Dozens more 15 mph ‘shared streets’ popping up in Portland

(Photos: Jonathan Maus/BikePortland)

The City of Portland continues to tweak and update their Slow Streets Program.

Launched in May 2020 as a response to Covid-induced demand for socially-distanced biking and walking, the Portland Bureau of Transportation first placed rickety signs and plastic barrels at over 100 locations citywide. Then in 2021, with a ringing endorsement from the public on their side, PBOT upgraded them to more robust concrete planters.

The latest update is to ditch the old “Local Access Only” verbiage on the original signs and replace it with a different message. We shared visuals of the new signage back in December when we saw it on a few of the concrete planter diverter installations.

Since then PBOT has been busy swapping out non-concrete locations with the new, yellow “Shared Street 15 mph” signage that includes icons of a bike rider, walkers, and a driver. Note that these are advisory signs only (the yellow color is how you know) which means the 15 mph is not binding law. Most if not all the streets these are installed on still technically have a speed limit of 20 mph.

Just one year ago we reported that this “Shared Street” facility type was extremely rare in Portland. It’s not anymore!

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In the past few weeks the new signs have popped up all over the city. I’ve seen them on residential side streets at Southeast Division and 86th, SE Lincoln and 60th, and on the Alameda Ridge.

I reached out to PBOT Interim Director of Communications and Public Involvement Hannah Schafer to find out what’s going on. She said they’re replacing the signs, “To match more closely with our more permanent Slow Street concrete barrel installations as we do needed maintenance on the temporary installations.”

Why’d they ditch the old signs? Here’s more from Schafer:

“We’ve found the ‘Shared Street’ signs are more understandable for folks and convey a clearer message than ‘Local Access Only’. Local Access Only can be misinterpreted as exclusive to only certain people (i.e. only people who live on the street), while an advisory shared street sign much more clearly states who is welcome and to adjust your speed accordingly. We want all Portlanders to feel welcome to use our shared streets and neighborhood greenways across the city for walking, biking, rolling and strolling!”

— Learn more about PBOT’s Slow Streets program on their website.

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Bjorn
Bjorn
4 months ago

I’d like them to say no thru motor vehicle traffic or something similar. A lot of the worst offenders in terms of scary interactions are people using these shared streets as cut throughs. That is why diverters that prevent motor vehicle traffic are also very effective at improving the experience of using the street.

SolarEclipse
SolarEclipse
4 months ago

These signs have been around my neighborhood, for what 2-3? years now. “Covid-Time” has my internal clock all messed up.
I really wish people would follow them, but they don’t. They are a minor inconvenience as drivers speed around them anyway. They might work if people cared about others more than themselves but with our increasingly narcissistic society, I don’t hold out much hope.

JeffP
JeffP
4 months ago
Reply to  SolarEclipse

Have you ever been able to assess if the majority of offenders are those who actually live on the street? I’ve had some interactions in the past that lead me to believe many (most?) are the very people who live there.

SolarEclipse
SolarEclipse
4 months ago
Reply to  JeffP

I’m going to guess about a 50/50 split between folks that live (or visiting) in the neighborhood and the parents that drop off/pick up their kids at the local school.
The neighborhood isn’t setup very well for people to use as a shortcut.

Fuzzy Blue Line
Fuzzy Blue Line
4 months ago

As has been discussed in numerous BP articles, without additional traffic calming design treatments speed compliance will be low. Absent enforcement (automated or otherwise) drivers using these streets as cut throughs will continue.

ChadwickF
ChadwickF
4 months ago

Is this program still seeking volunteers?
I applied to be a volunteer about, what, a year ago, and never heard anything. I just signed up again in case I screwed up something on my end.
I’m wondering if any of you have heard anything or if anyone has volunteered. Thanks.

J_R
J_R
4 months ago

By definition, black on yellow signs are warning signs. Black on white are regulatory signs. I don’t think one could be successfully prosecuted for exceeding 15 mph based on the presence of a 15 mph warning sign. Assuming, of course, there were ANY enforcement of traffic laws (suggestions?) in Portland.

qqq
qqq
4 months ago
Reply to  J_R

Good point. One photo does show a 15 mph black-and-white sign, but the others just have the yellow. I hope the plan is to replace the yellow ones with permanent black-and-white ones over time.

One photo shows both–a yellow 15 mph one a few feet in front of a black-and-white 20 mph one (I assume 20–only the zero is visible). That gives people a pretty sound argument for ignoring the 15 mph one.

idlebytes
idlebytes
4 months ago

So excited about this. There’s six along one of my most common routes. The temporary ones seem to have helped despite the angry neighbors I’ve came across dragging them out of the road.

Also looks like they made some changes since last July. Most notably there isn’t one on Tillamook at Williams anymore perhaps its an emergency route or too narrow for the Lift buses I’ve frequently seen on it.

