City preps to cut speed limit on four mid-sized streets

Posted by on February 4th, 2015 at 4:57 pm

First look at NE Multnomah project-4

Slower.
(Photo by J. Maus/BikePortland)

The Portland Bureau of Transportation is ordering slower traffic speeds on four streets, three of which have recently been redesigned to be more neighborhood-friendly.

The four are Southwest Vermont Street from Capitol Highway to SW 45th near Gabriel Park, which will go from 35 to 30 mph; SW Multnomah Boulevard from Interstate 5 to SW 31st, going from 45 to 35 mph; NE Glisan Street from 27th to 79th, going from 35 to 30 mph; and NE/SE 47th Avenue from NE Tillamook to SE Oak, going from 30 to 25 mph.

All four streets have bike lanes for some or all of those segments.

PBOT spokeswoman Diane Dulken said Wednesday that the Vermont project had been triggered by a recent sidewalk infill project. Multnomah was redesigned in 2014 to add raised bike lanes for a few blocks. Part of Glisan was restriped in 2014 to remove passing lanes and add street parking and a crosswalk refuge.

“When we do a project, whether it’s a road reconfiguration or a sidewalk infill project or some other project, then part of that work, part of what we do is we evaluate speed, whether those speeds are appropriate for the new design or the improvements that are going in,” Dulken said. “We then put in the recommendation to ODOT and go through that process.”

The speed limit changes are already complete on 47th and Glisan, both of which were marked with the new speeds late last month. Dulken said Vermont’s change is likely to take effect “early this year” and Multnomah’s is “planned for this year.”

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We previously mentioned the Glisan speed limit change on Tuesday in a post that also called attention to a new character in the bike lane there.

Beneath that post, BikePortland reader Cory Poole wrote about the effect of the recent change on 47th to his family’s neighborhood.

“I live on 47th between burnside and stark,” wrote Poole. “The city reduced the speed limit to 25 and we have noticed a HUGE difference in traffic speed. Before it was routine to see cars go by at 40 mph. This on a road that is used heavily by bicycles and has no shoulder or bike lane. Thanks to whoever made this happen!”

Correction 2/5: A previous version of this story referred to a different quadrant of Multnomah. The one discussed here is in Southwest.

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gutterbunnybikes
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gutterbunnybikes

Good new… now how about the most of the rest of the streets?

rick
Guest
rick

SW Vermont Street lacks sidewalks and bike lanes for over 80 % of the distance between SW 45th Ave and the city limit. It is a busy road.

Peter Koonce
Guest
Peter Koonce

There must be some error in this “NE Multnomah Street from Interstate 5 to NE 31st, going from 45 to 35 mph;” did you mean SW? Even SW Multnomah is 35 MPH at SW 40th eastbound.

Kiel Johnson (Go By Bike)
Guest
kiel johnson

if the speed limit on multnomah is 45 right now they had better change it fast!

Michael, BikePortland
Guest

Thanks, guys. I asked Dulken to clarify and she said it was NE Multnomah, but I suspect she was mistaken. I’ll nail this down.

Craig Harlow
Guest
Craig Harlow

Michael, since you’ve corrected the story, you might also want to replace your lead photo.

I got my hopes up when I saw that, because I’ve been asking the city to reduce the posted speed on Northeast Multnomah Street from 25 to 20 since the road diet was introduced in 2013. That would put it line with Oregon’s “Speed Zone Standards” for a business district, which is what this street is tranforming into with the Hassalo project and mall redesign, both of which will put more store fronts into the streetscape.

http://www.oregon.gov/odot/hwy/traffic-roadway/pages/speed_zone_program.aspx

rick
Guest
rick

SW Vermont Street is changing to 30 mph from SW 30th Ave to the city limit which is very close to SW Oleson Road in Washington County.

The change will go past SW 45th Ave which is near Gabriel Park.

David Carlsson
Guest
David Carlsson

I’m curious why Vermont is lowered to 30 mph while 45 mph signs were just unveiled on SW Multnomah westbound east of 30th. 45 is too fast on that section.

Adam H.
Guest
Adam H.

This is great news. Only bad thing is they’ll likely be the MUTCD SPEED LIMIT signs and not the old Oregon standard SPEED signs.

Kyle
Guest
Kyle

Yeah! I thought I was the only one who missed the old signs. 🙂

There’s an even older sign somewhere near SE 20th between Division and Hawthorne that says “SPEED 20 MILES.”

rick
Guest
rick

Kyle Chisek from PBOT said the SW Vermont Street signs will be “SPEED 30” signs.

q`Tzal
Guest
q`Tzal

Any plans to enforce the new speed limit and not the old 85th percentile speed?

I mean REAL plans to educate the public through lots of warning tickets followed up by actual negative consequences for repeat offenders?

