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What is the Safe Streets Initiative?

Slow Streets Greenway map
The Portland Bureau of Transportation (PBOT) has started a new initiative called Safe Streets to respond to the Covid-19 public health crisis. PBOT will make temporary changes to city streets to give people more space to walk, bike, roll, do business, and get around in their neighborhood

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Why now?

PBOT supports the health and economic wellbeing of our community. Here is why we are looking at these changes now, in the middle of a public health crisis:

  • People still need to make essential trips and get to their jobs. This is true for frontline workers, people providing emergency services, and all other workers in critical industries. Pedestrians and people biking may find it hard to maintain physical distance on crowded sidewalks and streets.
  • Over a third of Portlanders live in places with little or no private outdoor space, such as apartments. This means no place to play or relax outdoors, which is vital for our physical and mental health.
  • Businesses need ways to make physical distancing easier. If these public health guidelines are still in place after the stay-at-home order is over, this will remain critical.
Slow Streets Why Now graphic

What guides us?

PBOT is listening to public health experts about how to stop the spread of coronavirus and help with economic recovery. PBOT will respond to changing conditions, but this is our guiding strategy:

  • Encourage people to stay home and save lives. PBOT will provide transportation services that Portlanders need for essential travel. As we do so, we will ensure that community members at higher risk for exposure have more options to get around safely.
  • Support physical distancing. On crowded sidewalks and streets, PBOT will create more space for physical distancing. This includes extra space for businesses to get deliveries and pickups, and for their customers to line up.
  • Prepare for economic recovery and reinvestment. PBOT wants to put resources toward the many diverse communities of Portland and businesses hardest hit by this pandemic. This will not only help our community now, but with ongoing recovery.
  • Lead with Portland values. With everything we do,PBOT will continue to uphold our city’s goals to promote equity and address the climate crisis.
Slow Streets What Guides Us

How will it work?

  • Quieter low-traffic streets. PBOT will turn sections of our low-traffic streets (known as “neighborhood greenways”) into “local access only.” This will help limit traffic to essential trips and deliveries. It will also make these streets more accessible for everyone, providing more space to get outside while staying close to home.
  • Safer busy streets. On busy streets with crowded sidewalks, PBOT will make changes to provide more space and make it easier for people to walk 6 feet apart.
  • Healthier business districts. PBOT will support our many business “main streets” by providing more space for pickups and deliveries, as well as places for customers to line up to pick up their purchases.
  • Encouraging cooperation. As always, PBOT will remind the community that our streets belong to everyone, whether you’re walking, biking, rolling, or driving.
  • Communication. These changes are being rolled out quickly in the middle of a crisis. We want to hear from you how these changes are impacting you, and how we might adapt our approach moving forward.
Slow Streets How Will it Work

Contact us

How is this program going? Are there places where you, your business, or your community need more space for activities? Call 503-823-7233 or email

Translated information about the Safe Streets Initiative

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View or download PBOT's full public review draft

PBOT's Safe Streets Initiative - Public Review Draft - May 2020 (PDF, 9.6 MB)