Oregon Walks GIS Jam:: Survey and Analysis

The Portland Bureau of Transportation has done a survey of Portland residents to see what we think is important.  See the results of this survey at


In addition an online discussion on Google Groups “Oregon Walks GIS Group” group talked about what should go into a survey for a GIS walkway network analysis for SW Portland. Visit this group at http://groups.google.com/group/OregonWalksGISJammers

Paul Cone            Feb 10 Links to PBOT surveys
Scott Parker       Feb 9   Network modeling on GIS
Don Baack           Feb 9   Improvements to promote walking
Michael Arnold   Feb 8   Questions for a survery
Scott Parker       Feb 7   Survey questions to set weights for GIS model
Travis Driessen Feb 7   Need data from specific cases to answer ped model questions
Scott Parker       Feb 7   Ask in survey to choose between 2 routes
Travis Driessen Feb 7   Network weighting structures after sunset
Scott Parker       Feb 7   Computer modeling speaks to planners who like data not stories
Travis Driessen Feb 7    Remarks on Don’s suggested questions
Don Baack          Feb 7    Sample questions for survey
Travis Driessen Feb 7    Survey asks people to place icons on GIS map about ped issues
Travis Driessen Feb 7    Geo-survey to do GIS walkway network analysis

From: “Cone, Paul” <Paul.Cone@portlandoregon.gov>
Date: February 10, 2014

Here is an opinion survey and project you should take note of. PBOT commissioned it as part of its budget process.




From: Scott Parker
Sent: Sunday, February 09, 2014 10:52 AM

I don’t discount the value of opinion surveys; on-line, by mail, or at neighborhood meetings. We have used them for generations and they have produced good results in most circumstances. I’m trying to introduce us to network modeling. After all, a goal of the GIS Jammers is to find ways that we can use Geographic Information Systems to improve walking conditions. There are some things that network modeling is certainly good for. Highway engineers and planners use it effectively, often at the expense of pedestrians. There are some things that network modeling is certainly not good for. Streetscape design is one example. There are some things where we don’t know if network modeling will work or how it will work. I think this is where we should focus.

Travis and a small team of PSU GIS students is testing the walkway network modeling and analysis programs in a real neighborhood meeting environment. The technical parts seem to be going well but there are two areas that need our creative thinking, weighting walkway segments and visualizing the results.

Everything Don says is right on. I don’t know of anyone who understands recreational walking in SW Portland as well as Don. I think the Jammers have two things to do. One is to take what Don is telling us and incorporate it into the walkway network model. The other is to help Don understand network modeling so that he can add it to his tools for improving walking conditions in SW. It is difficult to do this with writings.

I think we should get back to the roots of the Jam. It was a weekly face-to-face meeting in a room with computers where we could demonstrate the GIS tools and see how people worked with them. We need to help Katie get us together.


From: Don Baack
Sent: Sunday, February 09, 2014

I want to share some real world experience.

Based on many conversations with SW walkers here are some of the thing that have led to (my estimate) a 3 or 4 fold increase in walking in SW Portland in the past 15 years.

First is having maps that show walkable streets and the Urban Trail Routes. When folks venture beyond their immediate 5-7 block comfort zone, they need some help to understand where they can go without exposing themselves to excessive vehicle volumes and speeds. People visiting SW view our lack of sidewalks as a huge problem. It is a huge problem on busy, high speed streets. It is a problem on blind curves of local streets where vehicles cannot see pedestrians in the street since the city has not required homeowners to prune back or remove vegetation. But for many local streets, the lack of sidewalks is not much of a problem–for those of us used to walking on our streets. Parks hike leaders do not want to lead hikes in SW because they view our streets as unsafe. We also recognize we need extended shoulders on some moderate high volume streets, and full sidewalks on the likes of Barbur, BH Hwy, et al. I do not see many folks using electronic maps while walking, virtually everyone I see uses a paper map (or a book) for their walking trips unless they are very technical! Your questionnaire should ask about the use of maps.

2nd, the marked and mapped urban trail routes have given our citizens confidence they can walk long distances on relatively good routes that avoid major problem streets where ever possible.

3rd having books like those of Laura Foster describing walking as an adventure with good maps of “Backdoor Routes” that get people started walking in their own communities.

4th having organized walks that take people on routes they would never do has exposed a large portion of our population to the real world of walking. SWTrails has been leading such hikes for 15 years, many other groups do also.

5th having the major emphasis on active lifestyles by the health community has helped add a sense of urgency from a personal health perspective. I participated in a health study a number of years ago with some generally older non walkers. We walked 3 days a week, coordinators were paid a minuscule amount to lead the walks. The study ended after about 6 months, but the walking group continued to meet for the next 10 years. It was the sense of community that was formed that kept them meeting, not the walking, In the last few years they stopped walking and just met for coffee and talking (remember these are old folks). Your questionnaire should inquire about this walking in pairs, 3 or groups. I am guessing over half our SW walkers walk with at least one other person or their dog. Your questionnaire should inquire about the influence of pets on getting people walking. That was true in my personal case, my wife brought lost dog Siskiyou home from Madison HS. She needed walking, got me off my backside.

