The Worst Day of the Year Ride is February 11th

Oregon lawmakers try (again) to raise speed limits

Posted by on March 31st, 2015 at 4:32 pm

SW Portland bikeways-3

It might get faster down there.
(Photo J. Maus/BikePortland)

Despite a clear connection between speed and fatal and serious injury crashes, ten Oregon lawmakers are sponsoring a bill that would raise our state’s freeway speed limit to 75 miles per hour.

According to the text of House Bill 3094, it would increase the speed limit from 65 to 75 miles per hour on interstate highways (only for cars, large trucks and buses will stay at their current max of 55 mph). The bill also establishes a maximum speed limit of 65 miles per hour on state highways and limits the Department of Transportation’s authority to decrease freeway speed limits, except in work zones.

Currently, Oregon is one of just 13 states that have a 65 mph speed limit on interstate highways. 12 states have a 75 mph limit, three have set 80 as their top speed, and Texans are allowed to go 85.

I reached out to this bill’s sponsors (all 10 of which are Republican) to ask them their reason for supporting it and to ask whether or not they were concerned about its safety impacts. So far, only one of them has replied.

Rep. Mike Nearman from Dallas, Oregon responded via email. “The highways were designed for higher speeds,” he wrote in response to my first question, “And other large western states have higher speed limits.” As for safety, he wrote, “I am concerned about the safety impact of higher speeds. Any speed limit is a trade off between safety and efficiency.”

That efficiency argument was also used in 2011 when another Republican-led effort to raise highway speed limits was put forward in the Oregon Legislature. Back then, Hillsboro Senator Bruce Starr said, “By modernizing our speed limit we can increase the flow of traffic, lower commute times and fast track commerce through the state.”

Starr’s bill didn’t survive, but that doesn’t seem to have killed the idea.

Freeways have been getting faster for decades now. According to the Insurance Institute of Highway Safety, Congress mandated a 55 mph maximum speed in the 1970s, but the law was repealed in 1995.

The Bicycle Transportation Alliance hasn’t issued any formal comments on this bill, but Advocacy Director Gerik Kranksy said via Twitter that if the bill passed, it could increase the probability of fatalities on ODOT roads by 12 percent.

From where we sit, it’s interesting to see a state flirt with a commitment to Vision Zero and other life-saving measures, while we also consider increasing one key factor that leads to so many deaths.

We’ll find out how this new attempt goes later this week. HB 3094 is set for a public hearing in front of the House Committee on Transportation and Economic Development on April 3rd.

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187 Comments
  • Gerik March 31, 2015 at 4:36 pm

    This bill could increase the risk of fatalities on Oregon’s roads by 12%. http://www.cga.ct.gov/2013/rpt/2013-R-0074.htm

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    • J_R March 31, 2015 at 5:37 pm

      I think you are misreading the study. The increased fatalities are only for those roads on which the speed limit is raised. The rate may increase by 12 percent on the Interstate’s, but that does not necessarily translate into an increase in total Oregon fatalities by 12 percent.

      Don’t get me wrong because I’m against a blanket increase in speed limits for Oregon’s Interstates, but I think you need to be careful about your statements.

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      • gutterbunnybikes April 1, 2015 at 5:18 pm

        A few years back for a job as a driver my employers insurance company mandated that we all had to take a defensive driving class.

        Granted it was about 15 years ago, but the stat that was tossed around then was that the odds of an automobile collision being fatal on a highway doubled for every MPH you drove over 55 MPH.

        So if at 55 MPH you had a 1% chance, 56 would be 2%, 57 4%, 58 8%.<<<<this is just an example, the odds at 55 mph in a car collision is lower than 1%- though I couldn't tell you what it is.

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  • Scott March 31, 2015 at 4:43 pm

    Increasing the speed limit will “lower commute times”??? ROFLMAO!! If you believe that, I’ve got a bridge I’d like to sell you.

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    • Pete March 31, 2015 at 7:04 pm

      You beat me to it. When I drive between OR and CA people generally do 70-75 in the 65 on I-5 there and then 80 in the 70 down in Cali. Maybe it’s my imagination but this “10 over” mindset just seems ingrained in our society.

      But in reality that’s only when there’s light traffic, and speeds seem to reduce pretty dramatically with only a little bit of congestion. If you totally oversimplify and assume the 308 miles from CA border to WA border is 65 MPH and you could maintain that as an average, you’d save a little over a half-hour by raising the speed limit to 75 MPH, and you’d burn more gas and pollute more. Further, I’d be very surprised if the OSP or LEO in general would support this, as most officers knows this makes their jobs even more dangerous than they already are.

      Don’t get me wrong, as someone who drives long distances I’m no angel with speed limits on open interstates, but I just don’t see the reasons given as convincing enough to even spend money on new signs let alone increase risk to the lives of highway patrollers.

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    • Chris I April 1, 2015 at 6:31 am

      This might be true for someone with a long, rural commute, say from Roseburg to Salem or La Grande to Pendleton. Around any city, however, this will make no difference. Folks will just be zooming up that much faster to the stop and go gridlock ahead of them.

      Also, this bill reminds me of this Simpsons moment:

      Mrs. Blumenstein: This year’s topic is “Resolved: The national speed limit should be lowered to 55 miles per hour.”
      Homer Simpson: 55? That’s ridiculous! Sure, it’ll save a few lives, but millions will be late! ”

      At least these lawmakers are in good company.

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      • Pete April 1, 2015 at 9:33 am

        Salem to Roseburg is 134 miles. If you idealize that you can maintain the speed limit over that entire duration, you’d shave ~17 minutes off a two hour drive. Driving that stretch with the cruise control set to 70 MPH, which I often do, theoretically saves me <10 minutes. I wouldn't vote for this bill though, even if it legalizes my illegal speeding behavior.

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        • Rick April 1, 2015 at 9:39 am

          that stretch has big mountain passes

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          • Pete April 1, 2015 at 12:20 pm

            Exactly (my point with “idealized”). I got stranded when I-5 shut down on my way north when a trucker jacknifed in those passes (during that cold snap that took out SRAM’s hydraulic brakes at the CX Nats over in Bend). Managed to bribe a manager at Wolf Creek Inn to let me smuggle my two little dogs in and sleep in Jack London’s bed. Fun to reflect on but wasn’t at that time!

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    • Randall S. April 1, 2015 at 11:27 am

      No, see, it’s true. Since most people commute at times when there are few people on the road, they will be able to travel faster. All those times I mistakenly got on the I5 heading North at 5pm, only to spend 45 minutes driving 3 miles were anomalies, and not the way the highway is every day. Also all the times I took the 26 downtown at 5, and saw it backed up from Beaverton to the Rose Quarter. And the mornings.

      All anomalies!

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    • Barney April 1, 2015 at 5:34 pm

      Commute times in the city, not necessarily, but travel times on the Interstate, definitely! I don’t think that the bill is recommending a 75 mph speed limit on the 405 or other roads in the densely populated areas, just on roads where that speed can be safe to travel.
      In Utah for example, since the national speed limit of 55 mph was repealed it has progressed from 55 to 65 mph, then 75 mph in some areas and now 80 mph for hundreds of miles of I-15, I-70 and I-84. Traffic fatalities have not increased with the speed limit increase and interestingly the average speed of traffic has not increased in those sections where the limit was raised from 75 mph to 80 mph. It’s all about where the set speed is appropriate.
      As much as most Oregonians pat themselves on the back under their delusions of superiority (which is actually closer to conceit) Utahns at least, seem able to handle the freedom the state has given them on these roads at least. But maybe you are right and Oregonians can’t handle it. That’s kind of sad for such an enlightened populace.

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      • 9watts April 1, 2015 at 5:36 pm

        “Utahns at least, seem able to handle the freedom the state has given them on these roads at least.”

        The freedom to waste fuel? I’m not really seeing the point.

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        • Barney April 1, 2015 at 8:39 pm

          We do have the right to be inefficient if we choose to be, to waste time, money, beer, and yes even fuel. If we can justify the fuel cost to be worth the time savings, then yes, by all means if it can be done safely as has been demonstrated in Utah.

          Being able to “handle the freedom” implied that it was safe to do so, at least statistically. Time and fuel are both valuable and finite. We must each judge which is the more important to each of us. If we consume more of one then we may have less of the other. We should each be able to make that calculation for ourselves.

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          • Dan April 2, 2015 at 10:52 am

            Driving is the most heavily subsidized activity I can think of.

            You’re not wasting YOUR resources, you’re wasting EVERYONE’s resources, and doing untold damage while you’re at it. But, by all means, waste away.

            https://www.youtube.com/watch?t=290&v=6RhYY_4Wzls

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          • 9watts April 4, 2015 at 8:27 am

            “We do have the right to be inefficient if we choose to be, to waste time, money, beer, and yes even fuel. If we can justify the fuel cost to be worth the time savings, then yes, by all means”

            That is one selfish, entitled philosophy you’re espousing, there, Barney. Living together on this planet requires that we take account of the fact that my action may impinge on you, and vice versa. We can’t all just do as we damned well please. I am aware that some people, especially in this country, hold a different view, that sounds like what you wrote, and sometimes goes by the name libertarian. But what arbiter do two libertarians appeal to when they disagree? When time savings for the automobile-piloting libertarian means reduced life prospects for the bicycle-riding libertarian’s children.

            http://www.quora.com/Why-do-libertarians-so-often-deny-climate-change-What-is-it-about-their-political-philosophy-that-would-have-them-reject-an-entire-scientific-discipline
            “So, ultimately, Libertarians would rather let the world burn, than give government regulation a visibly useful role to play in solving the problem.”

            How did our oil get under their sand?

            Après moi, le déluge!

