Envisioning Sustainability in place of Suburban Strip Development

In May 2010, my Foothill Planning colleagues and I presented the Oak Grove Neighborhood Plan to the Oak Grove community.  Over 80 citizens who are interested in the future of the area showed up to hear our ideas for how to transition to a sustainable, vibrant, multi-modal and thriving community.  We presented a palette of small projects that can help bring about a big change in the overall feel and functioning of Oak Grove, away from a landscape of struggling or boarded-up strip-style development and toward a walkable, bikeable, thriving small-town downtown.

Read about the project open-house and community presentation here (PDF from the presentation slides). The project final report is the Oak Grove Neighborhood Center Plan.  I’m excited to hear that the Oak Grove community is working hard to get a number of these proposed projects off the ground.

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Working toward a “Bikeability Score”

I recently presented my work on developing a method to assess the bikeability of a neighborhood at Portland State University’s Transportation Seminar Series.  You can watch the presentation here (note that the audio comes in around 4:30 into the presentation), or download a pdf of the presentation slides.

As a bit of background, I set out last year to understand the ways that transportation infrastructure and land uses combine to influence how people choose to travel around their neighborhoods.  The project focuses in on understanding neighborhood bikeability by looking at the available bicycle routes (including bike lanes, bicycle boulevard, etc) and possible destinations (shops, services, restaurants, etc).  I propose a system of creating a “bikeability score”.

A couple places where you can get more information on this research:

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Bike Box Report

PSU’s report on Portland’s green bike boxes, on which I was a co-author, has been released (in draft form): http://www.ibpi.usp.pdx.edu/bikebox.php. Among other things, the report finds that incidences of conflict between cyclists and motorists decreased with the bike boxes, while the number of cyclists and motorist right turning actions both increased. UT-Austin also recently released a report on bike boxes, coming to similar conclusions.

Shortly following the release of the report, Portland’s Bureau of Transportation (PBOT) announced 11 more intersection locations that would be receiving bike boxes over the coming year.

Some coverage of the bike box report and PBOT announcement can be found on BikePortland.org (PSU evaluation finds that bike boxes work and City unveils list of 11 new bike box locations) and the Oregonian (Portland plans 11 new green bike boxes in wake of PSU study).

I presented some preliminary findings on this research in a poster at the American Planning Association annual conference in New Orleans, LA in April 2010.

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I am an urban planner based in Portland, OR. I work to make sustainable transportation an attractive and viable option in neighborhoods and cities. My primary areas of interest are in bicycle and pedestrian planning, transit-oriented development and neighborhood vitality and livability.

I have experience working in economic development and capacity-building aiming at making local communities and businesses stronger; in social and policy research seeking to making government more responsive to community needs; and in transportation planning pushing to make transportation infrastructure projects more efficient and effective.

I recently completed a Master’s degree in Urban and Regional Planning at Portland State University.

I can be reached at:
Phone: 360-333-8844
E-mail: nathan dot mcneil at gmail

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