Gordon Price on the Portland Plan

November 20, 2009

Last night former Vancouver, B.C. city councilor, and respected urbanist, Gordon Price spoke to the PBOT/PSU Traffic and Transportation class. I wasn’t able to attend (we had the second Portland Plan workshop last night) but BikePortland reported on the event:

Price said that a specific challenge of the Portland Plan (which is holding a series of public workshops through December) should be to determine how to reallocate the space left behind by auto-centric infrastructure in the wake of the diminishing use of cars. He also suggested that serious accommodation of cyclists should be a high priority and pointed out his concern that the Portland Plan’s focus on “20 minute neighborhoods” doesn’t quite ring true. “That’s too much time,” he said.

10 minute neighborhoods?



  1. I was surprised to find out that in this concept of “20 minute neighborhoods,” although often cited, is not spelled out anywhere in Metro’s Regional Transportation Plan. Is this concept explicit in the Portland Plan, Chris?

  2. Since the Portland Plan process is just beginning, I’m not going to predict the results, but certainly the idea of 20-minute neighborhoods is top-of-mind for a number of the policy makers.

    It’s being used in the background presentations for the workshops that are currently going on, and I suggested it for inclusion in the Portland Plan incorporation of the bicycle master plan (and my colleagues on Planning Commission agreed):

    Designate a set of current and future 20-minute neighborhood centers and designate a set of corridors interconnecting these neighborhood centers, Region 2040 Town and Regional Centers and the Central City. Corridors connecting these centers should be priorities for separated in-roadway bikeways and to the extent possible should be coordinated with the Streetcar System Concept plan to create continuous multi-modal mobility corridors between centers.

    The idea also shows up in the Streetcar System Concept Plan.

  3. I don’t think that 10-minute neighborhoods are going to free us from motordom, either, because people tend to travel by the shortest and most convenient mode. We should be focusing less on creating sprawl plus a row of retail and more on creating real density.

    In ten minutes I can walk from home to work, a distance of a little over half a mile. I walk or bike because (1) I like to walk or bike and (2) I don’t own a car. But a coworker who lives only a few blocks further than me will only walk (1) when she feels that she can take her time getting there and (2) when it isn’t raining. So for most of the year she either takes the streetcar or she drives. She’s a fair weather walker. A 10-minute neighborhood is certainly better than a 20-minute neighborhood, but it still doesn’t position walking and biking as the most convenient options. Real density does.

  4. i agree that 20 minutes is too long. i like the idea of 5- and 10-minute neighborhoods better.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: