Urban Tribe - Ride with your kids in front.

First 20 mph signs spotted on N Michigan, Williams

Posted by on February 13th, 2013 at 9:45 am

New 20 MPH Sign

(Photo © J. Maus/BikePortland)

They’re here!

As promised, the City of Portland has installed the first 20 mph signs. I noticed two on N. Michigan Ave last night and reader Zac Parker shared with us via Twitter that there are several on N. Williams Avenue between Dekum and Lombard.

When I shared PBOT’s work on Michigan yesterday, I didn’t even know I’d see 20 mph signs on it when I came home last night. These new signs will only further establish our growing network of bike boulevards/neighborhood greenways as streets where biking and living come first.

Imagine you’re in a car and you turn onto Michigan (or Going or SE Clinton, etc…): You see “Bumps Ahead” signs, sharrows, people biking, kids playing, 20 mph signs, medians at the crossings, bike wayfinding signage, and so on. I think 80% of will to either slow way down or simply avoid those streets in the future. We can critique the design details and complain about a lack of enforcement for the new lower speed limit; but I think it’s clear the sum of all these parts will have a major impact on how these streets serve people on bikes.

PBOT will install 300 of these signs on about 70 miles of streets in the coming weeks and months. Let us know where you see them pop up and share your thoughts about them in the comments.

NOTE: We love your comments and work hard to ensure they are productive, considerate, and welcoming of all perspectives. Disagreements are encouraged, but only if done with tact and respect. If you see a mean or inappropriate comment, please contact us and we'll take a look at it right away. Thank you — Jonathan

  • Nate February 13, 2013 at 9:59 am

    N. Concord!

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  • Andrew K February 13, 2013 at 10:05 am

    I fully support slowing the speed limit down to 20 mph on and around the neighborhood greenways. I realize enforcement by traffic police will more than likely be poor, but that can be addressed and dealt with as needed. Police enforcement is only one piece of the puzzle and we shouldn’t just assume drivers will blatantly ignore the posted limit. Maybe I’m naïve, but I do believe people behind the wheel generally want to do the right thing and don’ want to injure others.

    In fact, I just have to say I love the neighborhood greenways concept in general. I ride on one in South East nearly every day and it seems to work. Cars are generally respectful and safe, the speed bumps really help, and the overall “vibe” of the area is one of a shared space equal to all.

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  • Adam H. February 13, 2013 at 10:20 am

    Why do they look different from the other speed limit signs in Portland?

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    • Spiffy February 13, 2013 at 10:53 am

      good point… this new one says SPEED LIMIT where the old ones just say SPEED… I wonder what the legal differences are…

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      • Adam H. February 13, 2013 at 11:05 am

        The new ones are USDOT (AASHTO) standard, and the old ones are Oregon (ODOT) standard. I’m wondering why they went with the former rather than the latter, like all the other signs in the city.

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        • ScottB February 13, 2013 at 1:18 pm

          Because the ODOT standard has to comply with the federal standard. The word LIMIT will be appearing on all speed signs in the state as they are replaced, unless the local jurisdiction adopts it’s own Traffic Manual with exceptions to the ODOT manual (the way ODOT does for the Federal MUTCD).

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          • Adam H. February 13, 2013 at 1:20 pm

            I prefer the ODOT signs.

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            • are February 13, 2013 at 10:19 pm

              it is not at all difficult to find people on comment boards at, say, oregonlive who will argue that the absence of the word “limit” means the sign is merely advisory.

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  • Nick February 13, 2013 at 10:20 am

    I’ve noticed the new signs on parts of the North Portland Connector greenway too. I think it definitely helps ram home the point that these are not streets to be blasting down in your car.

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  • Adam February 13, 2013 at 10:33 am

    Sweet! I really dig the orange flags letting people know they are new too. Otherwise, drivers will pay no attention to the signs whatsover initially.

    Although as an aside, I guess you could also make the point that, if these were proper bikeways, there would be enough traffic calming and diversion elements already in place to prohibit the high volume and speed of motor vehicles in the first place. But that’s another story…

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  • Jerry February 13, 2013 at 10:37 am

    I ride that stretch of N. Williams. It is already a pretty quiet and slow street. It is too bad that the cross traffic won’t be slowing down, or stopping for stop signs more frequently. Give me an inch and I’ll want a mile.

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  • todd February 13, 2013 at 10:52 am

    They’re installing them in concentric waves outward from your house, Jonathan, for maximum media impact. 🙂

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  • K'Tesh February 13, 2013 at 11:04 am

    It would be nice to see the police do a little soundbite on the news reminding drivers that speed limits are maximums and not minimums.

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  • Andyc of Linnton February 13, 2013 at 11:14 am

    I spotted the new signs on N. Houghton street the other day. Good to see.
    There’s also a new diverter on N. Central in St. John’s that is pretty great.

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    • Brian February 13, 2013 at 12:41 pm

      I hate that diverter, almost no cars stop at that intersection anymore. I have complained to the city to have it taken out. Do you know what purpose it serves? At first I thought it was a great idea and wanted one on my street. . .

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      • ScottB February 13, 2013 at 1:20 pm

        “N Central in St Johns” is pretty vague. how about an intersection. All the N Central Stuff was completed last year.

