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What is the Slow Streets Program?

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How will PBOT's Slow Streets program work? Read our frequently asked questions and our guidelines for using the Portland's Neighborhood Greenways.
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What is the Slow Streets program?

The Portland Bureau of Transportation's (PBOT) 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 “local access only” Slow Streets to restrict cut-through traffic and create space for Portlanders to walk, bike, roll, and stroll safely during the public health crisis.

The response to the program has been overwhelmingly positive. PBOT has received over 2,000 public comments on the Slow Streets program with a large majority supporting the installations and their impacts on local streets. We are now moving from pandemic response to recovery and transitioning some Slow Street installations to include more permanent traffic control devices.

Are streets being closed? 

No. PBOT temporarily converted 100 miles of already low-traffic streets into “local access only” to restrict cut-through traffic. As we transition from pandemic response to recovery, PBOT is continuing to keep traffic low and speeds slow on these streets. Here is a map of where existing and future Slow Street installations are located. 

What's happening now to Slow Streets?

Because of the positive response to the program, PBOT is constructing more permanent installations at some Slow Street locations. You can view a map of existing and future locations here.

Can I still drive to my house or business? Can I still get deliveries and visitors? What about emergency vehicles? 

Absolutely! These are not hard closures. Anyone needing to drive in or out of your street, including emergency vehicles, will still be able to do so. Slow Streets installations are limiting these streets to people with an intended destination there. 

What will these signs and changes look like? 

Depending on how wide the street is, PBOT will place things like concrete planters, orange barrels or other traffic control devices in the road. All of these will have clear signs to alert people driving of the current restrictions. 

Here is an image of a more permanent Slow Street installation.

Image shows what Slow Streets concrete planters will look like and how they will operate.
Planned Slow Streets concrete planters will slow people driving onto neighborhood greenways and other priority pedestrian and bicycle streets.

How are the locations planned?

  • Slow Street locations must be on a neighborhood greenway .
  • In addition, Slow Street locations must meet at least one of these criteria:
    • Streets lacking sidewalks.
    • More than 1/4 of a mile from parks or open space.
    • Adjacent to multifamily housing.
    • Streets with higher traffic volumes or speeds that make it challenging to walk, bike, or roll.
    • Streets with demonstrated support from public health and Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) focused community organizations.

Will PBOT consider adding more Slow Street locations? 

Please review the location requirements above. If you think you have a street that meets those criteria, please call 503-823-5345 or email scott.cohen@portlandoregon.gov to make a suggestion. 

Can I help or volunteer? 

Yes. Our partner Axiom Event Productions, who helps run Portland Sunday Parkways, is leading a volunterr program. Volunteers play a big part in making and keeping Slow Streets great places for the community. Contact our volunteer program manager directly to let them know you’re interested.

How do we use Portland's Neighborhood Greenways during and after Covid-19?

Our Neighborhood Greenway network of low-traffic streets gives Portlanders many ways to improve their mental and physical health during and after this public health crisis. However, please understand it takes all of our cooperation to make this program successful. Let’s work together to slow the spread of coronavirus and to slow down while using the streets. 

  • Remember that these are shared streets and sidewalks. Take it slow and be respectful of others.
  • If you're passing through the neighborhood, please do not drive on the neighborhood greenway or Slow Street.
  • Cover your cough with a tissue (then throw it away), or the inside of your elbow.
  • Announce your presence to others if you are passing them and move aside, when needed, to let others pass.
  • Follow CDC guidelines and wash your hands before and after you visit a Neighborhood Greenway, or any other public space.

How do I report a damaged barrel or sign?

Please email our contractors at hello@pdxgreenways.com or text your request to 503-395-4509. Include the cross streets or the location number (on a sticker on the equipment).


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