From my perspective, additional walks generated by improvements is quite a ways down the list of things that get people out walking. Exceptions would be if one lived in an area where it was dangerous to just step into the street, such as some places along Barbur, BH Hwy et al.

I think asking people about sidewalks leads to a bias that suggests we in fact need sidewalks. I think the relevant question is “does the street need improvements to make it safer to walk”? To ask directly about sidewalks creates expectations in people’s minds that it may be possible to get sidewalks when that likely is not going to happen except on busy arterials, especially when you add “how much are you willing to pay to make sidewalks happen on this street?” People generally are very willing to have someone else pay for the improvements but are reluctant to pay themselves. (There are exceptions of course).

I think crossing improvements are an a very high priority, but one that is not perceived by the public as such. Crossings and where we do improvements on arterials need to be well thought out. The improvements whether it be extended shoulders or sidewalks need to be continuous and not require the walker to switch sides of the street.

Have you all seen the Federal Highway study on the relative safety of extended shoulders vs full sidewalks done in the Raleigh NC area? In summary it says that extended shoulders provide 80% of the safety benefits of full sidewalks in the area of their study. The cost of extended shoulders is less than 20% of that of full sidewalks.

Don Baack

On Feb 8, 2014, Michael Arnold <mha.hiker@gmail.com> wrote:

All this has got me thinking! Primarily about the value of behavior questions/data vs just asking people to evaluate the infrastructure in their neighborhood.

Making the neighborhoods more walkable in an interesting way should lead to more walking. This is in theory quantifiable and measurable. How many additional walks/month resulted from the improvements. Our ultimate modeling tool would be able to generate a graph that plotted increments in walking trip frequency against dollars spent (figuring out optimal use of resources at each level 🙂

Here are some kinds of questions that might be useful:

age? disabilities? smart phones?, use any travel related apps? If so which (and how frequently.)

modes of transportation: own a car (used with what frequency?) car share? taxi? carpooling? frequency of bicycle use? frequency of bus use? frequency of metro rail use? frequency of walking? (!)

Peoples destinations in their neighborhoods, frequency of trips to each of these, modes of transportation used (broken down by frequency)

route options that people avoid on foot, particular in favor of a longer option!

reasons people prefer other modes over walking (when they do.)

what specific improvements would make them choose walking more frequently? how much more frequently?

other factors: weather, light or dark, weekday or weekend?

BTW Scott is right about the product marketing people doing this sort of thing all the time. I think the first weighting of peoples preferences by equivalent walking distance was actually done by a cigarette company: “I’d walk a mile for a camel!”

On Fri, Feb 7, 2014 Scott Parker <jscottparker@comcast.net> wrote:

You have written up our dilemma quite well. Nevertheless the walkway analysis won’t be very useful in East Portland unless we can find some way to show the value of improving crossings of those 5 lane, 45 mph, arterials. If we just use length there is no reason not to use the street network since, weighted by length, crossings are essentially free. The first time we show any results from walkway network analysis we must have realistic weights applied to the arterial crossings. We can refine the weights as we see whether they produce the routes that people actually use but we need something to start with.

Using actual routes from GPS tracks is much more complex than you think. There are two esential things that you don’t know: What are the alternative routes that were rejected and why were they rejected. And, in the case of recreational trips, you don’t even know the destination because there may not be one.

We can start with some thought exercises:
– Is it twice as difficult to cross a 4 lane road as a 2 lane road?
– Is a major street with a walk light the same weight as a residential street?
– Which is worse: a 4-way stop at the intersection of two 4 lane roads or a marked but uncontrolled crossing of 2 lanes?

We can ask these sort of questions about specific places that people know. Then test our weighting formula to see if it produces the right rank ordering. That would certainly be good enough.

Product marketing guys do this all the time.


From: Travis Driessen
Sent: Friday, February 07, 2014

This is a good line of thinking.

That is, until we can merge OSM with the neocortex (any possibility of that Michael ;), I will remain highly skeptical of humans’ cognitive ability to accurately judge distances with their mental maps. If we want to figure out this information we need investigatory techniques more akin to that of Sherlock Holmes or House 🙂 . That is, we can’t ask people to tell us stories of “how far they would walk to get to an ideal walkway route” because they don’t know, per se, we need to derive/analyze data from their actual actions.