Philips
Philips
4 months ago

Just more virtue-signing from PBoT. Those inclined to follow rules and drive cooperatively will continue to do so, while everyone else summarily ignores them.

Mission Accomplished!

cmh89
cmh89
4 months ago

‘Shared Street’ signs are so problematic. Aren’t almost all of our streets ‘shared streets’? What in the world are they even trying to say?

Outside of that the 15 mph advisory things aren’t worth the money it costs to print them and have a city employee set them out. What a huge waste of money.

Andrew Kreps
Andrew Kreps
4 months ago
Reply to  cmh89

Add to that, I’m pretty sure the yellow 15mph sign has a (standard) black and white 20mph sign directly behind it in one of those photos. I wonder which one most folks will follow.

cmh89
cmh89
4 months ago
Reply to  Andrew Kreps

I’m pretty sure the concrete beg barrels say ‘Advisory Speed 15 MPH’ or something to that effect. It’s the most limp-wristed reaction to traffic violence since the ‘cheering for good driving’ fiasco.

I’m pretty sure the actual speed limit is 20 MPH regardless, but there is no traffic enforcement in Portland so who cares really

Watts
Watts
4 months ago
Reply to  cmh89

It’s the most limp-wristed reaction

Could you please explain what you mean by this?

soren
4 months ago
Reply to  Watts

limp-wristed reaction

So many lives would be saved it PBOT reacted in a more GAY manner in response to a public health crisis that kills millions and is largely ignored by the vanilla-straight majority.

Watts
Watts
4 months ago
Reply to  Andrew Kreps

I wonder which one most folks will follow.

Neither.

austin
austin
4 months ago
Reply to  cmh89

“What in the world are they even trying to say?”

Maybe it’s a reminder… I know in my neighborhood, it sometimes feels like the drivers don’t like sharing streets with anyone or anything else. And if first-hand experience didn’t show that to me, a quick trip to NextDoor sure will! YIKES

JP
JP
4 months ago
Reply to  cmh89

I came across one of these signs bolted to a plastic barrel yesterday and had a similar reaction. Particularly in East Portland (which is where I spotted the sign) with its lack of sidewalks, these signs seem pretty weak.

I’d also be curious to know where these kinds of measures fall on the “sharrow” scale. Do these kinds of “share the road” messages actually make anyone safer? Or are they actually correlated with worse safety outcomes (like sharrows – https://usa.streetsblog.org/2016/01/14/study-sharrows-dont-make-streets-safer-for-cycling/)?

EP
EP
4 months ago

Ooh, more signs no one will read.

The only things that (barely) register with drivers are physical objects.

Oh how I wish I could buy a concrete barrel planter for my street.

DIVERTERS, DIVERTERS, DIVERTERS!

matchupancakes
matchupancakes
4 months ago
Reply to  EP
cmh89
cmh89
4 months ago
Reply to  matchupancakes

You can actually get speed bumps pretty cheap

https://www.trafficsafetystore.com/speed-bumps-humps

I’ve been thinking of installing them at the 4-way-stop near me house that motorists routinely blow through at 20+ MPH but I’m not sure how fast the city would get around to removing them. Something tells me that, regardless of how useless the city is for things that benefit us, they’d somehow have the capacity to remove them quickly.

Skeptical Cyclist
Skeptical Cyclist
4 months ago

These are frankly pretty pointless. Actually I often come close to hitting them when I turn onto a road. Dumb.

Angelie P
Angelie P
4 months ago

This is all performative unless there is increased enforcement. It’s so stupid that enforcement is a dirty word to the woke Portland activists and the city council.

Don Courtney
Don Courtney
4 months ago
Reply to  Angelie P

Not just the activists! Like the silicone based, internet generated Kardashian/Jenner aesthetic that no one actually likes has permeated all levels of the media establishment, so too has performative, woke, magical thinking permeated all Oregon officialdom. Seven years ago I had a city worker tell me options to slow my street consisted of free(!) “Slow down” signs, and “possibly even enforcement”. As if it was such a distasteful option even back then. They’ve been schooled. Not sure where, probably literally at school or college. Where did this supposed faith in humanity come from I don’t know.

[Editor: deleted the first sentence of this paragraph] … we are going to have to wait until a few elections and more traffic deaths before the less ideological of these government types finally re-examine.

[Editor: please make your point w/o characterizing other people.] … activists at the nonprofits only dig in deeper so they simply have to fade away, probably after a while there’s gonna be less money in activism (isn’t it amazing that the government is the primary funder of a lot of activist groups that advocate against the popular will? [Editor: deleted last sentence—inflammatory and insulting to groups of people.]

Watts
Watts
4 months ago
Reply to  Don Courtney

Meta note to the editor: I like the clarity and specificity of why you excised portions of the comment. I think it’s s helpful way to delineate the boundaries.

dan
2 months ago