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The Portland Bureau of Transportation launches the Safe Streets|Healthy Businesses program to help local businesses operate safely as Portland gradually reopens 

Press release

Program makes it simple for businesses to apply to use space on sidewalks and streets to make physical distancing easier for customers and staff Bureau also releases strategic framework for adapting streets as city restarts public life.

Published
​   Safe Streets Healthy Businesses

(Thursday, May 28) Today, the Portland Bureau of Transportation launched Safe Streets|Healthy Businesses, the next phase in its efforts to support the safe restart to public life in Portland. The program provides a one-stop permit application process for businesses that would like to use space on city sidewalks or streets to operate while preserving physical distancing for customers and staff. The applications and permits are free.  

Curb Zone Uses
Curb Zone Uses

"Cities around the world are reallocating streets for people to support safe social distancing," said Transportation Commissioner Chloe Eudaly. "Portland started with 100 miles of slow streets on our Neighborhood Greenways, closing them to through traffic to create more space for pedestrians and cyclists. Our next phase is working with our local business community to support their reopening and reimagine public space." 

Mini Neighborhood Plaza
Mini neighborhood plaza: use of parking spaces with side street partially closed for part of a block.

Through the program, businesses can apply to designate space on sidewalks and the street for commercial uses such as dining, retail, portable hygiene stations, and merchandise displays. In areas where the demand for space is high, the program will allow entire streets to be closed to create temporary plazas. On busy commercial corridors, the bureau encourages businesses to work together to coordinate their requests for space. 

“Normally, at this time of year, we would be getting ready to issue permits for street fairs, farmers markets and block parties,” said PBOT Director Chris Warner. “Instead, we’re adapting to find creative ways to adapt our streets and help Portland safely get moving again. That is what Safe Streets|Healthy Businesses and our strategic framework are all about.” 

Full Main Street Closure
Full main street closure: PBOT will not allow full street closures on emergency routes or transit routes.
Neighborhood Plaza
Neighborhood Plaza: use of parking spaces with side street partially closed for part of the block.

Participating business will be responsible for obtaining and maintaining the equipment to designate their temporary commercial spaces. In evaluating applications, the bureau will balance the needs of businesses with traffic safety, pedestrian access, public transit, and emergency response needs. The program will also follow the guidance from the Governor’s Office and public health officials regarding the timing and extent of reopening. Permits will be valid through October 1, 2020. Applications will be evaluated on a case-by-case basis. Along with more information about the program, applications can be found here

The program is part of PBOT’s Safe Streets Initiative. Through this initiative, PBOT is making temporary changes to city streets to give people more space to walk, bike, roll, do business, and get around in their neighborhood.  

Along with the Healthy Businesses program, the bureau also released the initiative’s strategic framework. A comprehensive plan, It details the full range of steps the bureau plans to take in the coming months to adapt city streets to facilitate a safe, healthy and robust reopening in Portland. The plan can be found here. In the coming days, Portlanders are invited to provide feedback via a survey and digital open houses.  

To support these efforts, PBOT's Equity and Inclusion program has established the COVID-19 Frontline Communities Partnership. This partnership opportunity will provide funding to groups interested in shaping Safe Streets priorities and engaging their networks on transportation issues specific to the COVID-19 public health pandemic. Interested organizations can learn about how to apply here.

The Portland Bureau of Transportation (PBOT) is the steward of the city’s transportation system, and a community partner in shaping a livable city. We plan, build, manage and maintain an effective and safe transportation system that provides access and mobility. www.portlandoregon.gov/transportation