Table of Contents:   


Alternative Transportation


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Many Portlanders believe our future lies in alternative transportation.

Section Summary

Most Portlanders who comment on alternative modes of transportation, such as walking and cycling, are very supportive of these modes. They value alternative transportation for its role in protecting the environment, helping to build cohesive communities with a strong sense of place and reducing traffic by keeping cars off the roads. In general, people would like it to be easier and safer to walk, cycle and skate. They advocate for expanded walking trails and bridges, bicycle and pedestrian-only areas and creating measures to enhance safety for cyclists and pedestrians. A surprisingly large number of people want to see a clean Willamette River utilized as a transportation resource for water taxis, kayaks and other forms of public and private transit. The overriding opinion expressed in this section is that alternative modes are the way of the future and as such, should be supported and encouraged by the City.

Note: This section contains primarily one point of view in support of alternative transportation, even though other sections make it clear that not all Portlanders share this view. The sections on Traffic, Parking and Public Transportation show that many Portlanders would prefer for resources to be used for expanding roads, increasing parking and taking other measures to facilitate automobile travel, even if this comes at the expense of alternative modes.

Summary of Main Ideas

  1. Portlanders support the City’s public commitment to alternative forms of transportation.
  2. The City should promote forms of transportation (public and private) that do not use fossil fuels.
  3. It should be easier and safer to walk and bike around the city.
  4. The Willamette River can be better utilized for alternative transportation.


  1. Portlanders support the City’s public commitment to alternative forms of transportation.
  • Many respondents in this section value the diverse modes of alternative transportation currently available to them in Portland, such as Flexcar, TriMet, bikes, walking, running, skating and even kayaking.
  • Respondents want to see these forms of transportation expanded and imagine alternative transportation modes becoming the primary modes of the future.
“With light-rail and mass transit connecting all major parts of the city, more people would walk, bike, or take mass transit than drive. Full connective bike lanes, public spaces, and community meeting spots would turn Portland into the most pedestrian and bike friendly city in the nation.”

“[In 2030] 50 % of the population commutes by bike, foot, or public transportation. Neighborhood shopping, health services, and social services allow people to avoid taking their car… and allow neighbors to run into each other while supporting local businesses.”

Sample Strategies:

  1. “Make a city-wide declaration of an alternative transportation week. Challenge people to not use their car and maybe even have them keep a week journal listing the problems and conveniences they experienced.”
  2. Create public awareness campaigns to bring attention to alternative transportation and make it even more attractive to use.
  3. “I’d like business owners to offer discounts to customers that ride their bike/mass transit to our businesses. I already offer my clients 20% off their service when they ride a bicycle, bus, skateboard, whatever. I’ve received a great response and increased bookings as a result of this simple encouragement to stop over-consumption/dependence on gasoline.”

  1. The City should promote forms of transportation (public and private) that do not use fossil fuels.
  • Cutting use of fossil fuels is good for the environment, the economy and helps Portland become more self-reliant.
  • All public school busses should run on bio-diesel.
  • City buses should use bio-fuel or at least cleaner diesel.
  • The City should look for ways to subsidize or in some way support electric or bio-fuel flex cars.
“[In 2030] …only electric and hydrogen powered vehicles are allowed in the city.”

"[In 2030] everyone gets around town with a combination of human powered bicycles, electric people movers, and the occasional non-petro-fuel private vehicle.”

The section Environment: Energy has more on reducing fossil fuel use.

Sample Strategies:

  1. “Tax breaks for people who commute by bike, those who utilized renewable resources for power and fuel.”
  2. “Closing certain streets during fairs or on weekend to encourage riding bikes/walking perhaps with more bus/MAX services.”
  3. Increase the number of mounted police and horse patrols.

  1. It should be easier and safer to walk and bike around the City.
  • Many respondents in this section imagine bicycling and walking as the modes of choice in the future.
  • However, for more people to choose to walk and bike around town, it must be safer, more pleasant and more convenient.
  • People think convenience and safety can be increased by improving street and path lighting in many parts of town, separating motorized and non-motorized vehicles and enforcing traffic laws for drivers as well as cyclists.
  • Some people specifically mention downtown streets as uncomfortable or unsafe because of drug dealers as well as “aggressive panhandlers” and "street kids" (see Public Safety: General).
“[In 2030] bicycling, walking, and mass transit use has increased, while motor vehicle traffic has declined.”

“[In 2030] the core 20 blocks of downtown are car/truck free from 8am to 5pm, pedestrians/bikes/public transportation only.”

Sample Strategies:

  1. More continuous bike/walking routes from suburbs/neighborhoods into downtown core. “Currently, there are still gaps with dangerous interactions between cars and bikes on many routes to the downtown core.”
  2. Involve cyclists and pedestrians in the panning process.
  3. “Invest in neighborhood business districts to create a more pedestrian and transit-oriented Portland.”
  4. Create dedicated bike lanes that are not located in between moving and parked cars.
  5. Create a car-free zone downtown that would be transformed into a bike and pedestrian-only area. This would make it safer, more peaceful and more appealing to walk and bike downtown.
  6. Reduce speed limits, especially through neighborhood streets.

  1. The Willamette can be better utilized for alternative transportation.
  • Quite a few people mention using the river for alternative transportation, including:
    • Water taxis;
    • River ferries; and
    • Sea busses like they have in Vancouver B.C. These are “small passenger ferries which connect the separated parts of the city across the various water bodies and are well integrated into their other forms of transit."

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