Esplanade closure begins February 1st

A novel attempt to rally support for higher speeds on Ainsworth

Posted by on September 6th, 2018 at 12:59 pm

(Photo: Jonathan Maus/BikePortland)

I first saw this sign on the Instagram feed of UrbanAdventureLeaguePDX and I just had to see it with my own eyes.

Someone who (I assume) lives in the Concordia neighborhood in northeast Portland has posted this notice on a pole at the intersection of NE Ainsworth and 33rd. It’s a plea for support from someone who thinks speed limits on Ainsworth are too low.

Here’s what it says if you can’t read the image:

“Unhappy with 20 mph on Ainsworth?

Vision Zero and the City of Portland manufactured public consent in a city that has one of the lowest fatality rates in the nation for pedestrians and cyclists.

They have set an impossibly low speed limit on Ainsworth Street (an arterial roadway) and set up numerous automated ticketing stations as a way to fill the city’s coffers with revenue.

At a time, when our schools are underfunding and Portland is experiencing a homelessness crisis they have spent millions in traffic signage and man hours. Call and Tell them enough!”


The sign also provides the phone numbers and emails of Mayor Ted Wheeler and a PBOT traffic engineer named Scott Batson.

For the record, Ainsworth is so narrow that people park with the wheels of their cars up on the grass and fold in their rear-view mirrors. While this person sees Ainsworth as an arterial (and others think bicycle users don’t belong on it at all), we once shared the vision of someone who thinks it should be carfree in the future.

Back to the sign: Wee could easily brush it off as an outlier as it was clearly created by someone who isn’t fully aware of all the facts (Ainsworth is a very narrow neighborhood street adjacent a linear arboretum – far from an “arterial”, and there are not speed cameras anywhere near this location).

But I also think it’s another sign that the war on speeding PBOT has undertaken in the past few years is working. From elevating Vision Zero to a top priority, to the “20 is plenty” residential street speed limit law, PBOT has done a ton of important work to take back the reins of our streets. And I always say if we aren’t angering people who prefer a drive-however-you-want-and-screw-everyone-else status quo, than we aren’t doing enough to change the system.

Usually it’s the safety activists who have to resort to desperate tactics like this. Now the shoe is on the other foot and that’s a great sign.

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

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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. Also, if you comment frequently, please consider holding your thoughts so that others can step forward. Thank you — Jonathan

  • Jason September 6, 2018 at 1:21 pm

    It’ll FIIILLL the city’s coffers! Overflowing with money I tell you!

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    • Dan A September 6, 2018 at 2:52 pm

      Fill coffins, not coffers!

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  • jeff September 6, 2018 at 1:44 pm

    crazy has no boundaries.

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  • John Lascurettes September 6, 2018 at 1:49 pm

    Tell me more of these “numerous automated ticketing stations”. I’ve never seen one. I wish they existed.

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  • Shoupian September 6, 2018 at 1:55 pm

    Scott Batson is now the 2nd most influential person in setting speed limit, only behind Ted Wheeler.

    Also, it’s illegal to post things on public utility poles. If you are unhappy with PBOT, write emails, write letters, call City Hall. Please don’t vandalize public property.

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  • paikiala September 6, 2018 at 2:04 pm

    unpacking the errors:

    ‘Arterial’ is a Federal classification label, Ainsworth is a Local Street under the Federal Classification system. It is also a Local Service street under the City TSP.

    Mobile photo enforcement could be used on Ainsworth, I think PPB has two such vans. Fixed photo radar can only be used on high crash corridors, and only on the few at the top. Ainsworth is not such a street.

    Clearly doesn’t understand how much of a citation the City gets.

    Tens of thousands of dollars so far to change out existing 25s for 20s, remove 25s from power poles, and install new 20’s. Only one engineer is even working on this task.

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    • soren September 6, 2018 at 11:13 pm

      i love it when paikiala unpacks errors. (even mine)

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  • X September 6, 2018 at 2:34 pm

    Get some ticketbots over there, stat, and make them an honest person. Also several dozen No Parking signs. That’ll frost’em.

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  • joan September 6, 2018 at 2:34 pm

    Was it Bob Gunderson?

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  • John Liu September 6, 2018 at 2:40 pm


    Call and email to SUPPORT the 20 mph limit there.

    While we’re at it, how about a bike path on the median?

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    • Andrew Kreps September 6, 2018 at 3:53 pm

      I wasn’t aware there wasn’t one. 😀

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    • Matthew in PDX September 7, 2018 at 9:05 am

      I ride along N Ainsworth between N Williams and N Willamette daily, and occasionally between N Williams and Fernhill Park. I don’t think we have a problem that would be solved by paving over grass in the median to create a bike path/MUP. I’d prefer to leave the grass. Also, there is a bike route on N Holman one block over.

