Welcome to my running list about all of the things I love about walking in Portland.
- Sidewalks that are easy to walk on and protected from traffic
- Good signage
- Protected area to step out to indicate to drivers that I intend to walk across the street
- Electric signals
- Traffic signals that automatically have a walk cycle (no need to worry about missing hitting the button)
- Sidewalks and paths that follow the most direct route
- Fun touches (official or otherwise)
- Art on the intersection
- Decorative people painted in bike paths
- Little Free Libraries
- Walking across or along the Willamette
- Admiring all the plants
- Slowing down and seeing (and hearing) birds
- Checking out the bioswales
- Interesting buildings and delightful architectural flourishes
- Easily shifting to mass transit or a bikeshare if needed
- Discovering public stairs or other handy cut-through to get where I need to go (or explore something new)
Walking in Portland is one of the great pleasures of the city, particularly when the weather is lovely. But don’t rule out a walk when it’s raining — it can still be pretty fabulous, and you just need to target coffee shops, dessert stops, and bars along the way.
In some ways, walking Portland is even easier than biking in Portland, particularly when you stay in the central core. There are a few places where the crosswalk lights will only turn to walk if you hit the button (HIT THE BUTTON) or the pedestrian route is oddly inconvenient, but these are usually surmountable problems.
As you head further east (82nd & beyond) and further south, the city shifts to be a significant challenge for walkers, and you should be very careful with crossing the larger streets.
But sticking closer in, one possible way to head North to South is to follow the suggested bike routes. These actually work better on foot than on a bicycle in places, and there are lots of great places to stop for a break to sit, eat, or drink.
Now that’re feeling pretty good about some general guidelines for walking around Portland, let me suggest some favorite walks and resources.
Walks (with a food spin):
Portland is a walkers paradise. Whether you are visiting or live here, there is a very real possibility to get around central Portland without a car. While we’ve gotten a lot of coverage for our bicycle culture, walking is just as enjoyable and slow enough to make all sorts of fun discoveries.
Things to remember when walking around our fair city:
- On the Eastside (particularly around the Convention Center and Lloyd Center), you will need to push the “walk button” to get the walk signal to cross the street.
- At an intersection that does not have a crosswalk sign, you have the right to cross the street and have traffic stop for you. Give physical signals that you are planning to cross and not just hanging out on the street corner. Be careful on multi-lane roads and use common sense. If one lane stops for you (pretty common), be VERY sure the next lane has stopped before walking into it.
- Many great walking paths are also used by bicyclists and runners — be careful and keep a steady and predictable line if possible.
- Bicyclists can ride on the sidewalk, but hopefully aren’t riding too fast or too close to you. Help them get by you if you notice them coming by walking to the side. It’s safe to assume that if they are biking on the sidewalk, they are either newer cyclists and a little nervous or that riding in that street is particularly unsafe. Give them a friendly hello so they keep on riding their bikes instead of their cars!