(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.
Lisa says her street is only 18 feet wide, so when her husband read a post here on BikePortland that mentioned Oregon’s narrow residential roadway law, he contacted PBOT to ask for 15 mph speed limit signs.
To refresh your memory, ORS 801.368 came from H.B. 2297, a bill sponsored by Rep. Carolyn Tomei that passed the Oregon legislature in 2007. The law defines a “narrow residential roadway” as any street “not more than 18 feet wide at any point between two intersections or between an intersection and the end of the roadway” and “Not of sufficient width to allow one lane of traffic in each direction”. The bill amended Oregon’s basic speed rule so that all such roadways could have a maximum speed limit of just 15 mph.
Lisa said PBOT “was very responsive and very helpful” about getting the new signs installed. Since we all know that reducing speed takes a lot more than signs, Lisa says PBOT has also sent in a request to the Portland Police to do enforcement on her street to help raise awareness of the 15 mph limit.
How’s it going so far? Lisa chimed in with a comment below: “It’s only been a week and so far there are still plenty of drivers going much faster than 15mph. I’m hoping the targeted enforcement will raise awareness of the speed limit… As far as discouraging cut-through traffic, I hope it does have that effect. 18 foot wide streets are just not designed for the volume of cars that use this street to avoid traffic on Milwaukie.”
As this example shows, individual citizens can do a lot to to take control of traffic conditions on residential streets. For more information about speed reduction programs — including the City’s yard sign lending program — visit the PBOT website.