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  • Jackie March 31, 2015 at 4:44 pm

    Gerik
    This bill could increase the risk of fatalities on Oregon’s roads by 12%.

    There’s a certainty of fatalities. It will increase the death-toll by 12%

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    • mee too April 1, 2015 at 8:13 pm

      A bogus claim not backed up by reality! This bogus BS claim of a 12 % increase in fatalities is not backed up by any real DOT collected data on raising the posted maximums to proper engineering and science based maximums on by design high speed freeways! In every case which these engineering standards have been used travel has become safer(the death rate has gone down to record levels in the history of driving per miles traveled!!!!) with higher more appropriate maximums posted. Safety is imp[roved by posted limits which match the safe, comfortable, engineering and speed data(85th percentile speed) speeds…

      Interstates account for less than 3 % of fatalities and are the safest by design highways ever conceived of or built! The real cause of crashes have been removed by design from our by design high speed freeways.

      The real safety issues which lead to crashes and deaths are not even on interstates. On our freeway system by design do not have intersections, opposing traffic, roadside hazards, and sharp curves. Places not under consideration for higher limits but again and again like this bogus claim are used to make claims of carnage if the freeways limits are raised!

      FACT!- Oregon’s rural interstate fatality rate was 0.35 —

      FAR LOWER than the 2.26 deaths per 100-million travel miles across all rural roads in 2012.

      To summarize the dilemma related to speed limit changes, perceptions and expectation simply don’t match with the results.

      People worry that vehicles/drivers will increase travel speeds by the amount of the speed limit increase.

      The best research solidly refutes this assertion, and in the hundreds of the road segments where Michigan increased the speed limit up to 15 miles per hour, traffic travel speeds never increased significantly.

      Travel speeds are made more CONSISTENT across the board, which is why crashes are normally reduced, and the crashes that do occur, do NOT tend to involve higher speeds than they did prior to the speed limit increase. The result is INCREASED SAFETY.

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  • Paul Wilkins March 31, 2015 at 4:49 pm

    This idea has the consequence of pushing older, less modern vehicles off the road, which may or may not be good for safety. An air-cooled VW has a lot of trouble doing 75 MPH, for instance. But air-cooled veedubs are not as safe as my 2015 Mazder, even at 55.

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    • kittens April 1, 2015 at 3:25 am

      Even fairly new cars, say 15 years old, are not particularly stable at 65+. All it takes is a bit of a tire imbalance or slightly worn suspension or steering and you are basically asking for trouble. The US vehicle fleet is the oldest it has ever been. There are many cars from the early and mid 90s which are providing transportation to those who can not afford more.

      I know this because for years I drove a 20-year-old car and it was not fun above 55.

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  • Spiffy March 31, 2015 at 5:03 pm

    these bill sponsors think it’s ok to kill a few people as long as more people can get to work 5 minutes earlier…

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    • Pete March 31, 2015 at 7:06 pm

      Which is hilarious because they won’t.

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    • Jack March 31, 2015 at 7:55 pm

      A 5 minute reduction in commute time based on increasing driving speed from an average of 65 mph to 75 mph implies a 40+ mile commute.

      Realistically, anyone who commutes on the Interstate is not spending 100% of their commute on said Interstate, so let’s go with a conservative 45 mile actual commute distance.

      If the goal is efficiency, maybe we should be talking about solutions for the problem that is people commuting 45+ miles to and from work each day.

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      • Dan March 31, 2015 at 7:58 pm

        What we really mean is from 75mph to 85mph.

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    • Tait March 31, 2015 at 9:23 pm

      Commuters aren’t the only road users. For a 600mi drive down to California or 400mi drive to Ontario, an extra 10mph cuts an hour or more off the driving time, which is significant. (And would be also, to commercial freight and shipping, if it applied to them.)

      There is a tradeoff, so just saying “always choose the lower speed” isn’t a feasible answer. Why not make the interstate limit 45? 35? At 35mph, most car accidents at least are nonlethal, and survivability for non-car crashes is significantly better than even 45, much less anything higher. At 25, we’d even have survivability for a significant fraction of car-to-non-car accidents. I mean, when lives are at stake, what right has anyone to complain about their Tualatin to downtown Portland commute taking 1.5hrs? I’m exaggerating for effect, but as a serious question, what rate of fatality is acceptable?

      I think the focus on fatality is actually slightly misplaced. It’s a secondary factor, but the primary concern should be accident rate, not accident lethality. And the effect on accident _rates_ of a 65->75mph limit change is fairly small. If we could get the accident rate down, then the increased lethality might be more than offset, resulting in overall fewer lives lost.

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      • Karl Dickman March 31, 2015 at 11:14 pm

        There’s a pretty simple framework for asking this kind of question. Just assign a dollar value to a life saved, and a dollar value to the time spent driving from Tualatin to Portland. See which one is greater.

        A common value of a statistical life is $9.1 million. Approximately 15,000 working-age adults live in Tualatin; let us assume arguendo that a third of them, 5,000 work in downtown Portland. This gives you a $1,820 “budget” of speed reduction to work with per life saved–any speed reduction that imposes a cost of less than $1,820 per life saved per commuter is “worth it” in this analysis. Let’s assume that people’s time is “worth” $15 hour, so we can delay them by no more than 120 hours a year per life saved. This is about 29 minutes of extra commute per day. Without traffic, Google estimates 34 minutes to cover the 25 mile round trip commute. 25 miles in 63 minutes is almost exactly 25 mph.

        So the short answer is that, yes, depending on what assumptions you make about how much a life is worth and how much people’s time is worth, lowering the speed limit on I-5 to 25 mph could very well be a net positive if it saves even one life per year.

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        • Tait April 2, 2015 at 3:26 pm

          This is a terrible medium in which to try to discuss complex issues, because complex discussions take time, and everything about an article-comment-thread is time-constrained since the thread dies a day or two after posting, as new content replaces it.

          Using the $10M-for-a-life model, the obvious answer is to close I-5 entirely. No traffic at all means no fatalities, plus we get the economic benefit of not having to maintain it. However, people will choose alternatives, so as I-5 commute time increases (or stops to be an option entirely, if it were closed), more traffic leaves I-5 and takes other surface streets, increasing conflicts on those streets, which are less mode-specific (read: car-specific) than interstates. That means more conflict and more people in channels that have a higher per-user accident rate than do interstates.

          If we try to apply the $10M-for-a-life model elsewhere, we find similar discontinuities. If one pedestrian killed crossing a road at night really “cost” $10M, we’d have over- and under-passes at every intersection rather than risk mode-mixing. Automobile liability insurance minimums would be $40M rather than $30k. We’d have unbreakable transparent material fully enclosing any walkway from which someone might fall or jump to their death. Even if we wanted, we can’t have all these things. The economics of $10M-for-a-life don’t scale. So I don’t think that’s a good framework for making broad decisions about transportation policy that will affect lots of people, either.

          I’m not sure what the right framework is; I feel like I don’t have the data I’d want to make a decision on speed limits, and I’m not sure anybody has it because there’s so many pieces involved.

          From other comments it this thread, it sounds like some people would like to just eliminate the phenomenon of commuting longer distances and participating regularly in activities more than a few miles away from one’s home. That’s a profound alteration to how society and the economy work today, and its scope is far beyond just a speed limit. For reasons that would take a longish essay to explain, it’s not a vision I embrace.

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          • Karl Dickman April 3, 2015 at 9:14 pm

            Tait, $9.1 million may be a lot of money, but it’s not infinite. This framework is meant to quickly estimate what kinds of traffic solutions are economical and what are not.

            Let’s take your example of “over- and under-passes at every intersection” and put some numbers to it as an example. In all of Multnomah County in 2013, 13 pedestrians died in traffic. I estimate that Portland has between 2,500 and 25,000 intersections, and a pedestrian overpass costs $1.5 million to build. Even at the low end of this estimate, building an overpass at every intersection would cost between $3.75 billion, or $288 million per life saved. Even amortized over 30 years for $9.6 million per life saved, overpasses everywhere is still not economical.

            So you see, it’s not at all a foregone conclusion that this approach justifies any safety idea you could dream up.

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            • Tait April 4, 2015 at 12:31 am

              I agree; it’s far from infinite and I was a little loose with my language (using “every”) but the point remains that 13 deaths ought to imply a pedestrian traffic mitigation budget in the neighborhood of $100M, yet the entire county road budget is only half that, and I don’t know about pedestrian projects, but the bicycle path fund is a mere 1/100th of the road budget. A $9M life justifies a pedestrian overpass with $7M+ to spare, and yet there are not that many pedestrian overpasses.

              To adopt a realistic approach to planning, we need to get more fatality reduction per transportation-project dollar than one per $9M, and we should assess the impact of policy changes using an exchange rate that’s more commensurate with whatever rate that is.

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              • Karl Dickman April 4, 2015 at 6:30 am

                “A $9M life justifies a pedestrian overpass with $7M+ to spare, and yet there are not that many pedestrian overpasses.”
                Be careful. When you’re comparing a one-time construction cost to a fatality rate, you need to convert fatality rates to present value. 1 fatality/year over 30 years at a discount rate of 3% is 20 fatalities in present value. So the overpass is only justified for intersections with 0.3 fatalities/year, and I don’t think there is even a single intersection in Portland with a fatality rate that high.

                Secondly, it justifies a pedestrian overpass *only* if the overpass is the cheapest alternative in terms of overall cost. Speed enforcement or lowered speed limits are probably both cheaper than building overpasses. Speed enforcement requires police time and court fees, both of which cost money. Lower speed limits make everyone’s trips take longer, and that is a cost as well.

