closing some to most car traffic — to support physical distancing, address increased movement and support the city's reopening process.
"Right now, the best thing Portlanders can do for the health of our community is to continue to stay home to save lives," Eudaly said. "PBOT is carefully considering how transportation behavior has changed and how it needs to change, not just as we recover from this crisis, but to support a sustainable future. Our Slow Streets/Safe Streets Initiative will provide the space Portlanders need to move around our city safely, and improve how we share our right of way."
Bureau officials plan a series of steps and measured improvements for neighborhood greenways, busy streets and business districts. The bureau's first efforts will focus on areas with the most pressing safety needs.
"When we reach the point that we can re-open, we want to make sure our transportation system is ready," said Bureau Director Chris Warner. "Portlanders have made great use of their neighborhood streets to walk, bike, and roll during the pandemic. We've designed the Slow Streets/Safe Streets initiative to make sure they can continue to do this safely as we get back closer to normal."
The Bureau of Transportation's planned steps include:
• Neighborhood Greenways (quiet residential streets): The 100 miles of greenways throughout Portland are designed to improve safety and comfort for people walking and biking. These streets have provided a safe space for Portlanders to walk, bike, and roll while maintaining physical distancing. One of the first steps will be to install temporary barricades, to either close certain streets to all but local traffic or slow traffic where a full closure is not feasible.
• Busy Streets: Expand pedestrian space along streets that are narrow or missing sidewalks to improve safety. Provide more room for physical distancing at intersections with high foot traffic. Install pop-up walking and biking lanes to encourage local trips on foot or by bike.
• Business districts: reserve space so customers can line up while maintaining appropriate physical distancing; create dedicated loading zones for pickup and delivery.
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