A 17 mph cushion for speeding in the Central City

Screenshot from PPBCentralBikeSquad on Instagram.

Just how normalized has the dangerous act of speeding become? The other day a Portland Police officer posted up on the Burnside Bridge to catch speeders and decided they wouldn’t pull anyone over unless they were going 47 mph — that’s 17 mph over the posted speed limit.

I’ve known for many years that police never set out on traffic enforcement missions with a plan to cite people going 1-2 mph over the speed limit. I recall years ago when I joined a PPB officer for a ride-along they agreed (arbitrarily) at a meeting before the shift that they’d allow 9 mph over the limit before they pulled anyone over. But 17 mph? On a busy road in the central city?

And unlike in the days before social media, this is very public knowledge. I learned about this officer on Burnside because they posted a video of themselves on Instagram (below). In case you haven’t heard, a group of Central Precinct officers has quite a large following on their PPBCentralBikeSquad account. It’s a very interesting account that gives us a behind-the-scenes look into life on the streets downtown.

Last week a motorcycle officer posted that he was looking for people going 17 mph or more over the speed limit. Then in the comments, someone asked the officer why they gave such a large cushion.

“I measure the flow of traffic and then add 10,” the officer wrote back. “It’s a 30. Was getting a lot of 35-37, so I decided to stop folks at 47 mph, 10 higher than the flow.”

I reached out to the officer from the video and he shared a bit more about his thinking:

“I can only stop so many cars, so I like to focus on the higher-level violators. Especially in areas like the Burnside Bridge where bikes have to mix with cars trying to go right on NW 3rd Ave. When I do the Morrison Bridge, for example, it’s a 25 mph construction zone. Nearly everyone is doing 10 over and I can’t pull over every person, so I’m looking for people who are at those higher speeds since we both know how much excessive speeds are a factor in crashes, especially fatalities.”

That seems reasonable.

The only other rationale I’ve heard for giving a large cushion before writing citations — beyond prioritizing the worst offenders — is that officers want to make sure the citations hold up in traffic court. That is, if a defendant contests the ticket in court, it’s much more likely a judge will uphold the citation if the person was clearly driving well beyond the posted limit. Portland-based lawyer and bike law expert Charley Gee speculated the officer set a high limit to make any argument about their radar gun being out of calibration less likely to serve as a defense.

Whatever the rationale, the whole thing has just never sat well with me. And this many people are going 47 mph in a 30 mph zone of Burnside in the city? That’s just bonkers. The typical stopping distance for a car user going 47 mph is about 170 feet — that’s the length of nearly two full NBA courts. At 30 mph that distance is about 75 feet and a human has about twice the chance of survival versus someone hit by a driver at 45-50.

To be clear, I don’t blame the PPB for this. They are doing triage in a system overwhelmed with dangerous behaviors. And this officer is just a tiny cog in a vast culture of motonormativity where the things people do inside cars is just ignored as ‘the way things are.’

You might be thinking that automated enforcement cameras might be the answer here. After all, they don’t have to prioritize like a human officer does. But nope, those cameras are regulated by humans, so they are programmed with the same pro-speeding tendencies.

Remember in 2017 when the Oregon Legislature passed a bill allowing cities to use automated cameras to enforce traffic laws — but the law included a provision where people are only cited at 11 mph and over? In that story we heard from Beaverton Police Chief Jim Monger:

“The idea of issuing a citation of someone traveling at a lower speed of 9 or 8 miles per hour… frankly, I feel like you’d be very hard-pressed to find an officer — or even a deputy or a state trooper — that would issue a citation for that minimal amount. Just normally driving through a city it is not uncommon to have your speed creep up a little bit. Technically you’re violating a traffic law; but is it reasonable to issue a citation? So it gets to that reasonableness…. that’s why that particular number was selected.”

So blame it on “reasonableness” I guess. Sorry, but that doesn’t make me feel any better. Right now, the more people that speed, the fewer people get caught. That just isn’t right no matter how you explain it.

Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor)

Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor)

Founder of BikePortland (in 2005). Father of three. North Portlander. Basketball lover. Car owner and driver. If you have questions or feedback about this site or my work, feel free to contact me at @jonathan_maus on Twitter, via email at maus.jonathan@gmail.com, or phone/text at 503-706-8804. Also, if you read and appreciate this site, please become a supporter.

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J1mb0
J1mb0
11 months ago

I really like the Strong Towns take on this. We still use engineering standards for roads that were set back when drunk driving was legal and accepted. They are wide lanes with clearances so if you are drunk and you run off the road at high speeds you will have less chance of death or injury. The result is roads that feel really comfortable at high speeds. If we wanted to really reach Vision Zero, put a spike onto every steering wheel. Short of that, design our roads so that they feel uncomfortable to drive on at speeds above the limit. You can use those 85th percentile studies to see if you need more traffic calming.