                Example: Lowering the speed limit on Powell from 35 to 30 for half a mile in either direction around a particularly dangerous intersection would impose a delay of 17 seconds on people travelling that stretch. Powell carries 50,000 cars/day, so that’s a total burden of 238 person-hours/day, or 74,256 person-hours/year. Going with $15/hour again, that speed reduction would impose only $1.1 million in delays versus $1.5 million to build an overpass.

                “13 deaths ought to imply a pedestrian traffic mitigation budget in the neighborhood of $100M.”
                It doesn’t imply that at all. In the speed reduction on Powell example, the up-front cost of lowering the speed limit is a tiny fraction of the overall cost imposed by the speed reduction. Almost all of the fatality mitigation is being payed by people suffering longer commutes, not coming out of the ODOT budget.

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              • 9watts April 4, 2015 at 7:47 am

                “Almost all of the fatality mitigation is being payed by people suffering longer commutes, not coming out of the ODOT budget.”

                Which isn’t money in any real sense anyway since this imputed value of time is just a heuristic. No money changes hands. And by slowing things down we could just as easily argue—as Ivan Illich and others have done—that on average people will get to their destinations just as quickly or perhaps even sooner/or save this imputed money in other ways because driving more slowly

                (a) will reduce the potential for traffic jams
                (b) will reduce the chances of accidents, which also slow things down
                (c) will make things more pleasant for those who bike since the speed differentials are reduced, and as a consequence more may choose to bike, which can lengthen their lives, which could, if one were so inclined, also be monetized, etc…..

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      • Spiffy April 1, 2015 at 7:01 am

        if you’re taking a 400-600 mile trip then you shouldn’t be in a hurry lest impatience get the best of you…

        there are non-road long-distance freight options…

        I’d support a 35 mph freeway speed limit… my transportation time isn’t worth dying over…

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        • Lester Burnham April 1, 2015 at 8:01 am

          35 mph on the freeway? Really? This is where BP posters really go off the rails.

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          • 9watts April 1, 2015 at 8:08 am

            It has been the rule in the past, and it will happen again. Just because your imagination doesn’t allow for this doesn’t mean it is unpossible.

            http://www.cleveland.com/datacentral/index.ssf/2011/10/the_history_of_ohios_speed_lim.html

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            • Lester Burnham April 1, 2015 at 8:22 am

              Yeah in 1926 when cars were practically riding on bike tires and had buggy suspensions. Please be realistic.

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              • 9watts April 1, 2015 at 8:27 am

                1942? No buggy tires.

                2022? No buggy tires.

                This isn’t about buggy tires, dude. It is about constraints.

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              • Lester Burnham April 1, 2015 at 9:44 am

                Please tell me why we need a 35 mph constraint on a freeway. I know people here hate cars and all but that just sounds like pure non-sense.

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              • 9watts April 1, 2015 at 11:57 am

                “Please tell me why we need a 35 mph constraint on a freeway.”

                If you’re really interested, I’d start by recommending Ivan Illich. His proposal was for a universal 15mph speed limit.

                “From our limited information it appears that everywhere in the world, after some vehicle broke the speed barrier of 15 mph, time scarcity related to traffic began to grow. After industry had reached this threshold of per capita output, transport made of man a new kind of waif: a being constantly absent from a destination he cannot reach on his own but must attain within the day. By now, people work a substantial part of every day to earn the money without which they could not even get to work. The time a society spends on transportation grows in proportion to the speed of its fastest public conveyance. Japan now leads the United States in both areas. Life-time gets cluttered up with activities generated by traffic as soon as vehicles crash through the barrier that guards people from dislocation and space from distortion.”

                “In traffic, energy used over a specific period of time (power) translates into speed. In this case, the critical quantum will appear as a speed limit. Wherever this limit has been passed, the basic pattern of social degradation by high energy quanta has emerged. Once some public utility went faster than 15 mph, equity declined and the scarcity of both time and space increased. Motorized transportation monopolized traffic and blocked self-powered transit. In every Western country, passenger mileage on all types of conveyance increased by a factor of a hundred within fifty years of building the first railroad. When the ratio of their respective power outputs passed beyond a certain value, mechanical transformers of mineral fuels excluded people from the use of their metabolic energy and forced them to become captive consumers of conveyance. This effect of speed on the autonomy of people is only marginally affected by the technological characteristics of the motorized vehicles employed or by the persons or entities who hold the legal titles to airlines, buses, railroads, or cars. High speed is the critical factor which makes transportation socially destructive. A true choice among practical policies and of desirable social relations is possible only where speed is restrained. Participatory democracy demands low-energy technology, and free people must travel the road to productive social relations at the speed of a bicycle.”

                https://worldstreets.wordpress.com/2010/09/29/energy-and-equity-ivan-illich/

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        • Psyfalcon April 1, 2015 at 10:54 am

          Over the course of a long drive, that last hour can matter. You have to factor in drowsy driving.

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          • 9watts April 1, 2015 at 10:59 am

            Interesting logic.
            People get drowsy on long drives; let’s encourage them to drive faster.
            Yikes.

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        • gutterbunnybikes April 1, 2015 at 5:27 pm

          Funny thing is that at rush hour on the interstates if the speed was lower you’d probably get to where you’re going faster since there would be fewer collisions and breakdowns if everyone kept to it..

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      • Pete April 1, 2015 at 9:55 am

        I would debate this (even as someone who drives ~800 miles between CA and OR several times a year). First off, even with idealized math you’d save 50 minutes over 400 miles (and I save that by making my wife fly so I don’t have to stop for pee breaks). Second, you’d increase the speed differentials between different road users (like vehicles towing trailers, older cars, RVs, etc.). Third, increased speed reduces reaction times in humans in an exponential manner, not a linear one. I just don’t think the increase in accidents is as insignificant as you propose. (There may even be numbers to support that if you go digging around for when Montana got rid of its speed limits and then decided that was a bad idea).

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        • Psyfalcon April 1, 2015 at 10:57 am

          I heard the main problem with “reasonable and prudent” was the courts trying to figure out what was unreasonable. 55, 85, 100, 150?

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  • John Lascurettes March 31, 2015 at 5:34 pm

    Efficiency? Going faster is only faster, it’s not more efficient (on gas or energy). Not by a long shot.

    I could even get behind this if it were based on density – that is, none of the freeways in the Portland, Eugene or Salem areas should get the new maximum – nor anywhere else that has a traffic density over a certain amount.

    That they cripple the DoT from setting the standards and keeping them from lowering the limit is awfully weasel-like. They are the authority to determine that (not that they do it right all the time, but they are the authority).

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    • WD March 31, 2015 at 5:46 pm

      Going faster doesn’t always get you anywhere faster either. You can drive as fast as you want and then still sit motionless in a traffic jam. If more people felt safe walking or riding a bike there’d be fewer cars on the road and traffic would clear up, shortening commute times.

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    • wsbob March 31, 2015 at 7:18 pm

      “…I could even get behind this if it were based on density – that is, none of the freeways in the Portland, Eugene or Salem areas should get the new maximum – nor anywhere else that has a traffic density over a certain amount. …” John Lascurettes

      I was thinking something similar, but not seriously. Like, ‘sure, 75mph, but only east of the Cascades, or, not in the Willamette Valley.’.

      The idea of vehicles traveling higher speeds on freeways and interstates is repellant to me, but I guess some people might think that feeling is a luxury indulged in by people that don’t have to sit for hours longer in their cars at 65 or 55. I dislike the faster speeds from an environmental standpoint I suppose. I think the higher speeds may be tending to further distance people from the landscape they’re traveling through, turning it into another asphalt gut. It’s a disconnect.

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    • Dan April 1, 2015 at 6:56 am

      From mpgforspeed.com:

      Cars are generally most efficient at 55mph. They are 8% less efficient at 65mph and 23% less efficient at 75mph. “If the national speed limit were reset to 55, it would save 1 billion barrels of oil per year.”

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      • 9watts April 1, 2015 at 7:24 am

        “Cars are generally most efficient at 55mph.”

        Well, sort of/sort of not. While I agree with the general sentiment expressed there, that is one really hastily thrown together website. The graph from Green Car Congress which is featured half way down the page is closer to the truth than that initial claim. Fuel economy doesn’t magically inflect at or near 55mpg. If you want the real deal, try this:
        http://ecomodder.com/forum/tool-aero-rolling-resistance.php

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        • Brendan April 1, 2015 at 10:29 am

          Problem with your calculator is that it uses a fixed value for engine efficiency. It’s actually a function of speed. Everything I’ve seen does show an mpg inflection around 55 mph

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          • 9watts April 1, 2015 at 11:52 am

            In my experience the simplest way to achieve the highest mpg figure in an unmodified vehicle will be at the lowest speed you can manage in your highest gear/overdrive. Wayne Gerdes is the guy who probably know about as much about this as anyone.

            Car manufacturers, once they understood how to game the test cycle, did fool around with automatic transmission set points so they could list better EPA sticker figures, but aside from those shenanigans I think the inflection point for most pre- or post-CAFE cars should be closer to 35-40 mph than 55mph.

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  • caesar March 31, 2015 at 5:51 pm

    I am so massively disheartened that despite all the evidence that increasing driving speeds:

    A) kills more people

    and

    B) adds more greenhouse gases to the air,

    legislators are advocating for this type of change in the name of….efficiency?

    We just don’t learn, do we?

    Really, some days I’m just ashamed to be a member of the human race.

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    • Huey Lewis March 31, 2015 at 7:00 pm

      Don’t be ashamed, just hate most people most days like I do. You will…feel better that way? Uhhhh.

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    • Alan Love April 1, 2015 at 9:01 am

      Like George Castanza said, “People. They’re the worst.”