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        • Brian February 13, 2013 at 4:12 pm

          N Central & N Tyler

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  • grimm February 13, 2013 at 11:15 am

    They’ve been in Overlook for over a week, maybe even two. Already in Arbor Lodge too.

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  • Rob February 13, 2013 at 11:41 am

    Speed limit signs are great. Any chance the city could do something about all the 4-way no-way intersections (intersections w/out stop signs) throughout Northeast and North Portland (and probably other parts)? Those seem way more dangerous than speed, with the same cost to fix.

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    • ScottB February 13, 2013 at 1:21 pm

      They’re so dangerous, they’re safe. Why spend money for no crashes?

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    • Oliver February 13, 2013 at 3:04 pm

      I like uncontrolled intersections. They tell everyone to assume a safe speed and be conscious of ROW.

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      • Bill Stites February 13, 2013 at 4:45 pm

        Oliver says:
        “I like uncontrolled intersections. They tell everyone to assume a safe speed and be conscious of ROW.”
        I agree with this statement for those who know the area, but for newcomers and visitors, they are outright dangerous.
        This strikes me as another instance of multiple entrants to an intersection thinking they have ROW [just as the example from the other day of “right turn permitted without stopping” at a given stop sign].

        There is that point of empirical data – perhaps not too many crashes at uncontrolled intersections – but the past does not predict the future …
        What do you think about this ambiguity, ScottB? I appreciate that it often works in European contexts, but here??

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        • are February 13, 2013 at 10:21 pm

          an out of towner skulking through neighborhood streets will probably be even more cautious. if the past does not predict the future, what does?

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        • was carless February 15, 2013 at 8:57 am

          Maybe they should have 4 signs that say “uncontrolled intersection” at every uncontrolled intersection?

          That would save a ton of money on stop signage.

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  • Steve B February 13, 2013 at 12:03 pm

    Thanks PBOT!

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  • Dmitriy Zasyatkin February 13, 2013 at 12:46 pm

    Why are they replacing the entire sign when they could just glue a 0 over the 5? That seems like a lot more environmentally sound solution since these signs will probably be downcycled at best.

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    • ScottB February 13, 2013 at 1:23 pm

      You can’t paste in LIMIT as required now by ODOT.

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    • Adam February 13, 2013 at 2:56 pm

      Also – I may be totally wrong, but I believe a lot of the quieter side streets don’t have a lot of speed signage in the first place to upgrade.

      I don’t know that this project is replacing pre-existing signage so much, as installing new lower speed signage on many of these streets for the first time. But don’t quote me on that!

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  • deborah February 13, 2013 at 1:16 pm

    So happy these are finally going in! It’s true that it’s only one step in the grand plan of livable streets plan, but it’s a big one! Thanks PBOT!

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  • Indy February 13, 2013 at 2:56 pm

    OK, as usual, I’ll be the odd one out:

    This is dumb.

    This is as dumb as all the other strange crap this city does in terms of “unique” transportation design.

    The government of Oregon, or Federally, just needs to change the laws to say: Speed limit is 20 in residential zones.

    And that is it. And pull the 25-mph limit signs. And 20 mph signs.

    Because it should JUST BE A GIVEN that we reduce our car speed in high-risk areas to safe speeds. Make it a mandatory “You must answer correctly” part of drivers tests.

    Just make “No signs up means 20 mph. Assume that for the rest of your life.”

    Well, why is not putting up a sign better than putting up a sign?

    Putting up a sign in Portland encourages people in Gresham to go 25 in their residential zones.

    Putting up a sign in random locations adds confusion. Just change the freaking residential law to 20 mph, and stop wasting money on visually polluting signs.

    The end.

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    • are February 13, 2013 at 10:23 pm

      and fifteen in school zones. of course you are right, twenty across the board, no signs, but try to get that through salem.

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    • Tad February 14, 2013 at 12:36 pm

      Passing this through the OR legislature will take years, and Congress will take decades. Installing this helps our community now and doesn’t preclude those actions in the future.

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    • Adam H. February 14, 2013 at 12:47 pm

      This is true in Chicago, although the assumed speed limit is 30 MPH. There are very few speed limit signs in the city proper, and state law dictates that no posted limit means 30 MPH.

      Of course, no one actually drives under the speed limit unless there is heavy traffic (which is quite common on major streets). Street design trumps posted signs every time.

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  • Bill February 13, 2013 at 4:12 pm

    They are up on Maplewood in SW. And, the street-widening is in process!

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  • Jene-Paul February 14, 2013 at 4:35 pm

    Woo-hoo, indeed!

    Our tiny town of Big Timber, Montana has an uposted 20 MPH limit off the highway. Instead of speedbumps (“traffic calming devices”), the long winters keep a lot of roadway surface cratered. Children ride right up the middle of the main street downtown all the time (well, not in the snow—maybe I’m the only guy in town with studs for the Kona). Most intersections are uncontrolled and people pass with plenty of room and wave. There is no bike-specific infrastructure but it’s hella safer than the Springwater during rush hour!

    Mountains and expansive hills are visible at the horizon of each street, looking all four ways from intersections downtown. I absolutely love it here. But I miss Portland too! Glad for yer 20 MPH progress.

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