The current speed enforcement policy seems to be “don’t bother until someone important dies” so changing signs will achieve nothing by itself.

Suburban
Guest
Suburban

No.

paikiala
Guest
paikiala

The protocol with PPB is to ticket at 10 mph over posted. The Mayor is in charge of PPB.

q`Tzal
Guest
q`Tzal

Beginning to think that instead of starting at 10 mph we need to start at 1 mph over but the fine is $5×(2^(how many mph over posted speed)) .
1 mph over = $10
5 mph over = $160
6 mph over = $320
8 mph over = $1280
10 mph over = $5120

Sure the fine amounts get out of control fast but so do fatalities; why not an exponential indexing fine structure?

Jim Labbe
Guest
Jim Labbe

Thanks for reporting this good news. As significant as it may be for the people who walk and bike on the streets mentioned, it all seems like a pretty small and timid from a City-scale. I am assuming the City has the authority to reduce speeds further and on many more streets. Why not do this more and on more streets, a lot more?

Brad
Guest
Brad

Time for 25mph max on all city streets!

Adam H.
Guest
Adam H.

I would love a 25 mph MAX train on all city streets. 😉

davemess
Guest
davemess

People need to request them. I think the city is operating under the “if it isn’t broke don’t fix it routine”. Until people tell them that there is a problem, there really isn’t a lot of impetus to do so.

jeff
Guest
jeff

If SE Clinton were a petri dish for such change, not much will change at all in terms of how fast people drive on those roads.

Aaron
Guest
Aaron

Not necessarily. These streets are motorized arterials that carry rush hour car traffic; the situation is very different. They’re filled with everyday drivers, whereas Clinton is a magnet for drivers who are in a rush. The setup basically filters out drivers on autopilot, leaving Clinton to drivers who are motivated to find a quicker way. Even a 20mph limit wouldn’t fix that, so Clinton needs diverters.

My own experience is with NE Glisan. I’m excited to see if the street calms down.

davemess
Guest
davemess

It can’t be stressed enough that this has to go through ODOT and they have final say.

Two add two more to the list, we recently had PBOT approved speed limit reduction recommendation for TWO streets in our neighborhood (both signed 35 right now). Both will be recommended to 30mph.
SE Duke- between 52nd and 82nd
SE Flavel- between 52nd and 92nd

PBOT will work for you if you push them and show them that people want these changes.

Terry D-M
Guest
Terry D-M

Excellent work. These streets have similar configurations to Glisan. It is all about narrowing to one lane.

davemess
Guest
davemess

well they both are already one lane.

paikiala
Guest
paikiala

“Portland Bureau of Transportation is ordering slower traffic speeds on four streets” should say ‘requesting’. ODOT sets all speed limits in Oregon. There is an appeal if the ODOT study recommends against the request, via the State Speed Control Board.
Other streets in the future will also be lowered. Mostly smaller ones east of 82nd.
BTW, ODOT speed studies can take up to a year.

davemess
Guest
davemess

Oh I was warned about the long wait time.

TonyT
Guest
Tony T

Having been told by someone at PBOT, that the cops won’t even cite until the drivers are doing “11-14 mph over the limit”, I remain VERY skeptical of the traffic division’s commitment to do anything of substance. They might make a show of doing a couple of enforcements right after the change, but it’ll go back to business as usual.

On our 20mph street (that despite many requests, has gotten NO speed enforcement in at least the last 4 years), that means you have to be doing 50% over the limit before you’ll be ticketed.

Until the traffic division is willing to do real and ongoing enforcement, this is just PR.

That tolerance of speeding on my street takes the potential fatality rate for pedestrians from 5% to 37%.

Here’s a reference http://humantransport.org/sidewalks/SpeedKills.htm

q`Tzal
Guest
q`Tzal

I want residential and business communities to be allowed to purchase/lease mobile speed cameras.

Yes a human officer is still required by Oregon law to be in the loop but this is a perfect disabled or desk work job for currently employed traffic police and part time hobby for retired officers that can reasonably be a telecommuting task from the recliner at home.
Pause the game, review the last violation alert on your big screen TV, approve or reject the automated system’s judgment then unpause the DVR.

Heck, you could run every single camera ticket video clip by 5 or more officers and only approve the ticket if 66% or more agree.

Other than removing the legal requirement for a human the biggest problem is including payment for the human in the original purchase/lease agreement.

paikiala
Guest
paikiala

a. a retired officer would not qualify.
b. the van has to be manned and can only be in one place for 2 hours.

On the bright side, fixed speed cameras are a lobbying request.

q`Tzal
Guest
q`Tzal

A: why?
B: why?

I’m not saying you’re wrong, I’m just looking for a way to do this that, if absolutely necessary, still includes a human but doesn’t require that they sit there in a van.
If the law says that an active traffic officer must physically be on site babysitting a camera ticketing device then it is little wonder that we have so few. Why have a fixed officer when one in a cruiser can chase people down?

