Plans afoot to make Portland more friendly to walkers and bicyclists

On Thursday, the city is hosting a forum to present highlights of a Pedestrian & Bicycle Chapter to its comprehensive plan, which is under development.

Here’s a description of the chapter as included in a City Hall announcement of the Thursday night forum:

The chapter will propose a vision for biking and walking in Portland along with goals, objectives, strategies, and performance measures to promote, improve and increase bicycle and pedestrian transportation.

Work has been underway on the chapter for quite some time, and was discussed heartily earlier this year at a Transportation, Sustainability and Energy Committee meeting I attended last month. The forum on Thursday is the public’s next chance to weigh in before the chapter’s review and eventual adoption by the appropriate city council subcommittees, the planning board and the larger council.

Here’s more information on the chapter highlights, again as provided by the city:

The Plan includes written polices and mapped routes to help inform future infrastructure and transportation decision-making. Several proposed new ideas for Portland in the Plan include:

  • More than 20 miles of ‘Neighborhood Byways ‘ that designate and promote a network of local, residential streets to connect neighborhoods, schools, parks and businesses (a pilot Byway is being implemented now in the Deering Center neighborhood)
  • Performance Measures that establish numerical targets to track implementation of the Plan
  • ‘Quality of Service’ indicators for bicycling and walking to allow similar analysis to that done for motor vehicles (the A to F Level of Service measurements).

The Plan is being developed by key staff within the Department of Public Services, Planning Division, and Healthy Portland as well as bicycle, pedestrian and transportation advocates. The Plan builds upon the 2009 Portland Peninsula Transit Study, the 2010 Bicycle Forum, Maine DOT’s Safe Routes to School Program, the 2011 “TDM2Go” website, and other efforts to increase physical activity, expand transportation choices, and reduce automobile dependence.

The city of Portland through Healthy Portland, a local Healthy Maine Partnership and program of the City of Portland’s Health and Human Services Department, initiated this effort through Healthy Portland’s Communities Putting Prevention to Work obesity prevention grant.  Two years ago, the city was awarded a $1.8 million CPPW obesity prevention grant from the federal government, which has supported a number of citywide programs designed to make it easier for residents to live healthy and active lives.

The forum gets underway at 6:30 p.m. at Merrill Rehearsal Hall in City Hall.

Seth Koenig

About Seth Koenig

Seth has nearly a decade of professional journalism experience and writes about the greater Portland region.