      I think that 20 is plenty on N Ainsworth. N Killingsworth and N Rosa Parks are parallel and designed to take more traffic than N Ainsworth. I still prefer to cycle on N Ainsworth even after the cycling improvements on N Rosa Parks.

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  • PATRICK September 6, 2018 at 2:43 pm

    I proudly drive 20 mph, roll down the window, turn on the Classic Rock & Roll and enjoy sharing my experience with the other drivers behind me on Ainsworth.

    I also frequently bike this street and since almost everyone speeds almost all the time, the 20 mph cools their jets and makes this street bike-able.

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  • Steve September 6, 2018 at 2:43 pm

    It would be a shame if it somehow came unattached from the utility pole… 33rd and Ainsworth you say? Any reports of other places it is/was posted?

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  • bikeninja September 6, 2018 at 2:51 pm

    I wonder how many deaths among vulnerable road users per year does this person think is the cutoff point for lowering speed limits? I mean as long as we are better than Houston or Phoenix does that mean we should turn all our streets in to the autobahn? Also I disagree with this persons use of Chomsky’s term Manufacturing Consent. It was coined by the legendary MIT prof years ago to describe the Military Industrial Complex’s efforts to create support for war though use of the media. The efforts of millions of grass roots citizens to make their neighborhoods safer for walkers, cyclists, children , the handicapped and the elderly is hardly the equivalent of the schemes of the Military Industrial Complex.

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  • jonno September 6, 2018 at 2:52 pm

    I feel like it’s a universal experience in this town to be uncomfortable biking on any street adjacent to a linear park, like Ainsworth or 72nd. There’s got to be a better way – Ainsworth is such a traffic sewer! I never bike on it, I never see anyone walking on the grass, it’s just an oddly abandoned public space surrounded by speeding drivers. Is that just me?

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    • Sara Cowling September 6, 2018 at 3:03 pm

      it isn’t just you. so often I’ve wished for a bike path down that lovely green space, since Ainsworth is almost but not quite great for biking. I get a lot of angry close passing when I try to ride it.

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    • Matthew Denton September 6, 2018 at 3:46 pm

      I bike on it about once a week. Take the lane, go 20, don’t look back.

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  • Middle of the Road Guy September 6, 2018 at 3:22 pm

    More people who think they are victims.

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  • Seth Reynolds September 6, 2018 at 3:49 pm

    I at first thought 20MPH was too slow. Then I got a ticket via a “automatic radar camera van” )what the sign maker is commenting on) for doing 31 in the 20 – $170. I live in the area, ride my bike often, and was at first in the sign-makers camp that 20 was wayyy too slow. Then I got to thinking more about why 20MPH there and I believe it makes sense. The neighborhood is home to many pedestrians, dog walkers, runners, and bikers. I don’t agree it should be closed to car traffic (yet), but it’s the linerar arboretum that makes speeds above 20 dangerous for all other users of the street in terms of sight lines, crossing, etc. As a biker I’d never ride on Ainsworth (plenty of bike paths adjacent). Now when I drive on Ainswprth I set my cruise control to 25 and proudly let the traffic build up behind me.

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    • Matt September 10, 2018 at 5:37 pm

      Umm… So you got a speeding ticket, and you’re still speeding, is what you’re saying?

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  • Ken S September 6, 2018 at 4:19 pm

    I rode Ainsworth, last weekend, and got buzzed by cars a couple times.
    Huge speed signs saying “20MPH”, narrow rode, and a cyclist going 20mph, but some drivers just SEE BIKE PASS BIKE!!!1!!1

    The guy who posted the flyer is clearly seeing what he wants to see.
    Killingsworth and highway 30 are the east/west arterials through this part of town, so if he really needs to drive fast, he has better options;
    Ainsworth is a neighborhood with houses lining both sides of the street.
    It should be common sense that this type of neighborhood needs lower speeds.

    For the record, I think Ainsworth is one of the most fun streets in Portland to ride bikes during spring and fall. Mile after mile of (relatively) low traffic, trees lining the street, either budding and blossoming, or turned bright red, yellow, and orange.

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  • Johnny Bye Carter September 6, 2018 at 6:12 pm

    “people park with the wheels of their cars up on the grass”

    As somebody that lives near a linear arboretum this annoys me.

    I realize that these people are tired of getting their mirrors smashed by people driving fast and wide on a narrow street.

    However, they are making the street wider, and therefore faster. They are destroying the grass on the planting strip so it’s uglier when you’re walking. And it’s illegal, likely because of those reasons.

