Portland, the American exception

highwayHow did Portland get the way it is?

When I put the question to local numbers gal Elly Blue, interviewing her for a Street Talk Q&A in our monthly magazine, she had a simple hypothesis: by not building very many highways.

Some data I found today suggests she’s right.

Of all the major U.S. metro areas, only three (NYC, San Diego and Sacramento) have fewer lane-miles of urban freeway or arterial street per resident than Portland. And only three (NYC, Chicago and New Orleans) drive on such streets less.

As we near a mayoral election that could turn on differences over a major highway expansion in North Portland and Vancouver, that’s food for thought.

bike move

(Creative Commons I-205 photo by Doug Kerr.)

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