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City of Portland ratchets up their war on speeding

Posted by on March 14th, 2017 at 2:58 pm

Activists with BikeLoudPDX and the Asian Pacific American Network of Oregon rejoice at the sight of new — and lower — speed limit signs on SE Division.
(Photo: BikeLoudPDX)

The City of Portland has unleashed a barrage of attacks against a key rival in their fight against speeding.

With Vision Zero firmly planted as a top priority at the highest levels of city government, the Bureau of Transportation has turned their attention to two of our most dangerous streets: SE Division and SE 122nd.

Here are updates on several speed-related items we continue to track…

Signs are up on Outer Southeast Division
As you can see in our lead photo, the signs are up — and people are happy about it. The day after City Council unanimously passed an emergency ordinance to reduce the speed limit by five miles-per-hour, city crews took down the old signs and put up new ones with high-visibility flags to draw attention to the change.

As per the official city ordinance, PBOT has replaced all the signs between 82nd and 174th (city limits).

But as all smart transportation reformers know, just changing the speed limit isn’t enough to change behavior. So…

Speed cameras now operational on SE Division and SE 122nd

New camera on Division at 156th.
(Photo: PBOT)

Four days after Council voted to lower the speeds, the City of Portland flipped the switch on speed safety cameras at two locations: one on SE Division and the other on SE 122nd of PBOT’s most statistically dangerous “high crash corridors.”

Commissioner Saltzman at a press conference on SE Division March 6th.
(Photo: PBOT)

According to PBOT, the rate of crashes on SE 122nd that involve someone walking is about 50 percent higher than the citywide average. Their crash data also shows that in the over the past decade, more people were seriously injured or killed while driving on SE Division than on any other street.

The new camera at Division and 156th is the second one installed in the city (after Beaverton-Hillsdale Highway) and it was installed four months ahead of schedule. The timeline was sped up due to the “emergency” conditions on the street. Last Monday (3/6), Transportation Commissioner Dan Salztman and Multnomah County Commissioner Jessica Vega Pederson were among the dignitaries and advocates on-hand at a news conference to raise awareness of the cameras and the speeding issue.

About the tragic safety history on Division, Saltzman said, “That’s unacceptable, and it doesn’t have to be this way. The emergency speed reduction on SE Division, coupled with these safety cameras and more improvements coming soon, will save lives.”

The other camera has gone up on SE 122nd near where it crosses the Springwater Corridor path. Both will issue warnings through April 4th. After that, $160 tickets will come in the mail. State law mandates that all revenue from the tickets gets spent to administer the program and/or pay for safety improvements.

Portland Police Bureau steps up enforcement
A key part of PBOT’s anti-speeding efforts on SE Division Street happened on Monday, March 7th. Members of the Portland Police Bureau Traffic Division worked with PBOT on a “Vision Zero traffic safety mission.” For two hours between 7:00 and 9:00 pm, officers focused on Division between 82nd and 148th.

In that time, officers wrote 34 citations for 46 separate violations and handed out 26 written warnings. One driver was cited after traveling at 53 mph in the 30 mph zone.

During the stops, officers educated people about the Vision Zero program. In some cases, they told the offender about the Share the Road Safety Class, which can be taken as part of a diversion program and will wipe the traffic infraction off your record upon completion.

Lower speed limits coming to many more locations

Section of SE 92nd Avenue where PBOT wants to set a lower speed limit.
(Photo: J. Maus/BikePortland)

Along with lower speed limits on Division, enforcement, and the cameras, PBOT has also announced eight new sections of streets where they’ve made official requests with the State of Oregon for lower speeds.

The requests below would drop the speed limit from 35 to 30 mph:
– SE Holgate, 92nd to 136th
– SW Stephenson St, 35th Ave. to Boones Ferry
– SW 35 Ave.Dr., Taylors Ferry to Stephenson
– SW Huber St., Capitol to 35th
– SE 99th/96th, Stark to Division
– SE Woodstock, 57th to 91st
– N Willamette Blvd., Richmond Ave. to Rosa Park
– SE 92nd Ave., Lincoln to Reedway and Tolman to Sun Crest

The requests above are in addition to 13 other speed reduction requests that are still pending with the State of Oregon.

These recent efforts to reduce speeding are just one part of a multi-pronged strategy to improve safety on outer Division and streets citywide. Learn more about the effort at the city’s Vision Zero website.

