(Photo: Portland Bureau of Transportation)
Five years after it invented the term “neighborhood greenway” and three years after getting permission to set neighborhood greenway speed limits at 20 mph, Portland is putting the phrase directly on its streets.
The city is installing almost 100 of the above signs this week on the N Michigan, N/NE Blandena/Going/Alberta, SE Salmon/Taylor, and SE Bush/100th/101st neighborhood greenways.
Cost: less than $5,000, or about $50 per sign, installation included.
“It just kind of struck me that we have the speed 20 signs in, but they seem to be lacking a context,” city transportation demand management specialist Jeff Smith said Tuesday. Most people, he said, “probably look at it and say, why is it 20 here? If they notice it at all.”
Here’s a closer look at the signs, also from the transportation department’s Twitter feed:
Smith said the cost is so low because the city was able to hang them all from the existing speed limit signposts. Though the green-and-white sign isn’t part of the official manual of American traffic control devices, Smith said that’s not a problem.
“It’s just a white-on-green sign, so it’s informational,” Smith said. “There’s no regulatory nature to it.”
Smith said he started working on the project about a year ago, and used a combination of geograhphical variety and anecdotal complaints about speeding to choose the greenways that would get the new signs first. Now that the city has a rich data set on neighborhood greenway traffic speeds and volumes, he said, he’ll use that to prioritize future sign signs.
“Next winter we’ll do four or five more” greenways, Smith said.
As wonderful as neighborhood greenways are, it seems to me that their biggest challenge is the same as that of a city bus: they’re not highly visible and people aren’t sure where they go, so they’re not very good at recruiting new riders.
The city of Vancouver BC pioneered signage on streets where bicycles have priority. BikePortland’s Jonathan Maus saw the signs first-hand back in 2007. Here’s how Vancouver does it:
We’re glad to see Portland do something similar. It looks like a wonderful way to help tackle the problem of recruiting new riders while also letting people know that they should think of these streets like school zones. Kudos to Smith and to PBOT for this sort of attention to detail.