So we need to find specific cases where we can get/derive this data. There are two, at least, ways to get this. The first would be crafting our survey questions towards specific cases of people going out of their way to avoid a particular node or segment. We can do this because we are using a “geo” survey where we can locate and determine precisely how far people are walking to avoid specific dim lit segments or poor intersections etc. to get to particular destinations.The second would be, potentially, to collect massive amounts of gps track data (e.g. Map My Walk might be a good source), and identify, characterize, then weight, intersections/othersegments pedestrians are avoiding accordingly. The third would be some experimental forms where we set up a perfect crosswalk at a certain distance from a bad intersection take pedestrian counts, conduct intercept surveys, and quantify the results. This latter way would be slower and more resource intensive, and least helpful (I think). The GPS tracks method would probably be the most helpful, but might be hard to get our hands on the data (I should mention that I have been thinking/wanting of sending a request to Map My Walks to provide this data for a research paper).

The geo-survey, creatively and effectively crafted, sent out to thousands of Portlanders, is probably our best short term bet. (and we could even set it up where we can get follow-up email addresses to conduct further focused surveys that target the respondents that provide really good information).

I will add more and refine some of the questions to align it more with a weighting purpose, Scott. Any suggestions from anyone in the meantime are welcome.

On Fri, Feb 7, 2014 Scott Parker <jscottparker@comcast.net> wrote:

This is good thinking.

So the question might be: Is there a situation where you follow a different route at night vs. day? Why do you do this?

If we know the difference in lengths that would be a valid penalty weight. If we know that this is because of lighting or traffic then we know where to assign the penalty. If it’s because of fear of crime we’re stuck because that doesn’t help us decide where to make walkway improvements.

In any case, where we can find people taking different routes to the same place there is quantifiable information to be learned. We just need to know the two routes and the reason for taking the longer one. We would hope for a situation where people walk out of their way at some time of the week, e.g., rush hour, to avoid a single walkway segment because of something specific and measurable about that walkway segment. That would give us a fairly defensible weight.


From: Travis Driessen
Sent: Friday, February 07, 2014

Could we attempt to apply this lighting approach (i.e. well lit and crime-safe walkways) to create a unique walkway segment/network weighting structure for walking/biking routes after sunset (which is calculated leap years ahead of time for any given city)?

So during the day, we might favor walkways on proximal parallel side-streets (local or collectors) vs. walkways on dangerous, noisy, poor air quality, high traffic, arterial streets, or however we weight them, but during the evening we reassign weights to arterial streets or well-lit (i.e. a function of street light density; if we can get that data) side-streets. Just a thought.

It would seem that traffic volumes generally drop after dusk, although this is less certain (i.e. some areas maintain high traffic levels until later evening hours, and vehicle traffic data is based on average daily traffic not necessarily by hour- or is it?….. also cities at high northern latitudes get darker earlier and would still see high traffic levels persist on aerials at/after “evening” rush hour).

On Fri, Feb 7, 2014 Scott Parker <jscottparker@comcast.net> wrote:

We’ve been over this question about extended shoulders and sub-standard walkways in SW. I don’t think we’ll get any farther asking the same questions at the same neighborhood meetings. We propose to take a new approach, computer modeling. It may not work at all but at least it’s different. If it suceedes it will be because it speaks the language of engineers and planners. Like it or not, these are people who do not work from stories. They work from data. They work toward numerical goals. They think about every street segment as part of a transportation network. We want them to think that way about every walkway segment.

If we had some quantitative understanding of the relative preference for walkways built to standard vs. extended shoulders then for various alternative designs we could show how many people benefit, how much they benefit, and where they live.


From: Travis Driessen
Sent: Friday, February 07, 2014 8:10 PM

Thanks, Don! Great stuff here!

Some comments on yours in Blue: ,

1. Please identify/locate walking routes you would like to take but are on private property or homeowner association controlled and not open to the public

Yep, I think we should definitely add this one. It could be added to the “barriers” subset of questions or left as is.

2. Does. The SW WALKING MAP show all the routes you would like to use? If not, what existing connections should be added?

With suprmaps, we can’t layer other GIS layers, such as the SW Walking map you refer to, (which would be nice), but we could simply generalize this type of question to say something like:

Please identify where would you like to see a new (see below) to better connect your walking route:

off-street trail
fyi- (we already ask about new intersections and crossing guards)

3. Should additional off street trails be provided to get through the neighborhood? Where should they be built?

This would be covered if we asked the question above.

4. Would you walk on SW CORONADO from SW 16th Drive to Tryon Creek State Park at Boones Ferry Road If a path were to be built? A right of way exists, a path used to exist but has fallen into disrepair.

Planners certainly want to know if their projects will be used by the public and the levels of use. This type of question gets us towards that answer for specific projects. But, I am not sure we should be asking project specific questions in our survey (since we want to make it apply to any location in Portland).