— Jonathan Maus: (503) 706-8804, @jonathan_maus on Twitter and jonathan@bikeportland.org

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

37 Comments
  • Middle of the Road Guy March 14, 2017 at 3:07 pm

    This is good! Even as a driver, I am pretty appalled at the high speeds many drivers use in the city.

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    • OregonJelly March 18, 2017 at 3:13 pm

      Agreed. There are entirely too many people driving ten mph under the speed limit around here. The idea that speeding is a widespread phenomenon is laughable. It’s next to impossible to even approach the speed limit on the overwhelming majority of streets. But hey… keep telling yourselves that frustrating drivers, removing lanes, and maintaining on-street parking is going to solve anything.

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  • I wear many hats March 14, 2017 at 3:32 pm

    finally!!!!

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  • Todd Boulanger March 14, 2017 at 3:35 pm

    Way to go! – Great news.

    [Speaking as a driver, cyclist AND as a pedestrian who has recently been struck by a driver while crossing in a crosswalk…at a different corridor.]

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    • X March 14, 2017 at 4:38 pm

      Ouch! Sorry to hear that! Are you getting slow? 😉

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  • dwk March 14, 2017 at 3:39 pm

    Good news, now drop the speed limit to 20mph on all neighborhood streets and 15 mph on Greenways…

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    • Adam H.
      Adam H. March 14, 2017 at 4:38 pm

      Agreed, 30mph is still too high.

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      • Hello, Kitty
        Hello, Kitty March 15, 2017 at 10:21 am

        Thirty is flirty.

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        • John Lascurettes March 15, 2017 at 12:53 pm

          Thirty is blood squirty.

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          • Hello, Kitty
            Hello, Kitty March 15, 2017 at 1:17 pm

            I am not joking when I say that I totally hope that one catches on!

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    • paikiala March 15, 2017 at 9:56 am

      So, PBOT’S traffic engineers should stop working on the current backlog to order/collect data (can’t be more than a year or two old), fill out forms, and submit requests to ODOT for each residential street in Portland?
      Why not just get the legislature to change statutory residential to 20 mph?

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      • Hello, Kitty
        Hello, Kitty March 15, 2017 at 10:25 am

        I totally agree. But until that happens, I hope PBOT will undertake a systematic sweep of the city, lowering all speed limits that it can. This would probably require taking a bite of the problem every year for a decade or more. I would start with streets where the city already has data, and start collecting data for next year’s chunk. I’d suggest choosing streets across the city for some sort of geographic parity.

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        • Kate March 15, 2017 at 11:34 am

          Agreed, and that’s part of the Vision Zero strategy that targets Portland’s High Crash Network. No surprise – they tend to be the bigger, faster roads. It was crash data (and the contributing factors behind them – e.g. speed, failure to yield, etc) that designate the network. I’m glad to see some focus on those roads since they tend to the most dangerous and fatal for peds, bikes and auto users.

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      • soren March 15, 2017 at 10:43 am

        paikiala, pbot uses citizen volunteers for its traffic counts. i think there are many volunteers who would be happy to help research, plan, and prepare a speed limit change request.

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        • Kate March 15, 2017 at 11:35 am

          Aren’t volunteers just just for bike counts?

          I think they use tube counters and cameras for other auto counts. I suspect Paikiala would know…

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        • paikiala March 16, 2017 at 2:51 pm

          Citizens don’t count all users 24/7 for 24-48 hours. you’re thinking of bike counts, which are only a couple hours, a few days a year.

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  • SE March 14, 2017 at 5:15 pm

    I came past the 122nd pair (there is first a reader board “Your speed is..” and then a bit later the cameras) last week at 28 MPH (my speedo and their radars reading) …stupid camera flashed at me anyway (it’s a marked 35MPH zone) .

    But today I went thru it at the same 28 MPH and no flash. Both times I was a solo with no surrounding traffic.

    waiting to see if a warning comes in the mail ?

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    • paikiala March 15, 2017 at 9:57 am

      The cameras also flash when they are being tested.

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  • cam March 14, 2017 at 5:25 pm

    Do the speed camera providers get a percentage of the fines?

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    • paikiala March 15, 2017 at 10:06 am

      Flat fee per citation, up to $27, see page 10:

      https://www.portlandoregon.gov/auditservices/article/538290

      The courts determine the final citation amount.

