From the west hills to the eastern border of the City of Portland we have gaps in our sidewalk system, dangerous crosswalks along major arterials and inaccessible transit stations making travel difficult and dangerous for a large portion of our population. Older adults and people with disabilities using canes, walkers or mobility devices require safe sidewalks, ADA access ramps and well-timed and maintained crosswalks to access the services provided by retail, medical and entertainment establishments in the City.
In the tri-county area, between 2010 and 2030, Metro projects a growth of 106% in the number of those aged 65 and older compared to an increase of 34.6% in the region’s population overall. Both the City and Multnomah County have adopted the Age Friendly Action Plan focusing on future development and activities that foster physical, social, and service environments that make Portland and the County attractive and accessible to all ages and abilities. An important recommendation of this plan is to “dedicate appropriate funding to create an accessible and integrated transportation system that meets the needs of a rapidly aging population”.
Since May of 2014, two city work groups and an advisory committee, formed by the Mayor and Commissioner Novick, have worked with Portland Bureau of Transportation staff and City Council to revise the proposed Transportation User Fee. Some workgroup members have strongly advocated for the majority of funds generated by such a fee or tax to be used from “curb to curb” for maintenance of pavement. Only 25% of the funds, they suggest, should be allocated to safety improvements. It is important to note that while this allocation scheme benefits automobiles it does not address the needs of pedestrians and alternately-abled individuals in the City.
All parties involved in the revision of the proposed Transportation Fee agree that any new transportation funding should allocate revenue to both maintenance and safety improvements to our city’s transportation system. City Council will ultimately decide how best to proportion the dedication of these funds. It is our hope that the final distribution scheme weighs equally the needs of those travelling by foot or using mobility devices with those travelling by car. We strongly encourage Council to establish a 50-50 funding distribution between maintenance and safety projects as part of any new transportation funding scheme.
Elders in Action