David Hampsten
11 months ago
Reply to  J1mb0

I live in a community where the local traffic engineers restripe re-paved streets to lane widths of no more than 10 feet wide – if the right-hand curb lane is wider than that, they add an edgeline or fogline, not quite a bike lane but it looks similar – for precisely that reason, to slow down car drivers to the posted speed limit of 30 or 35 mph. A small number of our stroads even have 9-foot lanes, the absolute minimum required by the feds. The center turn lanes are also made 10 feet wide.

Myth Dispulsion
Myth Dispulsion
11 months ago
Reply to  J1mb0

The Strong Towns guy overdoes it and there are other problems with Strong Towns, but the key feature, the psychological aspect to lane width and other road features, and how it’s related to traffic calming, is valuable. The graph from at least one study, on crashes at intersections, with the J- or U-shaped relation to crashes and street widths, was very useful, not totally dated for today’s vehicle size, either, since before the first oil crunch at the end of the Golden Era and the later start of CAFE, full-size cars (not trucks or SUVs, but sedans and coupes) were wide.

On the other hand, consider the lower quality of drivers now and add the new E-distractions that include touch screens to the situation today. Note also that wide right lanes (14-16 feet or more) have been manna to cyclists, and support buses and trucks, and that includes on collector lanes as well as on arterial right lanes. (Transit as well as school buses, transit buses that can carry your bikes with you)

Now consider the smallest streets. Too narrow is hazardous or worse, particularly when you consider the growth of vehicle size in more recent years, particularly. These have to be accommodated at curb side and with traffic using the street at the same time, passing vehicles parked on both sides. Developers are happy to skimp on roadway width to squeeze another row or two of houses into their projects.

Narrowing may get some motorists to slow down, but don’t don’t rush, think first.

Michael
Michael
11 months ago

I suppose I can understand the reasoning behind selectively targeting the worst offenders, but I think I have to respectfully disagree that it’s actually the best way to do “triage,” as Jonathan put it. If the norm becomes “nine you’re fine, ten you’re mine,” then that’s going to give people the sense that they can push that boundary. It’s only a matter of time until that buffer creeps up to fifteen, twenty, as we’ve seen here. On the other hand, if traffic enforcement cracks down and enforces the letter of the law (and let the lawyers deal with what happens in the courtroom) then word will get out and everyone will slow down. People will be a lot less willing to test the boundaries of how fast they can really go on the Burnside Bridge if people start getting pulled over for going 31 mph through there.

If an officer is sitting in a spot, observing for illegal behavior but not otherwise engaged with something of a high priority, witnesses that illegal behavior, and continues to just sit there and wait, that’s a failure. It may be a failure of the officer to do their job, the laws to adequately communicate the social norms we’re expected to follow, the traffic engineering to create a safe environment for people using the public right of way, or whatever, but it’s a failure somewhere along the line.

Myth Dispulsion
Myth Dispulsion
11 months ago
Reply to  Michael

Worst should be first. There can be a waiting rule, too, for other offenders and this ought to have been studied by now and the typical waiting time to use to go after other offenders established. (Time between offenders surpassing the threshold)

Surly Ogre
su
11 months ago

lore ipsum so sorry 🙁

Thomas
Thomas
11 months ago

This is selective enforcement. If “nearly everyone” is breaking the law, then the police can justify pulling over anyone they want, and the criteria they use might not always be excessive speeding.

To avoid this, what we need is consistent enforcement and the best way to implement that is with speed cameras that automatically issue citations to everyone exceeding the posted limits.

Pierre Lathau
Pierre Lathau
11 months ago
Reply to  Thomas

So pulling over everyone going 17 mph or more over the limit is construed by you as “police can justify pulling over anyone they want and the criteria they use might not always be excessive speeding.” ?

That is not a logical analysis of the situation presented.

John
John
11 months ago
Reply to  Pierre Lathau

How is that not a completely precise analysis of the situation? It means they are free to pull over basically anyone for any reason. That is a simple fact, it’s not a matter of opinion. If as a matter of practice they tend to only pull over people going 17 over (in this case), that doesn’t mean they can’t arbitrarily decide to pull over someone they feel like only going 11 over. And they can make that decision any way they want, which is the definition of selective enforcement.

Thomas
Thomas
11 months ago
Reply to  Pierre Lathau

The police claim, at this moment, that they are choosing to only pull over law-breakers going 17 mph over the limit. But that’s not a formal policy and they could change their mind at any time and use other criteria instead. Since they have the legal justification to pull over “nearly everyone” they can pick any reason they want to and that reason can change moment to moment.

Myth Dispulsion
Myth Dispulsion
11 months ago
Reply to  Thomas

What’s being discussed is police pulling over people for speeding 17 mph or more.

surly ogre
surly ogre
11 months ago

we need cameras that issue tickets to everyone going +5 over the speed limit. The fines from this program should go to buy more cameras and pay for more bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure.

pierre delecto
pierre delecto
11 months ago
Reply to  surly ogre

PBOT has installed a mere 7 cameras in…what…6 years? Perhaps the primary barrier to pervasive speed cameras is PBOT itself. You’d think after the farcical failure of the unfunded Vision Zero Plan people would have less faith that this city is interested in stopping traffic violence.

