Portsmouth, VA

Level: bronze
Population: 96,470
Population Density: 3,033/sq. mi.
Contact: Susan Wilson
757.393.8836
wilsons@portsmouthva.gov

Community Highlights

Portsmouth is designated as a Bronze-level community due to its safety campaigns targeted toward young pedestrians, health-related initiatives that encourage walking, and land use and parking policies that encourage a pedestrian-friendly streetscape. Highlights of Portsmouth’s application include:

  • Since its inception in 1973, elementary and middle school students have been learning traffic and street safety at Safety Town, a miniature city that is supported by funding through the Police Department and donations from local businesses. Kindergarten, first grade, third grade, and middle school students get interactive pedestrian and bicycle safety instruction, which includes safety at crosswalks, traffic signals and signs, and railroad crossings. Additionally, ALL 17 elementary schools participate in International Walk to School Day!
  • Through Healthy Portsmouth, a city-wide health and wellness initiative, community leaders promote walking as part of daily activity and recreation. Annually, a Community Action Plan sets several objectives to achieve health goals and, as of 2014, the city has garnered over $500,000 in grants and in-kind contributions to improve the health of the city.
  • Founded in 1752, Portsmouth is largely built-out and benefits from a downtown grid network. The city’s new zoning code continues to support the vision of a pedestrian-friendly city by making changes such as: reducing parking requirements, instituting a form-based code for central Portsmouth, and density bonuses for developers who include green building features.