Portland is now one step closer to a 20 mph default residential speed limit – UPDATED

Nopo neighborhood greenway.jpg

For best results, add lower speeds.
(Photo: J. Maus/BikePortland)

It’s been a good week for active transportation at the legislature. They said yes to Safe Routes to School, they killed an irresponsible highway-building bill, and they set the stage for Portland to take a major step in street safety.

So far this week, the Oregon House has voted yes on three bills we’re watching. They all passed overwhelmingly, garnering 26 “ayes” and just one “nay”. We shared the good news about the Safe Routes to School bill (HB 3230) on Wednesday. The day before that the House Committee On Agriculture and Natural Resources passed the Oregon Coast Trail Bill (HB 3149), which will establish a State Parks fund to hasten development of a plan for a walking trail along the coast.

We also learned this week that HB 3231 will not move forward. This is the bill that would have given cities and counties the ability to form powerful tolling districts and build new highways completely independent of planning or public oversight. After getting summarily shot down by respected opposition voices in a public hearing last week, the champion of the bill, Washington County Republican Rich Vial, shared news of its demise in his latest constituent newsletter. “Last Friday,” he wrote, “I was informed by the committee chair that HB 3231 would not receive a work session by the April 18th first chamber deadline, which prevents the bill from moving forward this session.” Good riddance!

The big day for sensible transportation policy was Wednesday, when the House Committee on Transportation Policy voted unanimously to pass HB 2682 which gives the City of Portland the ability to lower residential speed limits to 20 mph without first getting permission from the state. As we reported on Tuesday, the bill changed dramatically from its original form. The one that passed Wednesday limits the geographic scope of the bill to just Portland (instead of the entire state) and limits the type of roads the lower speed limits can be applied to.

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Not so fast: Major compromise to speed limit bill ahead of possible House vote

New 20 MPH Sign

(Photo by J. Maus/BikePortland)

A bill that would give cities across Oregon new powers to lower speed limits without first seeking permission from the State of Oregon has been significantly amended ahead of a hearing and possible vote tomorrow (Wednesday, 4/12).

House Bill 2682 seeks to change Oregon’s rules for setting maximum speeds (ORS 810.180). While the Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT) doesn’t manage or own most local streets, the agency still controls speed limits. As more cities adopt Vision Zero plans and struggle to respond to an increase in injuries and deaths to vulnerable road users, the City of Portland and local House Representative Rob Nosse led the charge to create this bill. When it was first introduced, the bill was devilishly simple and would have given broad new authority to all cities across Oregon to set their own speed limits without going through ODOT.

Now, as the legislative session heads into crunch time, a major amendment would reduce most of that authority, but also make the bill much more likely to pass.

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