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    • mee too April 1, 2015 at 8:49 pm

      That BS claim of speed kills was long ago proved meaningless and wrong The actual facts are that higher allowed speeds on freeways specifically designed for these speeds pose no increased safety or death risk! We have the 7+ decades of collected DOT data to prove this. All of this repeating this nonsense made up slogan of speed kills is useless and meaningless in the real world.!.

      Speed kills, what speed where?????? Not reasonable speeds of 75-80 mph on high speed by design interstate freeways…..

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  • Dwaine Dibbly March 31, 2015 at 5:58 pm

    Let’s give the rural counties a speed limit increase in exchange for an Idaho Stop. Everyone gets something they want.

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  • Corey Burger March 31, 2015 at 6:14 pm

    Be careful of the false Vision Zero vs speed limit increases dichotomy. Politicians tend to love raising speed limits because a segment of the driving public loves it. Staff are usually opposed (or weakly for it). Vision Zero tends to be opposite of that (save a few brave politicos or the right climate)

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  • Psyfalcon March 31, 2015 at 6:23 pm

    75 going to Boise please. Match I5 to whatever it is in CA and WA. Oregon rural limits are already well below the neighboring states. Ideally, the state highways would not increase though. Our state highways tend to be very hilly and twisty (causing large speed gaps) and frequented by bike riders and sometimes pedestrians.

    Portland interstates already are signed well under the nominal state limit. Isn’t 84 55mph? How are they trying to limit ODOT? Skimming the bill, it did not seem like a strong restriction, ODOT would pretty much need a study, that they should be doing anyway whenever they set a limit.

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    • John Lascurettes March 31, 2015 at 6:45 pm

      I forgot about most of our interstates outside of metro areas allowing for bicycle access. Good point. Forget the 75MPH limit.

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  • NH March 31, 2015 at 6:48 pm

    Honestly, I don’t see why the speed limit shouldn’t be 70 or even 75 driving straight through the desert on I-84 in far eastern Oregon, or on more remote stretches of I-5. And there are many rural highways (not divided interstates) that are so straight, flat, and unpopulated that a speed limit of 65 doesn’t seem unreasonable either. I don’t think a blanket 75 speed limit sounds right, and I think ODOT engineers should be allowed to make a professional judgement about the speed limit on any given stretch of road.

    My guess would be (and no I haven’t looked this up, if somebody wants to I’d love to see the numbers though) that if you look at states with higher max speed limits, the majority of fatal accidents probably are in dense urban areas with lots of traffic, not desolate roads dozens of miles from civilization.

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    • Dan March 31, 2015 at 8:08 pm

      Wyoming leads the country in cyclist fatality rate, at nearly 3x the national average. Not a lot of dense urban areas there.

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      • Psyfalcon March 31, 2015 at 8:17 pm

        Its also among the highest in drunk driving.

        Which study are you looking at? http://www.governing.com/gov-data/transportation-infrastructure/most-bicycle-cyclist-deaths-per-capita-by-state-data.html shows 2 cyclist deaths in the last 4 years.

        Now, they streetsblog lists them at the top for overall road fatalities, but thats not “cyclist.”

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        • Dan April 1, 2015 at 7:00 am

          Sorry, I meant TRAFFIC fatality rate, not cyclist fatality rate. This one:

          http://usa.streetsblog.org/2012/11/20/why-traffic-deaths-are-more-common-in-red-states-than-in-blue-states/

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          • Barney April 2, 2015 at 8:10 am

            It’s okay, just make it up as you go.

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            • Dan April 2, 2015 at 10:30 am

              I was responding to this: “the majority of fatal accidents probably are in dense urban areas with lots of traffic, not desolate roads dozens of miles from civilization”. And meant to say ‘traffic’ not ‘cyclist’.

              Not making things up as I go. It was a typo and there’s no edit feature Barney.

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      • Chris I April 1, 2015 at 6:38 am

        It also leads the nation in Auto fatality rates, with a rate per person per 100,000km similar to that of developing countries in Asia. Wyoming is a poster child for bad transportation policy. We should not be looking at them for guidance on anything.

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  • Dave March 31, 2015 at 7:45 pm

    This bill is TREASONOUS–more oil burned = more American money into the international terrorist financiers’ pockets. SHAME on the legislators who proposed this!

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    • Tait March 31, 2015 at 9:00 pm

      International terrorist financiers… like Canada? and the UK? (The top two sources of motor fuel imports, see http://www.eia.gov/petroleum/supply/monthly) Although driving faster will probably lower the average miles-per-gallon, a speed limit is a presumed maximum safe speed; nothing compels you drive at that maximum.

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      • Dan April 1, 2015 at 7:02 am

        Except all of the cars riding your bumper and constantly moving around you.

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  • rick March 31, 2015 at 8:14 pm

    Ironic cover photo. There is an unbuilt, public right-of-way on the other side of that Corbett I-5 overpass.

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  • Jeff March 31, 2015 at 9:31 pm

    When I was growing up in MN, they raised the “outstate” (read: not core Twin Cities metro area) limits to 70 mph and limited the heavier-traffic highways to either 60 or 65 mph, much like US 26. Seemed to work well enough in the populated areas.

    Of course, here in PDX, I rarely even pay attention to the speed limit. Rarely matters. I’m either on a train or have to drive in heavier traffic for the 5-10 miles I’m driving, meaning my speed isn’t terribly relevant.

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  • John Liu
    John Liu March 31, 2015 at 10:08 pm

    There is no reason to force someone driving from Portland to Eugene on straight flat wide highway 5 to plod along at 65 mph when 75 mph is safe. Save gas? My car gets 38 mpg at 75 mph. Save cyclists? I don’t think I’ve ever seen a cyclist on that part of highway 5, and I drive it monthly or more often. Prefer to drive slower? Then do so, no one is stopping you.

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    • 9watts April 1, 2015 at 12:51 am

      “My car gets 38 mpg at 75 mph.”
      I don’t know what car you drive, but I will bet you any amount you choose that it will get better mileage at 65 and even better at 55.

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      • Psyfalcon April 1, 2015 at 11:02 am

        I drove to Texas and back. On whole tank averages 65 or 75 weren’t different. It might have been 5% but changing headwinds could account for more out there. 80+ in Utah though was quite a bit lower.

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        • J_R April 1, 2015 at 12:53 pm

          There’s too much variation in the amount of fuel you actually get into a tank to conclude based on one or two samplings that your mileage was different or the same from your trip. Fuel nozzle shut-off pressure, air bubbles, slope of the fueling area, temperature of the tank, etc. Look at the setup used by Mythbusters to see what you have to do to accurately measure fuel consumption.

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          • gutterbunnybikes April 1, 2015 at 7:15 pm

            Are you actually doing the math with gas receipts and odometer readings?

            Standard car computers aren’t very accurate (there are after market ones that are extremely accurate that the Hypermilers favor – in fact they won’t even take you seriously on their forums until you get one). Or even worse the paper in the car window when you bought it most likely isn’t even close to accurate. A couple car companies are getting sued over misleading milage sticker information.

            It’s a long story, but the requirements for those sticker fuel ratings are a complete scam. So even if the car companies loose they will likely pay nothing because the DEQ requirements for the sticker claims are so low, it’s nearly meaningless.

            Considering the real MPG of cars as a whole has barely moved since the Model T (which got roughly 20), it’s unlikely you’re actually getting that kind of MPG.

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    • caesar April 1, 2015 at 7:53 am

      Which car do you drive that gets 38 mpg at 75 mph? Please share, this is great news.

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    • invisiblebikes April 1, 2015 at 2:07 pm

      “There is no reason to force someone driving from Portland to Eugene on straight flat wide highway 5 to plod along at 65 mph when 75 mph is safe.”
      John Liu

      But it is not “Safe”! many of the death’s that happen on our nations road ways are on an interstate because as Leah Treat stated today talking about #visionzero “speed Kills!, its that simple!” the ratio of people who die in car crashes goes up when speeds go above 45 mph. That’s a proven fact.

      For example: 3 weeks ago when I was driving back from Seattle near long view, a woman was killed on her motorcycle from debris flying up and hitting her! Debris?! from the side of the road was kicked up from a car well in front of her, while being pulled over by police.
      I guarantee you that poor lady would still be alive if she were going 55mph instead of 75mph (the speed limit may be 70 but most people do 5 to 10 over!)
      Here reaction time would have been much better at a slower speed, not to mention she may have been able to stay upright after being hit by the debris at a slower speed.

      The fact is No Life is worth convenience! or in their language “efficiency”

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  • Ed March 31, 2015 at 11:26 pm

    The Netherlands has an automobile speed limit of 130 (81mph). Density is 493 (NL) vs 15 (OR) per square kilometer. And yes it is fantastic for bicycling over there. I don’t believe automobile speed on rural interstates is the issue. I believe bicycle infrastructure/design is the problem.

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    • 9watts April 1, 2015 at 7:48 am

      “The Netherlands has an automobile speed limit of 130 (81mph).”

      I’m not sure how helpful that statistic is in this context. Their (generally lower-than-our) speed limits in towns are a contributing factor to the safety of other non-motorized participants in traffic. The highway speed limits there as here have less bearing on deaths of the rest of us than on deaths of those who are also in cars, on the general attitude toward speed on other non-highway roads, and on the excess consumption of gasoline.

      “I don’t believe automobile speed on rural interstates is the issue.”

      There is not just one issue to consider here.

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    • Spiffy April 1, 2015 at 10:18 am

      I agree that once we have the same licensing requirements and infrastructure as the Netherlands that we can then raise the speed limits…

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      • CaptainKarma April 1, 2015 at 2:14 pm

        Yeah, I was just thinking, we still have people pull out their guns and shoot each other over perceived insults and lost honor in traffic.