Anonymous
Anonymous
11 months ago
Reply to  surly ogre

If you really want to live in a police state, why don’t we also set up cameras at EVERY stop sign in town and ticket bicyclists that don’t come to a full stop?

SD
SD
11 months ago
Reply to  Anonymous

You may want to check which state you are commenting in, anonymous.

pierre delecto
pierre delecto
11 months ago
Reply to  Anonymous

Another great example of driver ignorance of basic traffic law. It’s legal for people cycling to treat a stop as a yield in Oregon.
Deal with it, anonymouse.

John
John
11 months ago

Technically you’re violating a traffic law; but is it reasonable to issue a citation?

The answer is yes, glad I could clear that up. That would be completely reasonable! The “speed limit” literally has the definition in the phrase. It’s the “limit”. You don’t go above it. You are free to go below it, and a 5mph buffer for something like radar gun calibration makes perfect sense, but we should be treating this like the limit it is.

officers want to make sure the citations hold up in traffic court.

Radar guns haven’t gotten worse, so there is no excuse for the 17mph buffer. Especially when we’re talking places with a speed limit like 25 or 30, that’s more than 50% over the limit.

And I disagree that it is reasonable for the cops to only go after the highest speeders. They should be handing out tickets as fast as they can. That literally encourages everyone to speed. It says you can go as fast as you want if everyone else is doing it and you don’t stand out. People need to feel like their absolute speed is what will determine if they get a ticket. That has the added benefit that the average speed will also decrease as a result.

Randi J
Randi J
11 months ago

This is the repercussions what of what our elected leaders did by “de-emphasizing” (eliminating entirely) traffic enforcement in Portland. Voters are the ones to blame as this is who we elected and they did what they said they would. Now almost everyone exceeds the posted limit and many wonder why we are seeing traffic violence records? It’s just not that complicated. SPEED KILLS!

pierre delecto
pierre delecto
11 months ago
Reply to  Randi J

It’s a 30 [mph zone]…so I decided to stop folks at 47 mph

The portland police who are just “going with the flow” evidently do not give a tiny @#$% about traffic law or traffic safety. It’s always someone else’s fault when it comes to the popo.

Watts
Watts
11 months ago
Reply to  Randi J

“Voters are the ones to blame as this is who we elected”

Just curious if you think the other candidate for mayor (“I am Antifa!”) would have directed the police to get tough on traffic crime.

John
John
11 months ago
Reply to  Watts

Not that it matters, but I do think that, absolutely. She was a cyclist herself and would prioritize pedestrian / transit users. That may have been in the form of traffic camera emphasis, but regardless it’s pretty wild to think someone who actually cares about addressing problems like climate change would be as bad on this issue as someone like Wheeler.

Dave Fronk
Dave Fronk
11 months ago
Reply to  John

Since losing her second mayoral bid, Iannarone has advocated to keep tents blocking Safe Routes to Schools.

In addition from the ridiculous and dangerous outcomes of forcing kids to walk in the street rather than move a tent off a sidewalk… guess who’s often homeless?

https://www.oregonlive.com/news/2023/06/hundreds-of-oregon-sex-offenders-left-homeless-unable-to-find-housing.html?outputType=amp

Randi J
Randi J
11 months ago
Reply to  Watts

Good point. It would have been MUCH worse with Sarah Inarone as mayor. (Hard to believe but true).

Daniel Fuller
Daniel Fuller
11 months ago
Reply to  Randi J

PPB did not “de-emphasize” traffic enforcement. The policy shift specifically de-emphasized minor violations such as a broken taillight to focus enforcement efforts on “speeding, DUI, distracted driving, [and] failure to obey traffic control devices”. I guarantee that speeding is not a new phenomenon and occurs everywhere regardless of who the elected leaders are.

https://bikeportland.org/2021/06/22/portland-police-will-de-emphasize-minor-traffic-violations-in-move-toward-racial-justice-334064

idlebytes
idlebytes
11 months ago
Reply to  Daniel Fuller

The official policy may have been to focus on more serious crimes but if you’ve been paying attention they stopped focusing on any traffic violations until they got the commissioners they didn’t like voted out. Isn’t it curious that they were able to re-open the traffic division despite not having any new officers actual out working? Even though crime rates are still as high or higher than they were when they disbanded it? It’s pretty obvious they sat on their hands and let the city go to hell till they got the people they wanted out and their replacements with the funding priorities they wanted in.

Watts
Watts
11 months ago
Reply to  idlebytes

“let the city go to hell till they got the people they wanted out and their replacements with the funding priorities they wanted in.”

