Oregon Walks for Open Data

(The following letter was submitted on behalf of Oregon Walks to the Portland Comprehensive Plan, in response to the Call to Action published by Hack Oregon and the Portland Independent Chamber of Commerce's advocacy for Open Data in the Portland Comprehensive Plan). 

 

 

As the state’s pedestrian advocacy organization, Oregon Walks works to make walking a safe, convenient, and accessible form of transportation in every community across the state. We support making communities more walkable through policy advocacy, community programming, and with the support of  numerous volunteers who serve on transportation project committees at the local, regional, and state level.

 

Oregon Walks has previously submitted comments on the Portland Comprehensive Plan update; providing input on the language that codifies our specific transportation investments with the intent to make walkable communities affordable and accessible to every Portlander, regardless of which neighborhood they call home.  However, we would like to submit a brief additional letter in support of the language recommended by Hack Oregon and the Portland Independent Chamber of Commerce requesting that the City of Portland’s Comprehensive Plan Update uphold the highest standard of making data accessible and available.

Like many of Portland’s great stories of advocacy, ours is a story of citizen volunteers organizing and providing community-led feedback to their government agencies to promote better, safer, more sustainable investments.  Oregon Walks (née the Willamette Pedestrian Coalition) was founded 25 years ago by everyday citizens that wanted to push the city, region and state governments to include more provisions for pedestrians and people walking. The ability for citizens to sit on committees, review statistics, provide feedback to government agencies and help shape their communities positively and equitably is central to “the Portland story” that makes the city vibrant and livable.

Oregon Walks’ Plans and Projects Committee convenes citizen advocates sitting on stakeholder advisory committees for a variety of projects; it’s difficult to overstate the importance of data collection and analysis towards this drive to eliminate traffic fatalities. Having information collected by the city through the Comprehensive Plan readily available for advocates who wish to present their own findings – on why a street’s speed limit should be lowered, why a crosswalk is needed near an East Portland elementary school, why to support a Neighborhood Greenway – will ensure that Oregon Walks, and everyone working to make Portland a better place to walk, will be armed with information to take to their Neighborhood Associations, local businesses, and elected officials to demand safer streets. Open data allows citizen advocates to present compelling stories demonstrating the relationship between traffic fatalities and busy streets without crosswalks.

 

By supporting Open Data, the Portland Comprehensive Plan will make it easier for citizens to get engaged with transportation making decisions and advocate for safer, walkable streets across the city. On behalf of the litany of citizen advocates past, present and future who have fervently worked with city planners and policymakers to better inform transportation decisions, we encourage the city to adopt PICOC’s and Hack Oregon’s recommendations to make data open and accessible. Please keep the open data proposal for Policy 2.11 intact.