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      • El Biciclero March 19, 2017 at 8:14 am

        Wow, that is a great document. It is interesting that these cameras don’t necessarily break even every year, which kind of goes against the argument that red light cameras are a “money-making scheme” (except for the camera vendor). It also sounds ambiguous to me to read about a “fixed, per-camera lease fee that totals $264,000 per year…” Does that mean $264k per camera, per year? Or does it mean, given the city’s static number of cameras, that the total lease amount for all cameras for a year is $264k?

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        • SE March 19, 2017 at 10:00 am

          For every citation paid or partially paid, the State receives the first
          $60 of the citation revenue, with the balance split evenly between
          the State and the City. The State’s share of the split goes into the
          State Criminal Fine Account, whose revenues are distributed to many
          agencies, including the Circuit Court.
          The vendor is paid two ways: a fixed per-camera lease fee, which
          totals $264,000 per year, and a variable per-citation fee determined
          on a sliding scale based on the number of paid citations. The high-
          est amount is $27. As more citations are paid, the per-citation fee
          declines.

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          • El Biciclero March 20, 2017 at 9:04 am

            Yes, I read that, but is the $264k paid to lease the cameras the true total, or is it the per-camera fee? I have to imagine that there are a static number of cameras, and that $264k cannot possibly be the lease for a single camera, therefore, $264k must be the overall total paid in lease fees for the entire batch of cameras for a year. The wording in the report just seemed ambiguous to me; maybe it’s just me. Is it hot in here?

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  • Dan A March 14, 2017 at 6:28 pm

    If you are driving 53 in a 30, you might be a psychopath. I kind of feel like we should remove the driver from their vehicle, impound it, and let them find another way home.

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    • Chris I March 14, 2017 at 7:50 pm

      I think sociopath would be more accurate. Many otherwise normal people turn into sociopaths when they get behind the wheel.

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  • rick March 14, 2017 at 8:24 pm

    Please lower the speed limits on car-dominated SW roads. Just across the Portland city limits, many roads in Washington county have lower speed limits of a 5 mph difference: SW Taylors Ferry, Scholls, BH Highway, Hamilton. More enforcement !

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  • rachel b March 15, 2017 at 2:06 am

    I was actually glad for the loud PGE work going on near my house most of the day because it slowed down the speed demons on SE 26th.

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  • rick March 15, 2017 at 11:00 am

    I wish the suburbs had a war on drivers and motorcycle riders speeding.

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  • Doug Klotz March 15, 2017 at 4:54 pm

    It’s amazing how many arterials are signed at 35. Not saying it’s right, but you’d expect it on SE Chavez. But SE 50th from Hawthorne to Division? Also 35!

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    • Hello, Kitty
      Hello, Kitty March 15, 2017 at 4:55 pm

      Both should be 30, if not 25.

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    • paikiala March 16, 2017 at 2:52 pm

      30 has been requested.

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  • Tim Davis March 15, 2017 at 11:32 pm

    Thanks for the picture, fellow awesome BikeLoudPDX folks (I’m on the far right end), and the wonderful article, as always, Jonathan! And it was fun going to a local Chinese restaurant and solving Portland’s transportation problems together. 🙂 And thanks so much, Ted, for the hilarious ride down Powell on the back of your sweet hauler bike! 🙂

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  • Killingsworth Walker March 17, 2017 at 5:47 pm

    I hope the cameras help… Almost 6 months ago Killingsworth got a drop from 30mph to 20mph between MLK and Interstate (which is great because of the student population at Jefferson and PCC) and yet everyone still drives well over 30mph (especially coming and going to I5) as there is no enforcement.

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  • OregonJelly March 18, 2017 at 3:07 pm

    “With Vision Zero firmly planted as a top priority at the highest levels of city government ”

    BS. You wouldn’t have the visibility of the majority of crosswalks in town blocked by on-street parking if this was your top priority.

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    • Hello, Kitty
      Hello, Kitty March 18, 2017 at 3:16 pm

      Top priority is not the same as only priority. You have to weigh the benefit of parking reduction vs. its cost, and it may be that the cost to a lower priority is not worth the benefit to your top priority.

      That said, I doubt anyone has reviewed all the city’s parking in the context of VZ given how new the policy is, so I wouldn’t assume it evidence of true prioritization.

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