That’s one interpretation, with no evidence to support it, but regardless, if that’s what they did, it totally worked, and most Portlanders seem none the wiser, completely taken in by the lie (if your theory is correct) that the police are short staffed. It probably helped that the media all seem to have fallen for the ruse as well.

So… We’ll played, PPB.

Watts
Watts
11 months ago
Reply to  Daniel Fuller

“PPB did not “de-emphasize” traffic enforcement.”

Disbanding the Traffic Division does sound a bit like ” deemphasizing”.

Andrew S
Andrew S
11 months ago
Reply to  Randi J

I don’t think your point holds up. In most places in the USA, speeding is normalized, and most people drive well over the speed limit. In many places I’ve lived in or traveled to speeding is significantly worse than in Portland. We should definitely be doing better, and I’m certainly not opposed to enforcing speeding, but it is likely that the built environment and social normalization of bad driving behavior have more of an effect on speeding than any changes to the PPB in recent years.

Iconyms
Iconyms
11 months ago
Reply to  Andrew S

Yep and if 90%+ of the cars are over the speed limit it’s simply a clear sign that the majority are in favor of a higher speed limit on that road, considering we live in a democracy we should really only have laws that the majority support.

Jay Cee
Jay Cee
11 months ago

This is why we need more speed cameras around town (in addition to traffic cops). Cops can’t be everywhere, and as they said, they would be writing tickets all day if they pulled over all the speeding drivers (heaven forbid).

Setting a 17mph threshold over the speed limit on a city street sends a deadly message to drivers of what is expected of them. Cameras actually CAN write a ticket for everyone speeding, all day and all night 365 days a year.

Have cops focus on the most dangerous people on the roads, let the cameras ticket everyone else speeding.

J_R
J_R
11 months ago

I’m a traffic engineer and I first used a radar speed gun fifty years ago when they wee calibrated with a tuning fork. Modern ones are foolproof. I have conducted scores of speed studies and measured thousands of vehicles. I have never seen a questionable reading. Sorry but inaccurate readings of speed guns are not a thing.

maxD
maxD
11 months ago

In Vancouver BC, a cop would stand on the side of the road with a radar gone and motion for a whole bunch of speeding cars to all pull over. There were a few motorcycle cops ready to track anyone not wanting to comply. Once there were 10 cars or so pulled over, they each got a ticket. THAT makes a strong impression on the driving public!

qqq
qqq
11 months ago
Reply to  maxD

Almost as good as what happened to Steven Wright:
https://youtu.be/F5ErMolRE8M?t=157

AZ
AZ
11 months ago
Reply to  maxD

I’ve seen this in Vancouver, Washington too. We simply need people motivated to do their job, or replace them with computers where possible (like much of traffic enforcement).

Dan B
Dan B
11 months ago

The road in front of my house is marked 25 m.p.h. because it is a country residential road, and it’s also where the Tour De Dungy is held yearly. Cyclist, pededtrian, wildlife , tourists, and local residents of the area frequent this stretch of road, and where 40-50 m.p.h. is the norm for most drivers. Some drivers reach double those speeds on this two lane country road after dark.
There is also a group of motorcyclists that enjoy pulling wheelies and drag racing through the same area. Calls to the sheriff are met with “No one would drive that fast”, or ” We just don’t have enough officers.” I have offered solutions such as speed humps, stop signs/lights, and narrowing barriers, but the county doesn’t want the responsibility. Who will take the responsibility when the body bags fill? Allowing police un-bridled descretion is why drivers can kill cyclists and it’s just a sad accident.

Chris I
Chris I
11 months ago
Reply to  Dan B

DIY speed bumps.

Dan B
Dan B
11 months ago
Reply to  Chris I

Chris, I’ve been warned by Clallam County that any action on my part would make me financially responsible for any accident created by my actions, including adding speed signs. The county prefers inaction! Last night at 9:30 (Thursday) two cars, a Dodge Challenger and a Honda Civic, were racing past the house at 60 mph plus. They were well over the 25mph limit on a narrow country road with deep ditches… I guess this follows me because we had the same issues on 164nd Avenue in Vancouver a few years ago.

p.s. I see this traffic because the road is 200 feet in front of a picture window that also faces the Strait of Juan de Fuca…

Patrick
Patrick
11 months ago
Reply to  Dan B

You’re assuming they can prove it was you that put then there. That would at minimum require the cops to do their jobs, but even if they did what evidence would there be?

Peter
Peter
11 months ago

The argument about making any prosecutions impervious to accusations of poor accuracy made me curious about the specs for these LIDAR guns.
A quick search found this article from earlier this week, which shows the back of one of the units that PPB uses: https://katu.com/news/local/vehicle-along-i-205-pulled-over-for-driving-at-100-mph-portland-police-say-multnomah-county-oregon#
After a bit of digging I’m reasonably confident that it’s an UltraLyte LR 20 20, and several sources show its accuracy as ±1mph. The sources are:

  1. A site that sells them: https://policeradarrepair.com/product/lti-ultralyte-lr-20-20-laser/
  2. User manual, page 53: https://www.toronto.ca/wp-content/uploads/2019/04/975e-UL-LRB-2nd-Edition.pdf

So provided it has a current certification/calibration, any speeding 2mph over the limit caught with one of these devices should be prosecutable.