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    • gutterbunnybikes April 1, 2015 at 7:20 pm

      They also start educating their children about road safety in elementary school. A kid over there getting their license is probably 1000% better trained at road skills than your average American.

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  • Paul April 1, 2015 at 12:04 am

    It never ceases to amaze me that you people up in the Portland area want to dictate policy for the entire state. Being a native 4th generation Oregonian, I am getting tired of you people coming in from out of state and telling us how we should live. I would bet a large part of the comments here come from freshly transplanted people.

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    • 9watts April 1, 2015 at 8:16 am

      5th generation Oregonian here.

      Maybe try again.

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    • Pete April 1, 2015 at 8:36 am

      Native Jeffersonian?

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    • Chris I April 1, 2015 at 9:51 am

      As a 4th generation Oregonian, I feel compelled to inform you that the Portland metro population (around 2 million) has enough people to outvote the rest of the state combined. We live in a representative democracy, and our representatives are going to do what is best for their constituents. If you want to change this dynamic, you should get more people to move to your district.

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    • Dan April 1, 2015 at 9:56 am

      I’d like to dictate policy for the entire country, thank you very much. Oregonian since 1977, which I think counts as ‘native’.

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      • rainbike April 1, 2015 at 11:37 am

        Nope, there’s no naturalized native clause. Resident alien is the best you can hope for.

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        • Dan April 1, 2015 at 12:21 pm

          I’ll never understand the rules. I’ve lived here since I was 4 and have no memory of living anywhere else before, but I’m less an Oregonian than someone who was born here this morning.

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          • rainbike April 1, 2015 at 1:06 pm

            The native label doesn’t really get you much. In fact, in some instances, it can be a disadvantage. More important to be a good person. Seems like you have that figured out.

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    • Spiffy April 1, 2015 at 10:25 am

      yes, those darn English trying to colonize all over our land, trying to tell us how to live, and where to drive our buffalo… go back across the pond!

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    • A.H. April 1, 2015 at 5:51 pm

      Yeah! And only CA, NY, and TX should have any say in national policy, and only China and India should have any say in international policy!

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    • gutterbunnybikes April 1, 2015 at 7:23 pm

      So what you were born here? As was a few of your ancestors. Doesn’t mean you get any kind of privilege. Besides, I’m sure we can find a few Native Americans that might have something to say about your wimpy geographic birthright privilege.

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  • Peter W April 1, 2015 at 12:32 am

    There’s also a connection between higher speeds and increased sprawl.

    (For an example, look at Intel, where their workers commute from, and how those commuters travel.)

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  • kittens April 1, 2015 at 3:31 am

    Increasing travel speed is inversely related to traffic throughput over 45 mph thereby limiting the efficacy of our roads.

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  • meh April 1, 2015 at 7:02 am

    Only those areas with a 65mph limit are going to increase in speed. All the urban freeways will maintain the current 55mph limit. Most people are living and commuting in that boundary, so it’s not going to change anything with their commute.

    If you live south of Wilsonville or out in the Gorge you’ll get some reduction in commute time.

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    • Pete April 1, 2015 at 8:42 am

      Gorge roads are dangerous enough at 65 when they’re wet or icy.

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      • meh April 1, 2015 at 9:23 am

        We’re talking about I-84 here.

        And the raising of the speed limit does not override Oregon’s basic rule, where you have to drive to conditions.

        In icey conditions even 65mph is unsafe, should we lower the speed limits to meet the worst case scenario, which would be a landslide that closes the highway.

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        • 9watts April 1, 2015 at 9:27 am

          “And the raising of the speed limit does not override Oregon’s basic rule, where you have to drive to conditions.”

          And we know how well that is enforced right now….

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        • Chris I April 1, 2015 at 10:03 am

          You realize that very few people in Oregon even know what the basic rule is, right? The vast majority of drivers look for the “Speed Limit” sign, read the number, and then drive 5 to 15mph over that number, regardless of conditions.

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        • Pete April 1, 2015 at 12:35 pm

          “which would be a landslide that closes the highway.”

          Yeah, that happens every few years out there too. I lived off of that highway so have seen lots of fun stuff, let alone had a semi send me into a snowbank when it tried to pass the snowplow in front of me too fast. There are times I’ve driven home past Mult Falls in 2nd gear with white knuckles straining to see through snow drifts, but yes I realize that’s not often.

          It’s just my personal opinion that with all the trucks on that road and drivers already either already doing 70+ in light traffic, or tailgating each other impatiently at 50-60 on weekends/eves, it’s fine the way it is.

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  • JJJJ April 1, 2015 at 7:03 am

    Theres nothing wrong with 75mph on an interstate. Modern cars have no issues with that, as seen in all the states that allow it.

    What is idiotic is a 20mph speed differential with trucks and buses.

    On highways, speed doesnt kill – speed differentials do. It leads to dangerous lane changes and merges and leads to incorrect decisions based on information (ie, when merging, you see a truck going 55mph roll past and fail to calculate that the car behind it is coming in at 75mph).

    Its also a disincentive to bus riders.

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    • 9watts April 1, 2015 at 8:21 am

      “Modern cars have no issues with that”
      I don’t think anyone here is worried about the cars. I’m worried about the people, and the needless waste of fuel.
      And for what?

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      • JJJJ April 1, 2015 at 8:58 am

        The point is that modern cars can safely travel at those speeds.

        Highway collisions tend to happen when there’s:
        a) Congestion (which creates a speed differential)
        b) Weather, particularly dense fog or ice – where people travel at an unsafe speed. This is true at 55mph, 65mph or 75mph when people should be going 35mph
        c) Unsafe lane changes/merges – again a product of speed differential

        Raising (or lowering) the speed limit for HIGHWAY traffic doesnt really save lives.

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        • AC April 1, 2015 at 9:46 am

          I think we can assume people will make at least the same number of driving errors at higher speeds resulting in at least the same number of accidents. It is my understanding that higher speed accidents correlate with higher mortality.

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          • JJJJ April 1, 2015 at 1:14 pm

            Thats where the safer cars come in. You can crash a 2015 model at 45, 65,or 85 and come out alive. Not so much a 1970 model.

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            • 9watts April 1, 2015 at 1:17 pm

              “You can crash a 2015 model at 45, 65,or 85 and come out alive.”

              Into whom? Are you concerned if they are alive?

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            • AC April 2, 2015 at 4:07 pm

              Three cheers for engineers (also regulatory compliance)! But, I hear the average age of cars on the road is greater than 10 years. If that is the average, then it’s likely that many cars are bereft of those safety features you seem confident will save your life in a high speed collision.

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        • 9watts April 1, 2015 at 10:21 am

          “Raising (or lowering) the speed limit for HIGHWAY traffic doesnt really save lives.”

          This is an utterly absurd claim. As AC noted, people make mistakes all the time, including while driving. If they are encouraged to drive faster (which an increased speed limit would do) the probabilities of injury or death, to themselves or someone not in their car, go up. If you disagree, please show me a study.
          The Vision Zero folks know this too.

          The fact that you decided to throw (or lowering) in there suggests you have no idea what you are talking about. If your statement quoted above were true then the current speed limits would correspond to the speed at which the fewest people are injured or die. That speed would be zero, which is not even close to the mix of speeds currently posted.

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          • JJJJ April 1, 2015 at 1:18 pm

            I apparently know a lot more on the topic than you do, because youre wrong.

            The Vision Zero folks know that their campaign in inspired by Europe, where highway speed limits are significantly higher.

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            • 9watts April 1, 2015 at 1:20 pm

              O.K., you win.

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      • CaptainKarma April 1, 2015 at 2:23 pm

        Nobody has mentioned texting yet. Or drunks. Or drunks texting. At 110 feet/sec.

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    • Pete April 1, 2015 at 9:03 am

      The speed differentials danger is a good point, but vehicles with trailers are more unstable at higher speeds than cars are. I’ve got a sports car that does 0-60 in 5 seconds and rides quite comfortably at 100 MPH, but I personally don’t see it as a reason to raise limits to 75 MPH, especially since so many people already exceed the 65 MPH limit on open highways with little legal consequence. To your point, increasing the speeds at which cars may go while continuing to limit vehicles with trailers does seem to create a more dangerous situation, but I don’t think that’s best mitigated by then increasing the speeds at which people can tow trailers at.

      I drive between the gorge and silicon valley typically a few times a year. On I-5 in OR people generally drive ~70-75 MPH where it’s 65 limit. In Cali where it’s 70 limit I’m about the slowest person on the road doing that. When I go from 505 to I-80 into the bay area the limits drop but driver speeds don’t. It really seems to me like this “10 over” philosophy is ingrained in our culture already.

      My personal opinion is that for the safety of our highway patrollers these speed limits shouldn’t be any higher than they are. I can’t imagine OSP or LEOs in general will get behind this.

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    • Spiffy April 1, 2015 at 11:59 am

      “On highways, speed doesnt kill”

      I used to think that speed didn’t kill, it was always the stupid actions of drivers that killed… and since I was the best driver I knew there was no worry about me being involved in a fatal crash…

      but now I know better…

      I’ve learned that speed does indeed kill… stupid actions performed at 65 mph are way more likely to kill people than the same stupid actions at 25 mph…

      and I was a horrible driver…

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      • Mike April 1, 2015 at 1:08 pm

        Exactly! All the more reason speed limits should be reduced to 25!

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  • Joseph E April 1, 2015 at 8:45 am

    Really bad idea to keep the truck speed limit at 55 mph (meaning 60 mph in practice) while raising the private car speed limit to 75 mph (meaning 85 mph average speeds). That’s a huge speed differential between cars and trucks, and will lead to more accidents.

