PBOT’s Slow Streets program moves ahead with permanent installations in response to positive community support

Press Release
A new concrete planter with 15 mph advisory speed signs at SE 12th Avenue and Salmon Street helps calm traffic on the popular neighborhood greenway. Photo by Scott Cohen, Portland Bureau of Transportation.
The familiar green signs and orange temporary traffic barrels are evolving to concrete planters and shared street signage to better maintain calm streets and slow traffic on many of Portland’s neighborhood greenways

(July 29, 2021) The Portland Bureau of Transportation’s Slow Streets program is growing up. Following the overwhelmingly positive public response to the program, the bureau is now transitioning locations around the city from temporary traffic barrels and signage to more permanent infrastructure to alert drivers and other travelers that they are entering a neighborhood greenway and should expect to share the space with people biking, walking, rolling and strolling.

This past weekend PBOT maintenance crews replaced the traffic barrels and slow street signage on SE Salmon Street at SE 11th, 12th, 20th, and 30th avenues, on SE Ankeny Street at 24th Avenue, SE Umatilla Street at 13th Avenue and SE 16th Avenue at Morrison, Belmont and Stark streets with concrete planters. The planters include yellow advisory 15 mph speed signs placed in the concrete planters as well as shared street advisory signs. The infrastructure will help calm and slow traffic, especially as drivers turn onto neighborhood streets.

Planters Show the Way: Slow Streets for Everyone shows how concrete planters with 15 mph advisory speed signs help calm and slow traffic on neighborhood greenways

PBOT’s Slow Streets program is a component of the Safe Streets Initiative, the bureau’s response to the Covid-19 pandemic. In May of 2020, PBOT converted 100 miles of low-traffic streets and neighborhood greenways into Slow Streets to restrict cut-through traffic and create space for Portlanders to walk, bike, roll, and stroll safely during the public health crisis.

PBOT received over 2,000 public comments on the Slow Streets program with strong support for the installations and their impacts on local streets. Portlanders across the city discovered or rediscovered the joy of walking, biking, and rolling during the pandemic and continue to utilize neighborhood greenways all over the city for exercise, fun, travel, and commuting as the city moves towards recovery. These enhancements will help ensure that these streets continue to be used as shared streets that prioritize climate-friendly travel options by keeping speeds and car traffic volumes low. Here’s a selection of comments received from Portlanders around the city about the Slow Streets program:

Hi, thanks so much for setting this safe street up for the neighborhood. Traffic speed has slowed considerably! Pedestrians and bicyclists have increased in frequency. I and my kids feel safer on the street. I would love if Portland would consider making this a permanent change!

Hi, I just wanted to say thank you for the slow, safe streets! I walk up and down Lincoln and Clinton, and it is so nice now! For the first time I bought bikes for myself and my two children, and we have been biking around southeast, it is so fun! I hope these changes are permanent.

Just wanted to say Thank You! I have two 15 year olds that love to ride their bikes- especially to and around Hancock Park. Adjusting the street to accommodate local traffic only makes it much safer as we seem to get a good amount of traffic cutting from 82nd to 92nd and then up to Halsey. Lots of families are out walking and riding- it’s great!

In total, PBOT will install concrete structures and signage at approximately 80 locations (view them on the Slow Streets interactive map) for the initial rollout. The installations will be staggered throughout the summer and fall. People should expect these installations to remain in place long-term. PBOT will collect data to gauge neighborhood impacts and work with community members on updates and changes. Future updates could include using more permanent materials, like poured concrete, moving the planters, or removing them. Each location will be addressed on a case-by-case basis.

“Slow Streets have been a cornerstone of PBOT’s Covid-19 response since the beginning of the pandemic,” said Transportation Commissioner Jo Ann Hardesty. “I am pleased that we are continuing to invest in the programs that have been proven effective over the last year and a half. We’re listening to the feedback we’ve received from the community and we will continue to work for safer, more climate-friendly ways to move about our beautiful city.”

“I encourage everyone to get outside and enjoy the variety of opportunities PBOT’s Safe Streets Initiative has to offer,” said Transportation Director Chris Warner. “Whether you are dining outdoors at one of PBOT’s permitted Healthy Businesses, playing in one of our numerous public plazas, or traveling along a Slow Street, we hope this initiative has and continues to serve and benefit Portlanders.”

Learn more about PBOT’s Slow Streets program at https://www.portland.gov/transportation/safestreetspdx/what-slow-streets-program.