By: Leah Fisher, Neighborhood Planning Program Manager
If you live in the Southeast Uplift area, it’s highly likely you walk frequently. Neighbors walk for exercise, walk our pets, and to clear our heads. We walk for function, to get to nearby bars, restaurants, shops, and transit. Some may even be lucky enough to walk to work, appointments, or errands.
SE Uplift Walks!
“I walk to get my blood flowing and clear my head.” ~Jay Derdarian
“I walk because I grew up walking as a primary mode of transportation, it’s how I get places I need to go” ~Mireaya Medina
“I walk because I don’t like going to the gym!” ~ Muz Afzal
“I walk to run errands – I get exercise and I don’t have to take my kids in and out of their car seats!” ~Leah Fisher
“I walk because I have two legs” ~ Molly Mayo
Why Do You Walk?
No matter your reason, you are doing yourself a huge favor – walking has so many benefits. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says that walking improves health even without weight loss, and people who are physically active live longer and have a lower risk for heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes, and some cancers.  Not only does walking improve your physical health, but also your mental health. According to a study published in the Archives of Internal Medicine, depression sufferers who took a daily walk showed just as much improvement in their symptoms as people on medication. Walking in your neighborhood has community benefits too:
- Walking helps you get to know your neighbors (and their furry friends) and build community through more frequent interactions.
- It enhances safety by having more eyes on the street.
- The ability to walk to goods and services in your neighborhood helps local businesses thrive.
Let’s Help Everyone Walk!
For many of us, a safe and enjoyable environment to walk in was a primary factor for living and working in Southeast Portland. However, despite the walkability of Southeast Portland, barriers still exist with some neighborhoods with far better walkability than others. Planning and health experts know that the absence of safe places to walk or bike safely in communities make it harder for people to get the moderate physical activity often recommended by health officials.  Fortunately for us, the Portland Bureau of Transportation (PBOT) is undergoing a planning process – #PedPDX – that will identify the key strategies and tools to make Portland a great walking city. If walking is a passion of yours, and you want others to benefit from safe walkable neighborhoods, you can learn about the project, track the process, and learn when to weigh in here.
Neighbors are also encouraged to attend SE Uplift’s June Land Use and Transportation Committee meeting to learn more about PedPDX and help PBOT verify data collected on existing walking infrastructure to date. PBOT staff is looking to neighbors, as local experts of their neighborhood sidewalks, paths, and crossings, to help verify the information they have is accurate before moving into the next phase of of the process. Everyone is an expert, and all are welcome to attend. And if you walk to the meeting, you get bonus points!
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 2018. More People Walk to Better Health. https://www.cdc.gov/vitalsigns/walking/index.html
 Lynette L. Craft, Ph.D. and Frank M. Perna, Ed.D., Ph.D. The Benefits of Exercise for the Clinically Depressed. 2004. US National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC474733/
Oregon American Planning Association. 2015. How to Plan with a Healthy Dose of Walkability. http://www.oregonapa.org/how-to-plan-with-a-healthy-dose-of-walkability/