If you are tired of flooding and pollution or treeless streets and lack of money from the council. Or bad train services or bad bus services or little public parkland. Or disposable nappies piling up in landfills or lack of vegan food for people that want it. Or no facilities for disabled people. And how supermarkets are taking over the world:
Meet Portland! This city is in Oregon (on the US northwest coast just below Canada). It has the best public transport in the world, a park for every day of the year (even though the population only just over Sheffield, which likely doesn’t have 365 public parks), it offers free and discounted public transport for seniors and disabled people. It has vegan malls and street carts, a reusable cloth nappy delivery service and trees on every street with bio-swales that catch polluted rainwater and stop flooding. Portland has over 92,000 acres of green space, mostly you can get to all of it via a connected network of walking triails and bike parks (it’s the most cycling-friendly city in the USA).
Once you know these things exist elsewhere in a city with a similar population, climate and budget as our major cities, then it becomes infuriating when the media does not cotton onto this, and ask present politicians why they are not doing the same. Here are just a few things that Portland does differently:
Trimet is known as one of the best transit systems on earth. People use a combination of tram, train and bus, and local elderly people and disabled passengers travel for free or at big discounts. Volunteers accompany new users, until they get used to the system (all the stations also have Braille information).
You won’t have to go far to find plant-based food. It’s everywhere. There are vegan supermarkets and even mini shopping malls, and a real street food culture, where you can find veggie hot dogs to falafel on most streets, sold hot and freshly made for affordable snacks.
The rain is not wasted here. Some goes to produce green living roofs (gives habitats to native wildlife). The city also uses bioswales, which absorb pollutants to stop them going down drains. This also helps to prevent flooding. The trees that are planted across the city, often are maintained by local volunteers. Read more on how to plant more trees in our cities.
Most of the local energy comes from renewable sources, and nearly all new buildings are made to green building standards.
The city is so cycling-friendly that many people commute by bike. It’s really easy too as all the public transport is designed to be bike-friendly, the roads are bike-friendly and the drivers are bike-friendly too!
Instead of being overrun by branches of Tesco, the main ‘chain store’ of supermarkets is New Seasons Market. Each branch is different, but all sell local organic food (food with yellow stickers means it’s made and sold direct by a local artisan). There are bioswales in the parking lots, and one even sells coffee from a van, where the employees are local people just out of prison, to try to get them back into society earning a legal living. Seniors and military staff get 10% discount, once a week.