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Ted’s cure for hopelessness: How to slow traffic when police won’t help

Thursday, October 10th, 2013
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Ted Buehler and his tools of
the citizen activist trade.
(Photo © J. Maus/BikePortland)

An unsafe street that isn’t being improved can be one of the most frustrating experiences in city life. One of Portland’s most thoughtful safety activists has some smart ideas on what to do next.

This exchange in our comments section came from a story this summer about a hit-and-run that injured a nine-year-old girl at North Bryant and Borthwick, on a neighborhood greenway that’s supposed to be free of fast-moving auto traffic but which was, according to a reader who once lived there, built to invite fast speeds. Several readers expressed frustration with the difficulty of getting police to do speed enforcement in a spot like this; one, Kevin Wagoner, said he’s tried calling the city’s official 503-823-SAFE line in a similar situation to no avail.

Here’s Ted Buehler’s response, lightly edited:

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First 20 mph signs spotted on N Michigan, Williams

Wednesday, February 13th, 2013
New 20 MPH Sign
Woohoo!
(Photo © J. Maus/BikePortland)

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PBOT will begin installing new 20 mph signs next month

Monday, January 28th, 2013
Ginny Burdick with new speed limit sign
The wait is almost over.
(Photo: Michael Andersen/Portland Afoot)

The Portland Bureau of Transportation (PBOT) is gearing up to install 300 new speed limit signs throughout the city. The new signs are the result of a law PBOT passed in 2011 that gives the city legal authority to lower speed limits by 5 mph on residential streets that have been specifically designed as bikeways (a.k.a. neighborhood greenways). Since these neighborhood greenway streets are already at 25 mph, the new law allows PBOT to set the new limit at 20.

The big unveiling of these new signs was in August of last year; but PBOT has yet to install any new signs. We asked PBOT spokesman Dan Anderson for an update on the project last week. Anderson says they plan to begin installing the signs early next month and installation should be complete by April or May. The 300 signs will cover about 70 miles of streets at a cost of $30,00 to $45,000. (more…)

City reveals map of streets to get new 20 mph speed limits

Tuesday, August 21st, 2012
Is your favorite greenway on the
map? See larger version below.

At their meeting tomorrow, the Portland Bureau of Transportation (PBOT) will ask City Council to adopt a map of streets where they plan to install hundreds of new 20 mph signs.

Back in July, I shared details on how PBOT plans to roll out the new signs. The signs are the final piece of PBOT’s effort to lower speed limits on low-traffic neighborhood residential streets that are part of the existing neighborhood greenway network. (PBOT helped pass a state law in 2011 that gave them the authority to reduce speeds by 5 mph in certain circumstances.)

According to the ordinance filed by the City, they’re planning to install up to 300 new signs on 70 miles of streets. Most of the installations will be on already well-known neighborhood greenways streets in north, northeast, and southeast Portland. A few streets in southwest will also get the treatment, including portions of SW Illinois, Vermont, Maplewood, 52nd, SW Cheltenham, and others. Only a few of the signs will be installed downtown, with SW Harbor Way near Riverplace the only location in the plans. PBOT plans to eventually install some in the Pearl District/Northwest Portland area, but they are still analyzing data. (more…)

PBOT preps plans to roll out new 20 mph speed limit signs

Thursday, July 26th, 2012

Portland is about to embark on a new era in traffic safety. The Portland Bureau of Transportation (PBOT) is prepping plans to install 250-300 new 20 mph speed limit signs throughout the city’s expansive network of bike-friendly streets known as neighborhood greenways. The plans come after the City and advocacy groups worked to pass a new law in the 2011 legislative session that, for the first time, gave PBOT the authority to change existing speed limits without going through the Oregon Department of Transportation.

The law gives PBOT the authority to lower the speed limit on certain residential streets by 5 mph. There are specific criteria that must be met before a street can get the 20 mph signs such as; the number and speed of motor vehicles and the types of engineering improvements that are installed. The law also said each roadway must be specified in ordinance and passed by City Council before going into effect.