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  • Todd Boulanger April 1, 2015 at 9:00 am

    Perhaps there can be a rural + urban opportunity here:
    1) support the raising of speed limits on rural routes with a higher design standard (lighting, divided carriageway with cable medians, hard shoulder, limited access, etc.), include highways without lighting only as a higher daytime speed;
    2) lower speed limits (often unchanged for decades) on highways with design deficiencies or high crash rates and those functioning as small town main streets/ scenic routes, active transportation routes; and
    3) transfer highways to urban cities above 100,000 population.

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    • Paul Souders April 1, 2015 at 10:19 am

      This is how they do it in Germany I think.

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  • mee too April 1, 2015 at 9:03 am

    That claim of limit increases leading to more deaths is and always has been a half truth. The facts are the increasing posted maximums on interstate freeways which are by design the safest highways ever conceived of or built in our country. They have the lowest death rate per miles traveled of all highways in Oregon, and data from across the US shows higher limits on these freeways do not increase crash or death rates.

    Groups who will loose money from properly posted engineering based maximums always come up with this cooked up with this irrelevant to this discussion claim of increased fatalities if the limit is increased.

    Here are the real facts on this, Across the US over the last 20 years the death rate have continued to drop to records levels everywhere the limits were put back to engineering based pre-NMSL levels faster than in places like Oregon and other places which stuck to the irrelevant to reality NMSL levels! These groups who cook the books to make the bogus claims of increased carnage always lumps the stats from places which are not related to these proposed increases. Because they know when they tell the truth the stats just don’t make the arguments they want made..

    When they are asked why they lump stats together like this their answer is always, we the public are not smart enough to understand broken down stats. When they know the real reason for this when broken down the stats do not back up their bogus BS claims of properly posted maximums posing a death increase risk!!

    FACT! These freeways which this bill would allow an increase to 75 mph DOT collects data shows from over the last 70+ years to be somewhere which posting proper limits makes travel safer for all.

    Those who have made trillions(the insurance industry) over the last 41 years of the irrelevant to actual safe travel speeds NMSL policies have done everything they could do to keep limits under posted. They know these ignored by 100 % of drivers make travel less safe. And they have out & out lied about what really happens if proper limits are posted properly. They now have DEcades of cooking up the stats to back up their BS slogan of “Speed Kills”. A meaningless slogan which means nothing, what speed are they claiming is so dangerous? The data shows it isn’t speeds being debated for freeways designed specifically for safe travel @ 75-80 mph for vehicles of the 1950s & 60s.

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    • invisiblebikes April 1, 2015 at 3:02 pm

      Here is a direct quote from iihs.org

      More than 10,000 deaths — about a third of all crash fatalities — occurred in speed-related crashes in 2012. High speeds make a crash more likely because it takes longer to stop or slow down. They also make collisions more deadly because crash energy increases exponentially as speeds go up.

      Raising speed limits leads to more deaths. People often drive faster than the speed limit, and if the limit is raised they will go faster still. Research shows that when speed limits are raised, speeds go up, as do fatal crashes.

      Enforcement of speed limits helps keep speeds down. Traditional enforcement, which relies on police officers to measure speed with radar or other technology, has been joined recently by speed cameras. Speed cameras, which are used in more than 100 U.S. communities, have been shown to reduce speeds and crashes.

      Here is the link to their page: http://www.iihs.org/iihs/topics/t/speed/topicoverview

      I think I will trust the facts from proven independent non profit scientific organizations than your baseless opinion.

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  • Pete April 1, 2015 at 9:13 am

    Funny thing is no matter what the legal speed limit is, practical speeds are limited by traffic, and during commute times they’re significantly limited.

    If you idealize a trip between CA and WA across the 305 miles of I-5, you’ll get there a little over a half-hour faster in theory. (In practice you could never maintain 65 MPH average over that distance, let alone 75, so you gain what, 15 minutes off of 4+ hours?).

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    • Dan April 1, 2015 at 10:00 am

      If people are in THAT much of a hurry, why don’t I see people running more often? If I’m taking a 4 hour trip, pretty sure I’d save the most time if I ran while packing the car.

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      • Pete April 1, 2015 at 12:21 pm

        I usually make my wife fly so I don’t have to stop so often for pee breaks… 🙂

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        • Dan April 1, 2015 at 1:52 pm

          Personally, I would save the most time by having my kids start heading towards the car before I pack.

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      • Chris I April 1, 2015 at 1:48 pm

        It is a bit comical when you see people speed into a parking lot, speed into a parking spot, and then proceed to leisurely waddle up to their destination. Given the way people drive around here, everyone should be sprinting from their car to their destination pretty much all of the time, yet I never see this.

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        • Tait April 2, 2015 at 2:46 pm

          Have you ever tried? People give you really strange (and sometimes worried) looks when you run in public for any reason other than an obvious workout routine. Nobody’s ever called the police (that I know of…) but some sure looked like they were about to.

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        • Pete April 7, 2015 at 10:11 am

          My favorite is watching people at gyms cruise around the lot and wait for others to leave so they can park closer to the door.

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        • El Biciclero April 7, 2015 at 4:52 pm

          Heh. When I drive to the store, I intentionally drive very slowly in the parking lot, park in the first space I can find (usually far from the door), then get out and jog to the entrance. I usually try to park next to a cart return, but if I haven’t, I run with my empty cart to properly return it, then run back to my car and drive very slowly out of the parking lot…

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  • SW April 1, 2015 at 9:16 am

    all these great arguments are missing the BIG picture.

    Just as “wars are good for big business”, traffic accidents/fatalities are too.

    think of all the support business that are dependent on this. Insurance companies, State Police, repair shops, replacement car sellers, hospitals , doctors …etc..etc.

    if accidents/fatalities dropped off to zero ..think of all the lost income. 🙁

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  • dave April 1, 2015 at 9:38 am

    I see a lot of people talking about increased fatalities as an established fact, but are there any hard numbers? Idaho and Montana have 80mph limits, Washington and California have 75mph. Are per-mile accident rates actually higher for comparable stretches of freeway in those places?

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    • Dan April 1, 2015 at 10:07 am

      RE: freeways, I’m mostly concerned about reducing fuel economy. Just as I am opposed to people sitting in their cars with the engine running for no apparent reason, which I see all the time.

      Safety-wise, raising the highway speed to 65 is more disconcerting to me, since highways are frequently traveled by cyclists.

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      • dave April 1, 2015 at 10:35 am

        I would dearly love to see somebody ticketed for unnecessary idling. It’s an objectively bad thing, but it drives me nuts even more than it probably should.

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        • Dan April 1, 2015 at 10:53 am

          …and you’re helping to pay for their gas! yay!

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        • Pete April 1, 2015 at 12:50 pm

          I rented a Mercedes not long ago with an “eco” mode that shut the engine off at stop lights, and it seems like many newer BMWs I sit next to at lights do that these days. Makes sense to me. (The button on the Mercedes’ dash let me easily override it when in traffic that caused it to be more of a pain than a benefit).

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    • Pete April 1, 2015 at 1:02 pm

      A few comments say CA limits are 75 MPH, but they are 70 MPH in select areas only.
      http://www.dot.ca.gov/hq/roadinfo/70mph.htm

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    • invisiblebikes April 1, 2015 at 2:59 pm

      Yes there is hard data to support the claims, take a look at the data from many of the cities that have adopted the #VisionZero plan. many of these stats are pulled from the government census data and highway safety commission findings.

      And to emphasize that #VisionZero is a good plan, take a look at Volvo, one of the safest cars on the road has officially adopted A Vision Zero plan for Zero deaths in a Volvo by 2020!
      I seriously doubt a company that large and with their reputation would make that claim with out doing their homework.

      Here is an interesting fact from data taken from studies done in 2009 and 2005 pulled for a Portland VisionZero plan,
      “40% of all traffic congestion in Portland is non-recurring and caused primarily by crashes.”
      crashes happen because people drive to fast for the conditions and higher speeds mean worse crashes = longer delays and congestion.

      And its not just in city limits, how many times have you been stuck in traffic in the middle of nowhere because of a crash?

      Here is a direct quote from iihs.org

      More than 10,000 deaths — about a third of all crash fatalities — occurred in speed-related crashes in 2012. High speeds make a crash more likely because it takes longer to stop or slow down. They also make collisions more deadly because crash energy increases exponentially as speeds go up.

      Raising speed limits leads to more deaths. People often drive faster than the speed limit, and if the limit is raised they will go faster still. Research shows that when speed limits are raised, speeds go up, as do fatal crashes.

      Enforcement of speed limits helps keep speeds down. Traditional enforcement, which relies on police officers to measure speed with radar or other technology, has been joined recently by speed cameras. Speed cameras, which are used in more than 100 U.S. communities, have been shown to reduce speeds and crashes.

      Here is the link to their page: http://www.iihs.org/iihs/topics/t/speed/topicoverview

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  • Adam H. April 1, 2015 at 9:42 am

    If you want to increase efficiency, then build more trains. They’re far more efficient than cars at transporting people.

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    • Psyfalcon April 1, 2015 at 11:19 am

      Trains with car carriers!

      Amtrak has one down the east coast to Fl.

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  • Paul Souders April 1, 2015 at 10:17 am

    I was living in Montana when it “repealed” its speed limit (1997). The signs at that time said “65mph night time limit” (actually quite strictly enforced, ditto the truck limit, also 65mph) and “Daylight: maintain safe and prudent speed.”

    Well as soon as they lifted the limit all kinds of knobs came from all over the world with superfast sports cars to test that proposition. Scarcely a week went by when you didn’t hear a news report about some millionaire from Germany pulled over doing 145mph outside Havre or somewhere equally remote.

    And every time (EVERY. DAMN. TIME.) Yellowstone public radio would interview the arresting trooper who would say, verbatim:

    “There is nothing safe or prudent about driving a car 145mph on a public road.”