    It should be noted that these are all people who live in old houses with really long driveways connecting to garages in the back yard. They don’t even need to be parking on the street.

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  • Carter September 6, 2018 at 9:30 pm

    I noticed this same flyer on the bulletin board of the New Seasons on Killingsworth, so this person is posting on more than just utility poles.

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    • Middle of The Road Guy September 7, 2018 at 8:11 am

      Like it or not it is their right (though I am not certain littering posts is a right for anyone, regalldess of message).

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  • Matt September 6, 2018 at 9:38 pm

    Vision Zero would make a whole lot more sense if it focused on actual visibility. Focusing on speed is useless when drivers and cyclists alike can’t see oncoming traffic due to obstructions. I’ve had more close calls due to not being able to see around parked cars too close to intersections/stop signs than I have due to speeding motorists. Most residential intersections require a driver to drive out INTO an intersection to see any oncoming traffic. Any other city and parking like that gets you a ticket. I’ve even seen brand new constructions with freshly planted trees plainly blocking the view of opposing traffic from stop signs and intersections. Lowering a speed limit certainly LOOKS like something is being done. But it’s a very small part of a larger problem.

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    • soren September 6, 2018 at 11:17 pm

      thank you for sharing your completely unsupported opinions.

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      • Middle of The Road Guy September 7, 2018 at 8:12 am

        I see someone mentioning their actual experiences.

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        • Chris I September 7, 2018 at 10:06 am

          Everyone is entitled to their opinions, even if they aren’t correct.

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          • Middle of The Road Guy September 7, 2018 at 10:45 am

            In your opinion, can an opinion be incorrect? In my opinion, it’s simply an opinion. I may not agree with your opinion, because it’s just lke your opinion, man.

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      • Matt September 7, 2018 at 11:02 am

        No, there isn’t a study on my personal experiences. I applaud your ability to find links disputing nothing I said at all (trolling).

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    • mark September 7, 2018 at 8:28 am

      Guess what? There’s actually a law on the books to prevent poor sight lines at intersections. ORS 811.550(17). It’s never enforced because our city values storage of private property over the safety of our road users.

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      • Matt September 7, 2018 at 8:51 am

        I wasn’t certain but thought that might be the case. With increased density, parking, and traffic in residential areas, it’s a real problem. If residents can put “20 is plenty” signs on their lawn, they can do the same to disperse parking from problem intersections.

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      • paikiala September 7, 2018 at 9:28 am

        Guess what? Taking law out of context can lead to errors in conclusions:

        810.160 Controlling parking on highways; limitations. Except as otherwise provided in this section, each road authority has exclusive authority to regulate, control or prohibit the stopping, standing and parking of vehicles upon its own highways.

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        • Dan A September 7, 2018 at 9:36 am

          And yet, this point is still true: “our city values storage of private property over the safety of our road users”.

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        • Dan A September 7, 2018 at 9:42 am

          Incidentally, I disagree with your interpretation. I believe this section is intended as an allowance for the road authority to further restrict parking beyond what is codified by Oregon law, not an allowance for the road authority to defy state law by allowing additional parking where it should not be.

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        • mark September 7, 2018 at 4:58 pm

          Guess what? I couldn’t find anything in the Portland codes that specifically supersedes the Oregon statute. Unless there is a specific local law that contradicts or invalidates it, my understanding is that the state law stands.

          If you could point to something specific, I can admit I was mistaken.

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  • Seager September 7, 2018 at 11:54 am

    That’s not really a novel, more of a flier. 😉

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  • Georgia September 7, 2018 at 2:21 pm

    I’ve been biking in Portland for over a decade and my worst accident was on Ainsworth. A car hit me from behind going full speed. They didn’t even see me. I flew through the air and they barely managed to avoid ruining me over on the pavement because they were still trying to stop.

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  • mark smith September 9, 2018 at 5:33 pm

    It is imperative that we are able to kill others at the fastest speed possible.

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  • Zaphod September 10, 2018 at 10:01 am

    I’m forever amazed/depressed by the selfishness of a small minority of road users. People willing to endanger others lives for a few seconds. And such people do so while in a luxuriously padded chair, not getting rained upon and listening to whatever music or podcast they like. It’s truly effortless to slow down or change lanes to make your fellow citizens safer. I’m 100% behind vision zero

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  • Matt September 10, 2018 at 5:43 pm

    > an impossibly low speed limit

    Dear anonymous sign-poster,

    If your car is unable to move below a given speed, I urge you to take that machine to a competent mechanic, posthaste!

    … But if “impossible” is just your hyperbole for “I don’t like it!” then kindly shove your fliers, and the staples holding them up, into your out-hole.

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