Policy, Advocacy and Expanding the Network

By giving public testimony or participating on committees, WPC members have ensured that a wide variety of projects and regulations would benefit pedestrians. In 1995, WPC lobbied to save the pedestrian program when it was reorganized as part of the Office of Transportation Options.

"The WPC Board was the most civically active board I've ever come across," says Nancy Christie.   

The democratic process has not been without its indignities. "Once Vera Katz called me a transportation groupie because I testified so much," recalls Kathy Sharp, a board member in the early 1990s who helped WPC get its 501 (c) (3) status. "In this line of work, you have to have a lot of energy for a little bit of progress."   

WPC's influence spread after Vanderslice went to work for the city's pedestrian program in 1994. She was the principal author of nationally recognized Portland Pedestrian Guidelines, which were adopted by the city in 1998. The guidelines provide parameters for design as well as detailed drawings and descriptions of pedestrian improvements in a number of different situations. In 1996, Vanderslice also founded AmericaWalks, a national coalition of over 30 pedestrian advocacy groups.  She chaired the host committee for the 4th annual International Walking Conference, held in Portland May 1-3, 2003.

"It was ironic that I initially told Doug I didn't have the time, then it became my entire life to become a pedestrian advocate," says Vanderslice. "WPC played a big role in shaping that."

In January 1995, the WPC launched PedNet, an e-mail listserve for discussion of pedestrian issues. PedNet has since grown to be an international list, managed by Ottawa Walks, Ontario's pedestrian group.