An active duty police officer is a high value asset; perhaps too valuable to tie down in a fixed location where they can’t issue tickets. We need to find a way to make the human component of Oregon’s camers ticketing drivers more

q`Tzal
Guest
q`Tzal

… more affordable.

davemess
Guest
davemess

At the same time, I welcome it. At least it is there, and it’s better than doing nothing (and it’s definitely not making the problem worse).

I do share you frustration though, as PBOT basically told me the same thing last year. I think they added “If we were to change the speed limit without anything else, we’ve seen that people still just go the same speed. Then more people would be breaking the law.”. That last part I thought was weird. Like people had absolutely no control over whether they were breaking the law or not.

Scott Kocher
Guest

Time to dust off the citizen enforcement statute.

Chris I
Guest
Chris I

Excellent. Keep em’ coming! NE Halsey badly needs a diet and lower speed limits east of 47th.

Terry D-M
Guest
Terry D-M

Can’it help you between 47th and 67th, but between 67th and 74th North Tabor and Montavilla NA’s endorsed a road diet with bike lanes. E-MAILS were sent, “promises,” with caveates of course, were made…and we will keep pushing And help to make this happen in any way PBOT needs. The mile in Rose City Park, that NA recomended to the city to keep the current four lanes.

paikiala
Guest
paikiala

PBOT has a committee forming to review roads that might qualify and implement diets.

invisiblebikes
Guest
invisiblebikes

My theory is that speed limit signs no matter how big or how bright don’t work because drivers just don’t see them!
Most drivers are (if not distracted as usual) typically looking straight ahead and not scanning the sides of the road for signs.

I think a big push for change in how road safety is communicated with drivers should be at the forefront of advocacy right now!
1) just like the Kermit and bike boxes alerts drivers to be more aware and know they are crossing a bike lane, ODOT and PBOT need to start painting posted speeds on the road in each lane!
2) there should be a big painted (on each lane) notice when a speed limit changes or reduces ahead… even statements of “safe driving zone slow to 25 mph”

Communication is the key to almost anything in life and we really need to change how drivers perceive their surroundings!

I’ve started a hashtag on twitter called #fixthedrivers please use it or coin a new one and use both and lets start a social ground swell

Pete
Guest
Pete

I hear my song being sung! Yes, firm believer that signs are invisible, and painting the speed limit on the roadway is more likely to be noticed (in lighter traffic).

Not sure about speed camera adoption (there are powerful forces against them, including AAA and NMA, and decommissioning is more popular for red light cams these days), but speed radar technology has come a long way since the days of parking a van or trailer housing large power-hungry units. It should be feasible to use signs that flash the driver’s speed when they exceed the speed limits (posted on a sign below).

Technology is already there in connected cars that know the speed limits where you are and warn you when you exceed them. A few months back I had a Mercedes C-Class sedan as rental and it warned me whenever I was over the speed limit while navigating through Atlanta suburbs. (The limit seemed to vacillate between 45 and 35 between communities and I never really noticed seeing signs).

Eric
Guest
Eric

I would love to see a demonstration project with chalk on the road and a week of before/after speed measurements. Question is whether you would get the city’s blessing or wrath (for the “vandalism”.)

Terry D-M
Guest
Terry D-M

.The speed reduction on 47th is something the Transportation Working Group of the hospital requested ages ago. It is a sub-set group of the good neighbor agreement from the local na’s and the hospital. We have been requesting speed reductions around the hospital for a long time. I would credit the chair of that group for this…I will let him know that all you approve….and thank you PBOT.

Dave
Guest
Dave

Jim Labbe
Thanks for reporting this good news. As significant as it may be for the people who walk and bike on the streets mentioned, it all seems like a pretty small and timid from a City-scale. I am assuming the City has the authority to reduce speeds further and on many more streets. Why not do this more and on more streets, a lot more?
Recommended 1

It’s not good news yet–not until there is real enforcement and fines that really, really hurt drivers to have to pay.

Dan
Guest
Dan

Would it be possible to reduce speed limits by changing policy at a national level? Could we require states to enforce speed limits at the posted rate, instead of guessing at how much leeway there is supposed to be?

Jeff M
Guest
Jeff M

On SW Multnomah, I was surprised to see the 30mph sign replaced with a 45 heading west from Barbur. I thought it interesting when I drove it yesterday and traffic was at 35mph, anyway.

ChicagoSchwinn
Guest
ChicagoSchwinn

Does anyone have any information on speed limit changes for SE 52nd between Powell and Division. This is an excellent connecting street for the Portland bike route structure but the car traffic speeds are sometimes well over 40mph (I think some surveys show overage of 36). With the new high school being built there it may be a great time to reevaluate the speeds there, thoughts?