Car-free in FoPo

As we continue our discussion on the qualities that make Foster-Powell great, we’d like to expand on our “walkability” theme.  In an article a couple months ago, we mentioned that Foster-Powell ranks in the top third of Portland neighborhoods when measured for walkability.  That metric was defined by residents’ general proximity to such amenities as transportation and shopping options.  And although FoPo might not immediately stand out as the ideal 20-minute neighborhood (at least not yet), and our shopping options can be somewhat questionable, there are, indeed, reasons that we’re more walkable than many other neighborhoods.

As conversation continues on whether streetcar would be a good fit on Foster Road, we can certainly point to many reasons why being less car-dependent is possible in outer SE Portland.  Aside from being an easy walk to dining options, as well as your choice in convenience marts, and other amenities, other parts of the city are very accessible from FoPo, despite common misperceptions.  For example, a trip downtown, from the “heart of Foster,” during morning rush hour,would take about 30 minutes.  Good luck driving and finding a parking spot in that time.  If you haven’t already, the 14-Hawthorne and 17-Holgate are very convenient, and even a streetcar wouldn’t be able to cross town any faster.

We aren’t just bus-dependent, though, in our hopes to traverse the city without a car.  Almost two years ago, the city completed the SE Center-Gladstone project, which added sharrows and bike markers to the streets, as well as turned stop signs and speed bumps to encourage more bikers and fewer cars.  By including SE Center and Gladstone in the city’s network of Neighborhood Greenways, FoPo can now access other bike thoroughfares, such as Woodward/Clinton toward downtown, or the eventual North to South ’50s Bikeway.  Now all we need are some bike corrals in front of Bar Carlo, and we’ll be set.

It doesn’t stop there.  To further promote less car-dependence, or at least capitalize off of it, Zipcar has three different locations in the neighborhood to access their fleet of cars.  Although this would be more expensive than biking or bussing, the need for a car is sometimes undeniable.  You can access a Zipcar on Powell, at SE 54th and 64th, as well as on Foster, at SE 63rd, just next to Laurelwood Park.

With such transportation options already in place, and FoPo’s ambitions of becoming a 20-minute neighborhood, it will be vital to ensure safe access to the various modes of moving.  Whether it be walking, biking, or waving down a bus, the residents of Foster-Powell, Mt. Scott-Arleta, and Lents, all deserve to feel safe when doing so.  This makes the importance of a funded streetscape plan all the more relevant and pressing.  It is our hopes that the city, PBOT, and the PDC all come together in an effort to make Foster Road, and in turn the surrounding neighborhoods, safer and more viable for alternate modes of transportation.

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7 Responses to Car-free in FoPo

  1. Ruben Medina says:

    I also think there should be better use of the alleyways in FoPo. I think that adding them to the Portland urban hiking trail system would make the neighborhood more attractive and walkable. Ofcourse some safety issues (i.e. crime issues) would have to be considered.

  2. Brilliant idea, Reuben. I’ve always wondered how to make the best use of our alleyways. They definitely differentiate us from other neighborhoods. This could fly…and there are certainly sights to be seen in our alleyways.

  3. Jeff says:

    FoPo is actually a pretty easy place to be car-free. I bike everywhere (very occasionally take the bus), and while getting down to NW does take a little longer than it used to when I lived in Buckman, I feel very safe the whole way… it would be nice to have a slightly less dismal grocery store than the 82nd street Fred’s, but at least it’s easy to get to.

    And I do like mountain biking through the alleys, too! I always worry that it annoys the residents, though.

  4. kurtwsommer@gmail.com says:

    Is there anyone tasked with/ or is it even needed/ to recruit business to FoPo? We have so many beautiful but vacant buildings on Foster, it would be nice if there was someone out there trying to find business to relocate or start up here. That kind of economic stir might be just what the ‘hood needed too.

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