Pedestrian Design Guide Update

Information
The City of Portland's Pedestrian Design Guide has been revised based on public comment and testimony and is now available below!

PBOT Director Chris Warner signed the Pedestrian Design Guide Administrative Rule on May 12th, 2022. The effective date is July 1, 2022.
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Updated Pedestrian Design Guide Now Available

The revised Pedestrian Design Guide is now available. Thanks to all the community members who took the time to review the draft and for providing us with your feedback. We received many thoughtful comments, and we thank you for helping us develop the best outcomes we can for the city we all care so deeply about.

Click here for a summary of the key changes made to the public review draft in response to public comment. (Please know that the revisions outlined are not an exhaustive list.) Click here to changes made in response to public testimony at the Administrative Rule hearing in April. 

How the Pedestrian Design Guide Provides More Space for Street Trees

One of the project team’s key objectives with the update to the Pedestrian Design Guide was to maximize opportunities for larger canopy trees in Portland’s rights-of-way. Large-form trees are critical urban infrastructure, and especially critical as we collectively confront hotter summers and a changing climate.

However, the project had to wrestle with an array of legal and space constraints that do not always provide us with an opportunity to provide the wide furnishing zones we would all love to see in Portland.  To help provide opportunities for larger trees in the sidewalk corridor, the project team worked hard to develop several new, creative tools in the updated Pedestrian Design Guide, described in the graphic below. We feel confident that the new tools in the updated Pedestrian Design Guide dramatically increase soil volumes and planting opportunities over the current Pedestrian Design Guide.

In addition to the creative strategies included in the new Pedestrian Design Guide, we know there are additional tools available to the City to help us maximize soil volumes for larger trees. For example, sub-grade structural soils and soil vaults are fantastic tools for increasing soil volumes and facilitating the planting of larger canopy trees. While sub-grade planting specifications and planting requirements are not within the purview of the Pedestrian Design Guide, project staff is proactively coordinating with Urban Forestry on future updates to their sub-grade planting requirements.

This graphic shows the new tools allowed in the Pedestrian Design Guide that make room for larger street trees.

Adoption Process/Schedule

The Pedestrian Design Guide has been adopted via PBOT administrative rule on May 12, 2022. The effective date of the Pedestrian Design Guide is July 1, 2022. Adopting the Pedestrian Design Guide by administrative rule makes for a more dynamic set of guidelines that can be reviewed and updated over time to account for changing contexts, legal guidance, and best practices.

The suite of adopting administrative rules is now available at https://www.portland.gov/transportation/permitting/updates-ped-design-guide-admin-rules

The recorded oral testimony from the April 4, 2022 public hearing is available here.

Background

The Pedestrian Design Guide serves as the City’s primary guidance on how sidewalks should be built throughout Portland to ensure they are context-appropriate and accessible to people of all ages and abilities. The Guide was last updated in 1998, at which time it was considered one of the most forward-thinking pedestrian guidance documents in the country. Since then, the document has remained useful but additional policies and plans have been adopted by the City and within the region that an updated document should reflect and/or address.

Related Documents

Project Documents

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Background Documents

PedPDX – Portland’s Pedestrian Master Plan

1998 Pedestrian Design Guide