Jim Calhoon
Jim Calhoon
11 months ago
Reply to  Peter

While radar guns are accurate speedometers in vehicles are not. Speedometers accuracy can vary as much as 10% or more. Some of this is due to tire diameter. Even if you replace your tires with original size the diameter can vary by inches. I think this why many years ago the buffer for speeding was 5 mph. I like use a GPS in my vehicles for speed reference. My two Subaru’s are 2 to 3 mph off from the GPS Speed while my F150 is closer to 5 mph difference (differences measured at highway speeds). Think of it this way. When you set up a bike computer the most accurate way to calibrate the speed is by measuring the circumference of the tire. And even with the technology found in new cars only a few can be calibrated using expensive tuning device. Jeep does offer a les expensive device just to recalibrate the speed. This is because a large number of Jeep owners will swap in larger diameter tires. I think that the speed above the limit should use a sliding scale. Start with 5 mph for slower limits (i.e. 20 MPH) with a max of 9 mph for higher speed roads (55 MPH and above)

Dan B
Dan B
11 months ago
Reply to  Jim Calhoon

My Subaru Outback and F150 are always off from the local speed signs. Fortunately I’m always slower than what the speed signs read. I use a speedometer app. and satellites if I want accuracy.

Daniel Fuller
Daniel Fuller
11 months ago

Breaking the law is OK if you’re in the majority, I guess. This really shows the problem of design speed vs. posted speed. We need better traffic calming and mode separation yesterday. In the meantime I propose full automated traffic enforcement with tickets starting at 5 mph over the limit (and reduce the posted speed to 20 mph citywide). Then you can still be a little rebel against the nanny state in your emotional support truck without endangering public health and safety.

https://nacto.org/publication/urban-street-design-guide/design-controls/design-speed/

Iconyms
Iconyms
11 months ago
Reply to  Daniel Fuller

How would that work with motorcycles etc. where you can’t see faces? I suppose with them being a minority most would generally slow to the general car speeds.

Fluidity
Fluidity
11 months ago

Isn’t that similar to how traffic detection works? The sooner you are detected at a traffic light, the more likely you’ll keep it green? The fundamental traffic detection principles encourage speeding in that way…

J_R
J_R
11 months ago
Reply to  Fluidity

You clearly have no understanding of how a traffic signal works. By the way, repeatedly pushing on a pedestrian button does not cause it to turn green more quickly.

Fluidity
Fluidity
11 months ago
Reply to  J_R

Are you sure?

J_R
J_R
11 months ago
Reply to  Fluidity

Absolutely. I was the traffic engineer in charge of a system with more than 100 signals.

Trike Guy
Trike Guy
11 months ago
Reply to  J_R

Lol – when my GF and I are walking somewhere she will *Always* hit the button after seeing me do it.

Apparently I don’t press them well enough. 🙂

Mike Quigley
Mike Quigley
11 months ago

Can’t understand the reluctance to enforce traffic laws when it is so easy, and can be so lucrative for city coffers.

Watts
Watts
11 months ago
Reply to  Mike Quigley

Do you really want the city to fill its budget hole by issuing fines? Do you not see the potential for perverse incentives?

Randi J
Randi J
11 months ago
Reply to  Watts

Well better that then more taxes on hardworking law abiding taxpayers.

Watts
Watts
11 months ago
Reply to  Randi J

At least until they need to find 500 more “lawbreakers” to give PBOT the money to buy a new peice of equipment.

Mike
Mike
11 months ago

Getting a speeding ticket is just a crap shoot anyhow. I got a radar camera ticket on Shattuck when I was going well under the speed limit. The radar triggered on a car that was passing me. I went to court with my 2 passengers as witnesses and the 3 radar photos showing the passing car behind me, even with me and then ahead. The officer in the radar car lied that he could see that I was obviously speed and that the passing car would not tigger the radar. The judge ignored everything except what the police said and upheld the fine. It appears that you can go 45 in a 30 zone but still get a ticket while going 20 in a 25. Sadly I don’t think this sort of thing is limited to traffic offenses. It probably applies to much of the justice system.

Myth Dispulsion
Myth Dispulsion
11 months ago
Reply to  Mike

Speed cameras integrated with license plate readers — build a better mouse trap

SD
SD
11 months ago

This is a fantastic example of how reactionary interventions fail to mitigate harm.

People have personal experiences and see that traffic violations are out of control and demand that something be done!