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Oregon state Senators want to raise highway speed limit

Friday, May 13th, 2011

“Oregon is the odd one out when it comes to the nation’s speed limits. By modernizing our speed limit we can increase the flow of traffic, lower commute times and fast track commerce through the state.”
— Sen. Bruce Starr (R-Hillsboro)

Saying that Oregon’s speed limit is “behind the times,” state Senators Bruce Starr (R-Hillsboro) and Jason Atkinson (R-Central Point) are working to raise speeds limits on highways and interstates to 75 miles per hour. The senators say they’ll look to amend House Bill 3150, the “neighborhood greenway bill” which was introduced to lower speed limits on certain residential streets by five miles per hour (down to 20 mph).

HB 3150 passed the House back in March by a vote of 45-14.

In a statement released today, Sen. Atkinson said, (more…)

PBOT-backed legislation would change speed limit authority

Wednesday, January 19th, 2011
A ride with the family-9
Portland hopes new law will lead to
20 mph limit on streets like these.
(Photo © J. Maus)

As we reported back in October, the City of Portland is working the legislature to gain more control over speed limits. Mayor Sam Adams is aware of the impact high speed motor vehicles have on our neighborhoods and has pushed for a new approach to speed limits for years.

PBOT, which Mayor Adams oversees, wants their own engineers to have the authority to decide what speed limits are appropriate for residential streets where they are currently building a network of interconnected “family friendly” bikeways. (Note: Currently, ODOT is in charge of setting speed limits — even on roads they themselves do not own and maintain.)

Now that the legislative session has begun, I thought it would be wise to track how the City of Portland is approaching this issue. (more…)

A speed limit sign success story

Monday, October 25th, 2010
New signs on SE 14th Street in Sellwood.
(Photos by Lisa S.)

We’ve been talking a lot about speed lately. With the City looking to take on the issue in Salem this coming legislative session, and the BTA mentioning the positive impacts of lower speeds at every opportunity, it’s becoming clear that 2011 will have a lot of speed-related news.

On that note, a reader sent me an email last week about how she got the City of Portland to install 15 mph speed limit signs on her street. It’s a great example of a citizen taking action and the City listening and responding.

Lisa S. lives on SE 14th Street in the Sellwood neighborhood. She says the three-block stretch of 14th between Duke and SE Bybee (near Llewellyn Elementary School, map here) got a lot of cut-through traffic. (more…)

It’s official: 20 mph speed limit on City of Portland’s legislative agenda

Monday, October 18th, 2010
Sharrows on N. Concord-2
Streets like N. Concord Avenue would
have 20 mph maximum speed limit.
(Photos © J. Maus)

The City of Portland has released their draft 2011 Legislative Agenda. As we hinted might happen back in July, that agenda includes an initiative to reduce neighborhood speed limits to a maximum of 20 mph on certain streets.

Mayor Adams has made it clear for a long time that he wants the Bureau of Transportation to have more authority to set local speed limits (currently all speed limits are set by ODOT, but can changed by request). However, instead of looking to make a wholesale transfer of authority, it looks as though PBOT will try to create a blanket law that would set a 20 mph maximum speed limit on all streets designated as “neighborhood greenways” (which is how I suspected they’d go about it; read end of this post published last month). (more…)

In London, ’20′s plenty’ fast enough

Wednesday, September 1st, 2010
Sounds reasonable to me.

Streetfilms has a new video on 20′s Plenty for us, a campaign in the U.K. working to make 20 mph the standard speed limit in residential areas. The campaign is catching on quickly, with more and more U.K. cities adopting the policy all the time. Given that PBOT might be considering a legislative fix to wrest greater control of speed limits from ODOT, and the fact that Mayor Sam Adams has already shown an interest in reducing speed limits and has made safety his number one transportation priority, this could be an idea that catches on here in Portland. (more…)

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