Cultural Sensitivity in a Disadvantaged Neighborhood

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Presented by Michelle DePass and Rich Newlands

The North Williams Traffic Safety Project started out with the highest of ideals—a greatly improved, safer transportation corridor with easier interactions between vehicles, bikes and pedestrians. What happened next is a public participation nightmare with, perhaps, a legendary ending. This project provides the perfect scenario for best-case public participation by illustrating how NOT to conduct a planning process in disadvantaged communities, followed by lessons learned about the importance of culturally-sensitive public outreach within the context of rapidly-changing demographics of inner North/NE Portland.

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Cultural Sensitivity in a Disadvantaged Neighborhood

  1. 1. N Williams Traffic Safety Project
  2. 2. N Williams Traffic Safety Project Why N Williams?/ Background Bikes!: • „World Class‟ Bicycle City • Growth in N Williams Corridor Daily bicycle traffic at N Williams and Russell 6000 5000 Bicycles per day 4000 3000 2000 1000 0 1996 1998 2000 2002 2004 2006 2008 2010 2012 2014 2016 Year
  3. 3. N Williams Traffic Safety Project Project Team • Ellen Vanderslice: Project Manager • Wendy Cawley/ Rob Burchfield: Traffic Engineering Consultant Team • ALTA Drew Miesel • Kittleson & Assocs. • Michelle Poyourow
  4. 4. N Williams Traffic Safety Project Going In: the Project Perspective • Broaden scope: Not just about bikes: ‘Traffic Safety and Operations’ Project • Key to public involvement success: How to engage the African American community in a conversation about transportation
  5. 5. N Williams Traffic Safety Project Public Involvement Transportation Transportation Bikes! Project Improvements Technical Resources
  6. 6. N Williams Traffic Safety Project Going In: the PBOT Perspective • Broaden scope: „Traffic Safety and Operations‟ Project • Key to public involvement success: How to engage the African American community • Reality: The reverse: community needed to engage the City in a long over-due conversation- and its not about transportation
  7. 7. N Williams Traffic Safety Project Neighborhood History Transportation Bikes! Project Improvements Neighborhood Change
  8. 8. N Williams Traffic Safety Project History Transportation Bikes! Project Improvements Change
  9. 9. N Williams Traffic Safety Project
  10. 10. THE NEIGHBORHOODSVIEW What‟s so bad about bike lanes?
  11. 11. N. Williams Avenue Boise EliotNeighborhood Sustainability African Bicycling Americans
  12. 12. “Meeting on Williams project turns intodiscussion of race, gentrification”-BikePortland.org
  13. 13. What does bicycle planning haveto do with race?Google “bikes and gentrification”
  14. 14. Changing demographics NE Portland 1990-2010
  15. 15. N Williams Traffic Safety Project Lessons Learned: Overall Process • Be flexible- ASAP Challenge your assumptions • New focus on listening and learning
  16. 16. Start by challenging yourassumptions!Ask hard questions.• Who is not at the table?• In what context, historic, social, economic, is the planning happening?• How will I handle unintended consequences?
  17. 17. N Williams Traffic Safety Project Lessons Learned: Decision Making Process • Rebuild SAC Expand membership, more African American representation • Plan for a slower pace • Leadership Have a respected community member run the meetings • Re-do project goals Establish a new consensus about goals and priorities: ‘Outcomes’ document • Empower the SAC
  18. 18. Develop working agreements• Create guiding principles• Develop a shared understanding of context, background• Develop a system of shared input into process, agenda• Share decision making
  19. 19. N Williams Traffic Safety Project Slowing down and listening 28 Public involvement events: • Stakeholder Advisory Committee 17 meetings Feb, „11 – June , „12 • Open House #1: April 16, 2011 • Listening Session: June 23, 2011 • Community Forum: Nov. 28, 2011 • Focus group meetings: fall, 2011 • Open House #2: May 19, „12
  20. 20. Understand that the outreach andthe process will take longer thanexpected.• High contact communities• The role of technology• Overlooked resources, faith based communities for instance, barber shops, hair salons.
  21. 21. N Williams Traffic Safety Project Rebuild Stakeholder Advisory Committee • Expand membership • Broader African American representation Leadership • Debora Leopold Hutchins
  22. 22. N Williams Traffic Safety Project ‘Outcomes’: Sorting out and Prioritizing Key Design Issues Bikes: Neighborhood: • Capacity- bikes • Capacity- cars • Safety- Bus/bike conflict • Safety- all modes, particularly peds • Safety- „dooring‟ • Traffic calming
  23. 23. N Williams Traffic Safety Project Outcomes Sorting Out and Prioritizing Key Design Issues Bikes: • Capacity bikes: Road diet (wider bike lane) • Safety- Bus/bike conflict: Left side bike lane • Safety- „dooring‟: Road diet (wider bike lane) Neighborhood: • Capacity- cars: Maintain two travel lanes, signalize N Cook St • Safety- all modes, particularly peds: Curb extensions • Traffic calming: Road diet (single travel lane)
  24. 24. N Williams Traffic Safety Project Key Design Options Bikes: • Capacity bikes: Road diet (wider bike lane) • Safety- Bus/bike conflict: Left side bike lane • Safety- „dooring‟: Road diet (wider bike lane) Neighborhood: • Capacity- cars: Maintain two travel lanes, signalize N Cook St • Safety- all modes, particularly peds: Curb extensions • Traffic calming: Road diet (single travel lane) Overall: • Capacity: one travel lane vs. two • Left side bike lane- will it work?
  25. 25. N Williams Traffic Safety Project Alternatives Development & Evaluation Graphic of all the alternatives
  26. 26. N Williams Traffic Safety Project Recommendation „Outcomes‟ Design Creativity document • Fargo-Skidmore- ‘shared’ facility Consensus around priorities • Honoring HistoryAcknowledges need for compromise Alternatives/ Decision Making Complexity Community „3-D‟ leadership Modeling Focus the conversation on Reduce the complexity, achieving an decision Increase understanding
  27. 27. N Williams Traffic Safety Project A: Creativity: New idea- Shared Facility B: 3-D Models
  28. 28. N Williams Traffic Safety Project „Outcomes‟ Creativity document Fargo-Skidmore- ‘shared’ facility Consensus around priorities Honoring History elementAcknowledges need for compromise Alternatives/ Decision Making Complexity „3-D‟ Community Modeling leadership Reduce the complexity Focus the conversation on Increase understanding achieving an decision Recommendation
  29. 29. N Williams Traffic Safety Project Next Steps • Grant funding for design engineering and construction Implement „whole‟
  30. 30. Understand that to do this, you willneed more budget than is available• Is the longer more expensive process worth it?• How to justify the expense?• Exemplary project or just adequate?
  31. 31. N Williams Traffic Safety Project

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