The most simple and satisfying imagined remedy is a police officer catching and punishing the wrong-doer. – Almost as satisfying as imaging doling out justice yourself.

This imagined scenario is so satisfying that people exaggerate the effect size and presume that the few times this happens will 1) substantially deter law-breaking 2) remove law-breakers from the environment by changing their behavior or limiting access 3) can be scaled up to have a meaningful impact.

However, as this story illustrates, the outliers and the risk/ harm they create are determined by the mean. If the average driver is 10 mph over, then the outliers are more than 20 mph over.

People who speed and behave badly on roads do so relative to other drivers. Sure, sometimes people are checking their speedometer, but most decisions and the feeling of driving fast are relative to other drivers. Passing people and how quickly people are passed pushes the dopamine button more than numbers on a screen. And their personal sense of risk is also a feeling that is relative to the mean.

We will never have, have never had or be able to afford enough one on one traffic enforcement to make drivers operate safely. Not that reactionary enforcement shouldn’t be a part of an overall strategy, it just shouldn’t be expected to meaningfully reduce dangerous driving.

Real impactful solutions would target reducing the means that raise risk, and would include policy that reduces average speed, mass and impulsive decisions of drivers. Narrow roads, smaller, lighter vehicles, speed governors, restrictions on acelleration, no right on red, restrictions on advertising similar to cigarettes, structural prioritization of transportation modes that are inherently safer like buses, bikes, walking, trains.

Serenity
Serenity
11 months ago

I guess that means I have to go follow their account now.

Bstedman
Bstedman
11 months ago

The problem is that it is socially acceptable to go 10 miles over the speed limit and 90% of drivers got 5-10 miles over. Everybody treats the speed limit as a minimum and have never heard of going below if conditions require it (like darkness, rain, people in the street). As long as grandmas and moms in minivans think it’s acceptable behavior, it won’t change. Add to that our really confusing speed limits that change every few yards (in Germany you have basically just two speed limits in cities, 20 mph in neighborhoods and 30 mph on main streets). That means people tune out speed limit signs and drive whatever the streets allow, which is a lot on our wide, straight streets. Also, in Germany you get speeding tickets when you are 10% over the speed limit, not 10 miles. Makes much more sense since 10 miles more on a freeway is much less of an issue than 10 miles more on a neighborhood street.

Myth Dispulsion
Myth Dispulsion
11 months ago
Reply to  Bstedman

Can be related to speedometer error as well

AZ
AZ
11 months ago

We need many, many more speed cameras. This city is so dangerous to travel around the last couple of years. It’s absurd we’ve let it get to this point.

Myth Dispulsion
Myth Dispulsion
11 months ago
Reply to  AZ

Add red light cameras and so nice if possible, stop-sign cameras, though good luck identifying miscreant cyclists as one does the motorists using license plate readers.

qqq
qqq
11 months ago

But it’s often legal for cyclists to ride past stop signs without stopping. And while people biking through without stopping (in the cases where stopping is required) can be dangerous, even to people besides the rider, it’s not nearly the safety issue that driving through without stopping is.

X
X
11 months ago

Your “miscreant cyclists” aren’t killing 100 people a day in the US. Fatal bike-pedestrian cyclist crashes are so rare that each one is a national news story.

Conflicts between bike riders and other road users do happened. They can generally be classified as ‘bad manners’ as opposed to ‘fatal tragedy’.

Brighton West
Brighton West
11 months ago

Put that office in the speed camera van and even at the minimum 11mpg over, he’d be issuing many more tickets to drivers going significantly over the posted limit.

And there would be no risk of violence during a traffic stop.

Let’s put our resources to best use. The speed van catches the guy going 17 over plus a heck of a lot more people driving dangerously.

I don’t understand why the speed van isn’t in use every day!

ShadowsFolly
ShadowsFolly
11 months ago
Reply to  Brighton West

With so many cars being stolen, not having license plates, or other means that would prevent the identification of the owner/driver seems pointless to just take a picture when nothing will come of it.
Pulling over might tend to get the more dangerous off the streets (well at least in my fantasy world they would).

Myth Dispulsion
Myth Dispulsion
11 months ago
Reply to  Brighton West

Dummy or “reverse decoy” vans could be added so long as they boost compliance.

Mark Remy
Mark Remy
11 months ago

“Just normally driving through a city it is not uncommon to have your speed creep up a little bit.”

Jesus Christ.

Iconyms
Iconyms
11 months ago

Sounds like the problem is the speed limit is set too low for the road as it is.

As a democratic society if there is a law that 98% of us are breaking then we collectively clearly don’t think it should be illegal.

In fact plenty of studies show driving too slow can also create safety concerns compared to driving with the flow of traffic.

SD
SD
11 months ago
Reply to  Iconyms

-The Ballad of the Car Sewer

blumdrew
blumdrew
11 months ago
Reply to  Iconyms

Lots of baked in assumptions there – primarily that the speed limit on a road only affects drivers!

