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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…)

Control of speed limits high atop PBOT’s legislative hopes

Wednesday, July 28th, 2010
Scene of fatal at Willamette and Haven-9
PBOT wants the legal authority
to reduce speed limits on
neighborhood streets.
(Photo © J. Maus)

With funding-related legislation a non-starter in Salem this coming session, the City of Porltand Bureau of Transportation (PBOT) instead sees an opportunity to work toward major, statewide policy changes that would support its transportation goals.

High atop their list of priorities for the 2011 legislative agenda is a much-anticipated strategy to wrest authority of setting speed limits away from the Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT) and give it to local jurisdictions. Currently, ODOT sets speed limits, even on streets owned and managed by cities and/or counties.
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How should ODOT spend safety funds? Tell them!

Friday, January 8th, 2010
Bike traffic in Portland-9.jpg
ODOT wants input on transportation safety.
(Photo © J. Maus)

The Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT) has announced two meetings where they will solicit public input on their Transportation Safety Action Plan.

Last updated in 2004, that safety plan is an important part of the Oregon Transportation Plan and it guides ODOT’s safety budget. Anyone with ideas and feedback about how ODOT can improve their safety programs is encouraged to attend. The City of Portland’s top traffic safety staffer, Mark Lear says these meetings are the best place to tell ODOT what you feel is important. Lear adds that PBOT “wants a strategy based on improving safety for all modes” and that he’s most concerned about speed and alcohol related crashes. (more…)

Speed limits and ODOT: A primer

Wednesday, November 11th, 2009
Some Portlanders will resort to
anything to slow people down.
(Photos © J. Maus)

Excessive speed. It’s a killer and it’s on the loose on streets throughout Portland.

It’s a problem and there are many ways to combat it. One of those is to reduce speed limits. But, as you’ll find out below, that’s far easier said than done.

Currently the Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT) holds the power to set speed limits in our state. Even on local roads, where they don’t have jurisdiction in terms of maintenance or engineering, all speed change requests must go through ODOT. This process is a thorn in the side of our local Bureau of Transportation.
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In letter to ODOT, Adams urges a new approach to speed limits

Tuesday, May 26th, 2009
Sensible speed limits are key
in creating a people-friendly city.
(Photos © J. Maus)

In America, there are many unseen barriers to creating a more human-friendly transportation system. Many of them reside in national engineering manuals that were created — and continue to be “updated” — by auto-centric engineers. Other barriers are entrenched in policies and processes at those familiar bastions of the status quo; state-level Departments of Transportation.

Among the many powerful transportation planning tools that the Oregon DOT holds jurisdiction over is setting speed limits on city streets. It should go without saying how vital speed limits are in creating a bike and pedestrian-friendly city. High-speed, arterial streets — especially through residential areas, where even a 35 mph speed limit feels unsafe — are often the location of very serious collisions. (more…)