Our network analysis could determine the potential numbers of people ( residencies), in theory, that would benefit from repairing the path. And we can answer this question (i.e. how many people would potentially benefit if this specific path was repaired) in our community meeting via our live network analysis.

The use of paths gets difficult to project if they are intended for recreational purposes, but I don’t think that applies to this path.

Any thoughts on this anyone?

5. Would continuous extended shoulders 3 to 4 foot wide with no parking posted be a good improvement on streets you walk or wheel your wheelchair on? Which streets should have this treatment? Would having an extended shoulder on one side of the street be sufficient or should they be on both sides of the street.

I like this question. But, this may be more of a design question and out of the scope of our network analysis. Not sure.

Scott, could this be used to weight segments or could it be useful for network analysis in some other ways?

6. If a good pedestrian trail existed from Tryon Creek State Park through Marshall Park to Barbur. And Hillsdale, would you use it? How often, for what purpose?

Same response as in #4.

Is the lighting of your walking route sufficient that you feel safe walking at night? Where would you like to see additional lighting?

Great question. We could also ask something like “what streets/walkway routes in your neighborhood are poorly lit? .. how far would you walk to avoid these routes in order to have a well lit path on an evening walk?

Thanks, Don!

On Fri, Feb 7, 2014 at 6:39 PM, Don Baack <donbaack@gmail.com> wrote:

Suggested additional questions based on SWTrails work in the area.

Are their walking routes you would like to take but are on private property or homeowner association controlled and not open to the public? Where are they?

Does. The SW WALKING MAP show all the routes you would like to use? If not, what existing connections should be added?

Should additional off street trails be provided to get through the neighborhood? Where should they be built?

Would you walk on SW CORONADO from SW 16th Drive to Tryon Creek State Park at Boones Ferry Road If a path were to be built? A right of way exists, a path used to exist but has fallen into disrepair.

Would continuous extended shoulders 3 to 4 foot wide with no parking posted be a good improvement on streets you walk or wheel your wheelchair on? Which streets should have this treatment? Would having an extended shoulder on one side of the street be sufficient or should they be on both sides of the street.

If a good pedestrian trail existed from Tryon Creek State Park through Marshall Park to Barbur. And Hillsdale, would you use it? How often, for what purpose?

Is the lighting of your walking route sufficient that you feel safe walking at night?

Don Baack

On Feb 7, 2014,  Travis Driessen <travis.driessen@pdx.edu> wrote:

Suggested edits from Michael:

Below are suggested edits, intended primarily to simplify/clarify the wording. I also think “open-ended questions” early in the survey are important to let people speak what is most on their mind. should be added to allow folks to address what is most on there minds. (4,5 below is my attempt at that.)

Please use the “place marker” to identify:
1. The street corner nearest your home.
2. Important places your family walks to.
3. Additional places your family would like to be able to walk to.

Please mark locations along your families current or desired walking routes where:
4. There is a danger or problem.
5. You would like to see improvements made.
6. New cross-walks are needed.
7. Staffing with crossing guards is needed.
8. Barriers get in your way (e.g. fenced parking lots, or dead end streets.)
9. Sidewalks are missing.

Please mark any places where a wheelchair user you know is impeded due to:
10. Missing curb-ramps.
11. Any other reason.

On Fri, Feb 7, 2014  Travis Driessen <travis.driessen@pdx.edu> wrote:

Estimad@s amig@s,

In order to prepare for our initial experiment in GIS walkway network analysis of the Arnold Creek walkway network, we are setting up a geo-survey. The survey will use PSU’s new tool “suprmap.org” to help gather data on walkway network issues before we attend an ACNA community meeting later in February as well as to prepare for future neighborhood outreach efforts.

Specifically, this tool will help us engage citizens on issues related to the connectivity and gaps in their walkway network. The objective of this survey is to remotely locate place-based opportunities and constraints before going into neighborhood meetings and conducting a live walkway network analysis. That is, the data from the survey are not intended to be an aggregate decision making method that definitively identifies where improvements should be made, more so the data should help us to set our sights around where specific improvements should be evaluated. Moreover, by conducting analysis in an open manner, from the initial stages of planning, we aim to broaden and deepen a collaborative environment that better ensures community support of the project outputs.

For any questions on the interfaces (e.g. the place marker tool) and outputs (e.g. spreadsheets, GIS layers, etc.) of the survey tool please refer to slides 4-7 in the attached presentation (the presentation is a bit out of date) or go to suprmap.org and experiment.

Can you please provide comments on these questions? Are there any questions that we missed? Could the “wording” be improved? Etc.?

Afterwords, we will set up the Geo-Survey for Arnold Creek so it will be available online for residents.


Travis Driessen
Graduate Certificate in Geographic Information Systems 2014
Portland State University

The Google Groups “Oregon Walks GIS Group” group.
Visit this group at http://groups.google.com/group/OregonWalksGISJammers.

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