The Dangers of Using Mapping Apps in Southwest Portland

Google Maps image street view looking west on SW Patton Road.

I have a pretty strong stomach, but it rocked when I read BikePortland regular Mark McClure’s comment about his recent experience walking SW Patton. Apparently Apple Maps walking instructions led him to a disappearing shoulder on this impassable road. Where did Apple think it was going to send it, Scholls Ferry? The horror.

There were several stretches where I could barely find a shoulder to walk on. In a few instances I had to cross SW Patton from the left side (facing oncoming traffic) to the right side to even find the shoulder. The level crossings where I had poor visibility were particularly annoying.

Friends, don’t rely on Silicon Valley to arbitrate your Southwest walking experience. Instead, turn to your friends at SW Trails PDX. What would have helped Mark was the arcGIS SW Trails Urban Trails map which guides you to “lightly trafficked streets, parks, and major unbuilt rights-of-way connecting walkers to schools, shopping, parks, and public transit.” common “.

SW Trails arcGIS map of southwest Portland walking trails. (Source: SW Trails PDX)

There are plenty of great walks in southwest Portland, in some ways it’s a walker’s paradise, but don’t go alone. Most collectors and thoroughfares in the southwest do not have sidewalks, on either side of the road. (At 26%, Southwest sidewalk coverage on collectors and arterials is less than half that of East Portland). Chasing disappearing shoulders by making multiple crossings is, unfortunately, the norm on the major roads here.

Fortunately, nearly 30 years ago, a small group of brave residents set out to provide an alternative to second-class walker status in this car-centric environment. What they have built is a true grassroots organization fueled by a lot of volunteer work. Today, SW Trails has a hiking map of nearly fifty miles of waymarked trails, and their accomplishments include designing and securing funding for the 4T Trail Loop (Train, Trail, Tram, and Trolley) .

In addition to their twice-monthly guided group hikes, SW Trails has responded to pandemic disruptions by launching a series of 35 self-guided hikes covering more than 200 miles of unique hikes southwest of Portland.

Mark, I’m glad you got home safe. Hope you, and everyone else, can find time this summer for a self-guided SW Trails hike in Southwest Portland.


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