    In practice the actual speed limit at that time was 85mph in the best conditions (daylight, dry, etc.), and it was a “hazardous driving” ticket or something like that, more serious than a mere speeding ticket.

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    • Gerik April 1, 2015 at 1:55 pm

      Ha! I remember these days. My dad was a Montana Highway Patrolman based out of Malta and then Billings. He once pulled over five BMW engineers from Germany outside of Havre, all at the same time. They totally thought Montana was going to be their new Autobahn. Funny, but scary.

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    • mee too April 1, 2015 at 7:47 pm

      Montana got a numerical limit in early 1999. the reasonable & prudent limit was not repealed but was overturned in 1998 as being to vague to enforce as written. From that time to the enacted numerical to the time it went into effect there was no speed limit. But contrary to the nonsense that has been spewed by some, it was not a free frawl of deadly driving. There was never a time when you could not be pulled over for driving faster than was safe for conditions!

      Something else, the death rate per miles traveled was quite a bit lower during the time of reasonable and prudent and no limit than it is today with a numerical limit. So that’s right it was safer to drive across Montana when they had no numerical limit than it is today with the posted 75. allowed 80 mph limit today!

      FRom my 10s of thousands of miles clocked across the state during this time the enforced and comfortable for most limit was ~90 mph on interstates and 70-75 mph on two lane rural highways in good weather during lighter traffic. I many times drove the length of the state on it’s freeways safely and comfortably @ 90 mph with the CC on.

      I had a couple of year old Ranger 4cyl man trans pickup on new tires. While safely traveling at that speed I was not passing anyone nor was anyone passing me. And more than a few times I was traveling with MHP officers while going along safely at this speed.

      But if you went much faster than that on either type of roads they would pull you over.

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  • Amy Subach April 1, 2015 at 10:47 am

    how about a political compromise? You can have fast highways if 1) cities can lower their internal speed limit to 20mph, 2) diverters every 5 blocks or so in all the greenways, 3) more protected bike lanes.

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  • ricochet April 1, 2015 at 10:53 am

    I actually am fine with highway speeds being faster- it as close to a ‘natural environment’ for a car as you get. What I’d love to see is this tempered with lower non-highway speeds, and better driver education. To paraphrase Arnold: Speed does nothing, sudden deceleration is the enemy.

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  • Paul April 1, 2015 at 11:13 am

    I don’t see a problem with increasing the rural Interstate limit to 70 MPH, making it consistent with CA and WA. I think split auto/truck speed limits on two lane roads are a really bad idea. Auto drivers feel impeded by trucks traveling at their speed limit, and are inclined to make unsafe passes. It’s bad enough on the Interstates when you have to pass a long line of semis, although on I-84 through The Gorge a truck going 55 MPH is a rarity.
    Bumping the limit up by only 5 MPH would just be reflecting reality.
    Someone else also raised the issue of how are old, air-cooled VW busses going to stay out of everyone else’s way?
    BTW, I’m not sure why this is even a BikePortland issue. Seems more up Joseph Rose’s alley.

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    • 9watts April 1, 2015 at 11:18 am

      “Bumping the limit up by only 5 MPH would just be reflecting reality.”

      Paul, I think we have different interpretations of the dynamic ways reality works.

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    • gutterbunnybikes April 1, 2015 at 7:35 pm

      Because other than a few stretches (mostly in Portland – I believe a stretch in Salem- might be others I’m not aware of), bicycles are allowed to be ridden on the shoulders of the highways and interstates.

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  • Stretchy April 1, 2015 at 11:49 am

    Does bicycling become more dangerous as speeds increase?

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    • Pete April 1, 2015 at 1:04 pm

      Ironically my worst damage (broken clavicle, torn ligament, fractured elbow) has happened at speeds <10 MPH. Maybe I just tuck and roll better at higher speed crashes…

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    • Andy K April 1, 2015 at 1:35 pm

      This question could be it’s own blog post.

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    • gutterbunnybikes April 1, 2015 at 7:35 pm

      most likely.

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  • Joe April 1, 2015 at 12:35 pm

    I guess 55 saves lives was a thing… smh

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  • Andy K April 1, 2015 at 1:05 pm

    I wish they would just let transportation engineers dictate the speed limits on roads.

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  • Eric April 1, 2015 at 3:28 pm

    When considering raising the speed limit, I think it would be important to consider the deaths resulting from suicide of people who read through all these comments.

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  • Matt April 1, 2015 at 4:12 pm

    I’d like to see the speed limit raised to 75. Allow for higher speeds in the left and slower traffic to the right–> for vehicles that cannot maintain such speeds. I’d enjoy being able to drive out to Bend at 80-85.

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    • 9watts April 1, 2015 at 4:16 pm

      “I’d enjoy being able to drive out to Bend at 80-85”

      What about the handful of reasons not to do this that have been enumerated here already? How do you weigh those against your imagined enjoyment?

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    • Pete April 1, 2015 at 4:27 pm

      “slower traffic to the right”

      That’s already the law but we see how well that works in practice now.

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    • Chris I April 1, 2015 at 8:33 pm

      And what happens when I need to pass a 55mph semi at 65mph in my pickup? Oh ya, you’re the guy that zooms up at 80mph and tailgates me until I safely complete the pass…

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  • SW April 1, 2015 at 4:25 pm

    an interesting (but not too serious) idea would be to make the left land = UNLIMITED.

    With the Fangio wannabe’s losing control often , they would self destruct , and greatly lessen the amount of vehicles on the road.

    There would need to be a firewall though, to keep the flaming messes from impacting the responsible cars in the other lanes. 🙂 🙂 🙂

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    • 9watts April 1, 2015 at 4:34 pm

      In Germany that is pretty much how it already works. Very unnerving and I think dangerous, though I don’t have statistics to support that feeling. My sense of the undesirability of large speed differentials on any roads is due to my experience of appearing-in-your-rear-view-mirror-out-of-nowhere-lights-flashing-tailgating-males-in-Porsches-BMWs-Mercedes-Ferraris-Jaguars on German freeways.

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  • jered bogli April 1, 2015 at 5:29 pm

    I would love a higher highway speeds outside of metro areas. This is great news. Realistically Between Portland and Eugene you can only go as fast as the volume of traffic allows, which isn’t that fast. and realistically you won’t get there any faster, but I’ll take the extra few MPH where I can get them.

    from wiki:
    highway deaths per 1billion vehicle KM traveled
    Germany 1.98
    USA 3.62

    I’d worry way more about distracted drivers going slow than focused drivers going fast.

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    • Dan April 1, 2015 at 6:59 pm

      Great, when can we start getting more focused German drivers here?

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  • mee too April 1, 2015 at 5:42 pm

    Mr. Steve Doner…. , former Illinois Chapter Coordinator National Motorists Association, addressed the Board.

    (Noted here: Mr. Steve Doner, former Illinois Chapter Coordinator National Motorists Association, addressed the Board.) claims this to be official testimony. From page 3 here.

    Testimony for the Illinois Tollway Board Meeting December 18, 2014

    Madam Chairman and members of the board, My name is Thad Peterson, and I retired from the Michigan Department of State Police in early 2013, after 25 years of service to the citizens of Michigan.

    During the last 10 years of my career with the State Police I served as the commanding officer of the Traffic Services Section.

    Where one of our main focus areas together with the Department of Transportation, County Road, Commissions, and elected officials of all levels, was to correct hundreds of artificially low speed limits across the state.

    The speed limit corrections implemented during my tenure in traffic services (mostly increases of up to 15 miles per hour) impacted millions of vehicle miles traveled per day.

    Over that same time frame, Michigan’s traffic fatality numbers plummeted, by about a third.

    In conjunction with my counterparts, I was recognized for those efforts with two Governor’s Traffic Safety Awards for Outstanding Contributions to Traffic Safety.

    Many of these corrections were on urban freeways, typically correcting under-posted speed limits of 55 miles per hour to 70 miles per hour. 70 was the nearest multiple of 5 miles per hour to the 85th percentile speed, and closely matched the prevailing, safe traffic speeds on these freeways.

    In all cases, we conducted after-studies to determine the effect of the changes, and to see if we needed to revise or reverse them. Safety was our overriding concern.

    Despite our openness to adjusting our engineering changes or even completely reversing them if necessary, we found that our results were consistent with the long standing national studies on speed limit establishment:

    [quote=]

    • No 85th percentile speeds increased by any significant amount, and some actually decreased after increasing the speed limit 15 MPH.

    • Overall, the crash rates on the freeways in question trended downward, and our fatality rate declined strongly statewide.

    • Rush hour traffic congestion on the urban freeway segments we corrected by speed limit increases, was dramatically reduced or eliminated.

    • Reduced statistical variance measured in the traffic speeds, matched the overall impression of greater vehicle speed uniformity, with reduced conflicts between vehicles and a more pleasant driving environment as a result.

    • The ONLY empirical measure that changed dramatically was a huge increase in compliance with the new speed limits.

    [/quote]

    As you would expect from these results, we never had to roll back any of the speed limit changes we made. With continued after-studies now many years after the changes, the results remain the same.

    To summarize the dilemma related to speed limit changes, perceptions and expectation simply don’t match with the results.

    People worry that vehicles/drivers will increase travel speeds by the amount of the speed limit increase.

    The best research solidly refutes this assertion, and in the hundreds of the road segments where we increased the speed limit up to 15 miles per hour, traffic travel speeds never increased significantly.

    Travel speeds are made more CONSISTENT across the board, which is why crashes are normally reduced, and the crashes that do occur, do NOT tend to involve higher speeds than they did prior to the speed limit increase. The result is INCREASED SAFETY.

