Planning and Transportation

We agree with the Oregonian’s Editorial Board: planning in Portland is a happy headache. However, we’d like set the record straight on several points made in the article, “People like their cars… “ published on Oct. 28th.

During the time between Metro’s two Travel Behavior Surveys, in 1994 and 2011, the Portland metropolitan population grew by 125,389 people. In that time, due largely to our coordinated land use and transportation planning, we made it easier for people to walk, bicycle, and take transit to meet their daily needs.

All the roads are still here, but the total number of automobiles registered over the last ten years remained relatively steady, and at times declined. What does that mean?

It means we can grow our population and prosperity while increasing our choices for how we get around yet simultaneously decrease automobile congestion. So although the Oregonian points an accusatory finger at Metro area planners for disregarding automobile travel, conditions have improved.

This is the promise of smart growth.

You don’t have to live in an apartment or ride bike to gain the benefit of compact urban development and active transportation. We can see this fact in Metro’s data. More people ride bikes and transit, the same number of people are walking, and fewer people are driving cars relative to the total number of people in our region.

The result is better travel conditions for everyone, regardless of how you choose to get around.

The best thing we can do as a community grappling with our “happy headache” is to plan for more transportation choices, compact urban growth, and prosperity.

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