“Plenty of studies” – okay, should be easy for you to cite one then. When I drive, I always drive the speed limit. If the flow of traffic is too fast for that, they ought to slow down to the speed limit – not vise versa.

Iconyms
Iconyms
11 months ago
Reply to  blumdrew

Wow talk about projecting… I never anywhere said anything about the speed limit of a road only affecting drivers haha. That’s what I call an assumption. Projecting + inability. [Moderator: removed last phrases]

Just goggle “Solomon curve”

pierre delecto
pierre delecto
11 months ago
Reply to  Iconyms

Solomon curve”

Sigh.
Just google “urban street” and “rural highway” to learn about the enormous differences between these transportation environments.

Iconyms
Iconyms
11 months ago
Reply to  pierre delecto

Wow what is with so much condescension and bad faith assumptions here? I never claimed these road types were the same. Of course having similar studies done on Urban streets would be significant but we don’t have the same data there.

PS regardless of road type your a monster for putting a dog on your roof.

qqq
qqq
11 months ago
Reply to  Iconyms

I think one thing people are trying to point out is large numbers of people using urban streets aren’t driving. If 98% of people are breaking the speed limit, that’s 98% of drivers, not 98% of people using most urban streets.

Not many people walking or biking wish the speed limit on a road was higher. Their opinions count too. Plus, if speed limits were lower, there’s some likelihood that more people would be comfortable walking or biking on that street, meaning the percentage who want a higher speed limit would be even less.

So even if it’s true that 98% of drivers want a higher speed limit, that doesn’t mean anywhere near that many users of that street want that.

Plus, I’d guess about 100% of people who crash their vehicles believe they’re going a safe speed up to the moment they crash. Otherwise they wouldn’t be going that fast. So just because a speed limit is unpopular with drivers doesn’t mean it’s too low.

Iconyms
Iconyms
11 months ago
Reply to  qqq

Yes there are other road users but they are generally still a minority on roads like this one.

Most people think they are better than average drivers as well.

If almost everyone is driving over it, then I still think that’s a clear sign it’s too low for the design of the road. There are all kinds of issues with police targeting when there are situations like this where most people are breaking the law it gives police so much discretion and leads to profiling and bias against minorities etc.

Just raise it to the speed of the traffic and then actually enforce it as a limit not a suggestion.

SD
SD
11 months ago
Reply to  Iconyms

Even better, change the design of the the road so that it is appropriate for a busy urban environment that needs to accommodate multiple transportation modes. If too many drivers can’t control themselves and drive the appropriate limit, then build the road to control them.

But you may be missing the point that drivers will always push the speed limit, so it has to be set much lower than what many people will want to drive.

Anonymous
Anonymous
11 months ago

You’ve totally jumped the shark. He was set up on a divided highway dedicated to motor vehicles. Additionally, it looks like the roads are not dangerously busy.
The high buffer allows him to go after the real speeders instead of people who are just traveling with the flow of traffic.

If he were set up on Sandy boulevard with a 17 mile an hour buffer that would be a little absurd, but this is just stupidity.

blumdrew
blumdrew
11 months ago
Reply to  Anonymous

There is a clearly visible bike lane, and the caption says “Burnside Bridge” which is fairly obviously not a divided highway dedicated to motor vehicles.

X
X
11 months ago
Reply to  Anonymous

Please search ‘Burnside Bridge Portland distracted driver crash’. It’s not a freeway in spite of appearances. People have died there, in one case because a person choked on their soft drink while failing to control a motor vehicle. Walking across a bridge should not be fatal.

Noel B-D
Noel B-D
11 months ago

If we (society) truly want people to drive the posted speed limits, there’s a simple, low tech solution that doesn’t rely on officer discretion, police staffing, or even photo cameras. Deploy speed bumps with no cut outs, on ALL city streets. Speed bumps with cutouts for collector streets, as long as they’re not spaced for cars. Sharp, jarring speed bumps on residential streets, with no cut outs. Done!

Trike Guy
Trike Guy
11 months ago

Our drivers have Samsara installed in their vehicles (delivery vans and salesmen – heck anyone with a company vehicle).

If they go more that 4 MPH over the speed limit (1 minute increments – so briefly doing it to pass is fine), their score goes down (based on time spent over). Run a stop sign? Ditto. Harsh stops and turns with too much G-force? Same.

When events happen they get coached, if they keep happening they lose their jobs.

As a result we have dozens of people across 6 states who don’t speed and pay attention to the road. They are so much safer on a per mile basis that, even with the huge # of miles they drive we have *very* few incidents.

Well, one guy had a cougar run out in front of his van – but we all get to see the dashcam footage too, so that one didn’t go on his record.

Anyone who says “but it’s hard to drive the speed limit” just doesn’t have severe enough (and *consistent* enough) consequences to driving badly.