    Road authorities are often concerned about an engineering factor called “Design Speed.” Interestingly, when citing this concern, they miss the point that if the speed limit is far below normal travel speeds for that segment of the roadway.

    They have usually already failed to design for the prevailing speeds at which traffic is traveling SAFELY.

    Design speed is a highly misused and misunderstood topic that should not deter road authorities from maximizing traffic safety through the use of optimal speed limits.

    Upward speed limit corrections open the door for posting ADVISORY signs where road conditions warrant them, while increasing compliance with the speed limit.

    Artificially low speed limits, on the other hand, incite disregard for traffic controls as a whole, and DON’T allow for some advisory signs that drivers may really need in some cases to alert them to potentially hazardous design features of the roadway.

    As you can see, there is much more to this extremely important, and somewhat counter-intuitive topic than time allows in this forum.

    I am more than happy to answer any questions you have of me, and I thank you very much for your time and your consideration of this topic that is of such great importance to the safety of your constituents and road users.

    Respectfully submitted,

    Thad V. Peterson, F/Lt., Retired

    Michigan Department of State Police

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  • mee too April 1, 2015 at 6:55 pm

    Keeping 65 & 55 posted in places where traffic is comfortably and safely today traveling @ 75 costs lives from the conflicts these ridiculously under posted freeways cause. Raising the limit to 75 can and will save lives from the smothing out of flow speeds by the either the removal of slower drivers by them speeding up to comply with the properly posted limit or by them taking other slower by design routes, a fact back up by 70+ years of DOT collected data!

    Enforcement should be deployed where crashes actually occur instead of wide-open, fast stretches of highway trying to enforce a limit that no one respects or obeys.

    You see, Oregon’s rural interstate fatality rate was 0.35 —

    FAR LOWER than the 2.26 deaths per 100-million travel miles across all rural roads in 2012.

    Rural interstates accounted for less than 3% of Oregon’s traffic deaths that year. Fretting over a trivial 10-mph increase on the safest rural roads in the state just demonstrates ignorance of the common causes of crashes:

    The real safety issues which lead to crashes are not even on interstates, by design these roads do not have intersections, opposing traffic, roadside hazards, and sharp curves.

    Misplaced concern means misplaced enforcement.

    Go 75 now on the safest roads in Oregon!

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  • mee too April 1, 2015 at 7:14 pm

    Here is something from Steve Doner at the NMA on the setting of proper speed limits on freeways:

    Steve Doner NMA

    HIGHER SPEED LIMITS WILL INCREASE SAFETY….

    The trite saying that speed kills is about as useful as saying that altitude and gravity are responsible for plane crashes. The truth is more complicated. Here’s what a Michigan State Police Official said at a recent meeting of the Illinois Tollway Board of Directors…

    http://www.donerdesigns.org/other-causes/raisechicagolimits

    Transportation engineers agree almost universally around he world that proper and safe speed limits are set at the 85th percentile speed under good conditions. Most rural interstates in North America should be set at 75-85 with urban interstates and rural 2 lane highways at 65-75.

    Raising (or lowering) limits rarely changes actual travel speeds. This has been proven over and over, including in my area a few years back. When the south leg of I-355 had its limit increased from 55 to 65, the actual speeds only moved by about 1-2 mph (according to Illinois Tollway officials).

    The rea$on limit$ are $o low i$ clear to mo$t ob$erver$. Nay$ayer$ are either uneducated on the science or they are in the revenue $tream and are protecting their pocketbook$. Who is in the revenue stream? To name a few, police, traffic attorneys, municipalities, courts, judges, speed camera makers, traffic schools and insurance companies, including AAA.

    Steve Doner
    Life Member and Former
    Illinois Chapter Coordinator
    National Motorists Association

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    • Chris I April 1, 2015 at 8:39 pm

      This is silly. Anyone that has driven in states with higher speed limits understands that everyone just drives 5-15mph over the limit. Do you really think people will start driving the speed limit if we raise it to 75mph?

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    • El Biciclero April 2, 2015 at 12:37 pm

      This just in: Not Crashing Saves Lives!

      Now, to avoid crashing, drive…faster?

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    • invisiblebikes April 3, 2015 at 1:41 pm

      Haha! that is funny, your pulling opinion based data from a website run by a guitar maker! Especially one that “build guitars to raise funds for some of our favorite charities and causes!” that is called a “bias”

      I think I’ll trust a fully funded non-prophet and government backed organization that uses Actual scientific data http://www.iihs.org/iihs/topics/t/speed/topicoverview over hypothetical conjecture based on some random guys website.
      The problem with his statements is that our laws are in place for a reason “To Protect, and Serve the Public” and just because people driving don’t follow them and go 5-15 mph over is never a good reason to change them.

      You can’t fight newtons 3 laws of motion my friend… So yes it is one of the fundamental laws of motion that equals “Speed Kills!”

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    • El Biciclero April 3, 2015 at 8:08 pm

      Idaho Stop, here we come! As long as we’re legalizing Illegal Things That People Do Anyway…

      The surest way to eliminate lawbreaking is to have fewer laws to break, or make the law harder to break. Why not tailor all laws to a standard of what people are going to do anyway? Legal pot, anyone? Why not a bunch of other stuff? Let’s change Oregon’s treatment of yellow lights to the permissive model instead of the restrictive model we have now? Why require stopping before making a right on red? Hardly anyone does. How about some jaywalking? Everybody does it, besides, most fatal pedestrian accidents happen in crosswalks, maybe we should quit using them.

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  • gutterbunnybikes April 1, 2015 at 7:39 pm

    I say let do it, as long as there is a rider in bill requiring helmets and 4 point harnesses in all cars for all passangers.

    SInce that is the safety system of race car drivers I’d assume this is the safest method to avoid injury for a car driver or passenger. Probably should make us wear the fireproof coverall as well as we are approaching these speeds,

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  • Psyfalcon April 2, 2015 at 11:10 am

    If the marginal fuel use increase in going from 65 to 75 is too much [see above, I can’t measure it between all the other variables] why do we allow the use of an inefficient car?

    Why not mandate a Prius for all families under 4? Need a pickup (really?) the difference between one average 18 vs 20 mpg is 10%. If you manage to fit it all in a minivan its 20% saved.

    Considering how little time is actually spent on clear rural interstates, the overall increase for any single person would be dwarfed by an even slightly more fuel efficient car.

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    • Pete April 2, 2015 at 11:31 am

      I get far better mileage in my station wagon than most of my friends with hybrids because they have lead feet. Here in CA a hybrid is merely a tax credit and an excuse to use the HOV lane.

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      • Psyfalcon April 2, 2015 at 1:15 pm

        Of course. But they would get even worse fuel economy with your station wagon than the hybrid.

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  • Alain April 2, 2015 at 11:17 am

    I’m not aware of anyone driving the speed limit on I-5. I drive to Eugene 1-2 a month, and usually drive 70-80 MPH for the better part of the trip. Safe or not, it’s pretty much the norm.

    If “efficiency” is truly at stake here, then why not run Amtrak faster, and add a few more trips per day.

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  • bettie April 2, 2015 at 1:13 pm

    1. you are burning gas either way, and probably more in the road rage rush hour stop and go flow. 2. I’m not biking on the freeway. 3. People are smoking too much pot to drive fast in Portland. 4. Higher speed limits = fewer traffic citations. 5. There is too much traffic on our freeways that we couldn’t go faster anyway. 6. People speed +10 all the time anyway. Therefore, a +10 mph speed limit increase isn’t going to change a whole lot imo. I am also not a Republican nor a Democrat.

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    • Dan April 2, 2015 at 1:37 pm

      Were you born here? I hear that’s important.

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  • SW April 3, 2015 at 6:17 pm

    I wonder whether higher speeds on Freeways translates to higher speeds when off of them (city streets) ??

    Remembering going to the drive-in long ago to see “Gran Prix” , we seemed to drive a lot faster on the way home after the movie.

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  • Hotlikewasabi April 3, 2015 at 11:08 pm

    Oh, for god’s sake! No one in Oregon will drive that fast anyway!! You guys are the slowest drivers I’ve ever seen. 5-10 miles UNDER the speed limit is the norm here. Quit freaking out.

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    • Andy K April 6, 2015 at 7:55 am

      Interesting. How do Oregon Traffic Fatalities per VMT on Freeways stack up against the rest of the nation? (I couldn’t find these stats)

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  • Plo Kiju April 7, 2015 at 7:19 pm

    The politician’s comment about the freeway being designed for higher speeds is not entirely untrue. Freeways that were built during times when the speed limit was higher naturally took into account the dynamics of traffic at that speed.

    One consequence of this is that tight curves (on-ramps, off-ramps, cloverleaf intersections) are banked a little towards the inside, for the same reason racetracks are banked but to a much smaller extent. When the speed limit was lowered, the number of cars sliding off the inside of the curve (mostly in inclement weather… mostly) increased by a small-but-appreciable extent, with a clear-enough cause and effect correlation that some states have lessened the banking angle when renovating those parts of the freeways.

    But Americans are quite illogical about cars… we freak out when a dozen people are killed in a freak non-auto accident – like a collapsing building – but have a huge blind spot where the ~33,000 auto deaths per year are concerned. (That figure is for 2013… the number of deaths has been declining, down from ~55,000/year in the early 70s.)

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  • mee too April 7, 2015 at 11:17 pm

    that sounds like a myth that someone who does not support properly posted maximums would like repeated….

    But the fact is that freeways have always pre and post NMSL been built to a minimum maximum speed rating of 75-80 mph. With safety improvements that min max speed rating has gone up not down. So posting a proper limit limit which matches at least the design max min poses on safety risk whatsoever!

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