Myth Dispulsion
Myth Dispulsion
11 months ago
Reply to  Trike Guy

They don’t have discipline, or maturity. There’s always cruise control, you know.

ShadowsFolly
ShadowsFolly
11 months ago

Who’s going to pay for Cruise Control to be installed on my 20 year old truck? You? I sure can’t afford it right now and it sure would be nice.

So yes, sometimes it is hard to stay EXACTLY on the speed limit. I’d challenge you to try it sometime WITHOUT cruise control.

Lisa Caballero (Assistant Editor)
Editor
Reply to  ShadowsFolly

I don’t use cruise control, but I regularly check my speedometer (probably every minute or more frequently). I’m usually within five miles of the posted speed. Often much slower for central city driving because there are so many situations where I feel I have to be cautious.

qqq
qqq
11 months ago
Reply to  ShadowsFolly

Yes, it would be “hard to stay EXACTLY on the speed limit”. But that’s irrelevant. It’s a speed LIMIT, not a required speed. It’s not difficult to stay very close to it without going over it. Anyone who can’t do that shouldn’t be driving.

Myth Dispulsion
Myth Dispulsion
11 months ago
Reply to  ShadowsFolly

I stay at the limit and often below it (through school zones, etc.) without using cruise control. I’ve come to use it sometimes, including in town(s). Just watch your speed, literally, if needed. There’s an instrument for that, so to speak. (Or for kids now, cool, big digits.)

Retrofitting a LOT of things into older cars isn’t going to work and ordinarily the way things are done is through future car requirements. Cars 20 years old or older (I had one) were often pre-wired for options including cruise control, though.

pierre_delecto
pierre_delecto
11 months ago
Reply to  ShadowsFolly

On what planet does the law state that people have to stay EXACTLY on the speed limit?

Just drive a 1-5 miles below the speed limit and you are good in OR, ShadowsFolly.

Myth Dispulsion
Myth Dispulsion
11 months ago
Reply to  Trike Guy

It’s not hard to drive the speed limit unless it’s not indicated what the limit is.

Nobody needs, or should need, recording and incentives, but maybe you and perhaps insurance companies and courts (for poor driving offenses including reckless driving) are onto something here. (Courts should pay for it if they order it, a problem now.) That’s in addition to PARENTS.

There also could be a reward program for who gets the best score overall or in different categories (including that minimum “area under the curve” for speeding).

Lisa Caballero (Assistant Editor)
Editor

Comment moderator here: Have I been roped into a Turing Test?

Myth Dispulsion
Myth Dispulsion
11 months ago

No.

Motorists should control their speed. It’s easy.

The same is true for cyclists, notably where there are pedestrians.

Patrick
Patrick
11 months ago

I’m content to go the speed limit these days, it’s so much less stressful for me. If other people get upset that’s entirely on them. It sounds like doing that would have an actual impact on enforcement too if that’s actually how they do it.

X
X
11 months ago

Automated enforcement should ticket anyone going two standard deviations above the mean, as long as the mean is at or below the limit, and anyone going one standard deviation above the mean if it’s above the limit. This would calm the streets and increase knowledge of statistics by an order of magnitude.

In plain English, if you’re passing everybody you’re going too fast and should expect a stiff fine.

Iconyms
Iconyms
11 months ago

It seems many here think ticketing people will help, but I don’t see any discussion of how our ticketing system is very very biased against those who make less and meaningless for those in the top income brackets.

Given the goal of speeding tickets is to discourage speeding via a financial punishment I think we should work to ensure that discouragement is felt evenly regardless of someone’s financial situation. It’s wild to me that we basically have a system where the poorest are punished the most and the richest can all be scofflaws.

Watts
Watts
11 months ago
Reply to  Iconyms

Ticketing is especially biased against those who drive dangerously.

Anyone who doesn’t want a speeding ticket has the option of driving at the speed limit. If they can’t do that, they shouldn’t be driving at all.

Iconyms
Iconyms
11 months ago
Reply to  Watts

Uh, not sure what world you drive in but it seems like here ~85% or more are all driving 5-15 miles per hour over. Did you read the article? I guess you think they should all not be driving?

My point was anyone making a lot won’t care about a speeding ticket anyway… hence so many people speeding around in $60k cars.

Watts
Watts
11 months ago
Reply to  Iconyms

No, my point is that exceeding the speed limit is a choice. If you don’t want to risk a ticket, stick to the limit.

Speeding tickets are a form of opt-in taxation.

Dave Fronk
Dave Fronk
11 months ago

So when does BikePortland acknowledge that e-bikes often not only break local speed limits but also state regulations?

Let’s see PPB start ticketing every bike doing 30+ on a Greenway signed for 15mph.

ActualPractical
ActualPractical
11 months ago

Burnside has more single direction lanes/width than many freeways. Design is definitely the problem and this generous buffer supports that.

Shame when the arcade and businesses could make it one of Portland’s most iconic streets.