PBOT will hand out 1,000 free yard signs to promote neighborhood greenways

Postcard mailed to people who live on greenways. (Photo: Jonathan Maus/BikePortland)

Portlanders love yard signs and neighborhood greenways and a new initiative from the Bureau of Transportation wants to take full of advantage of it.

About 25,000 people who live on our 110-mile network of neighborhood greenways citywide received a postcard in the mail this week that exclaims: “You Live on a Neighborhood Greenway!” The postcard offers all recipients their choice of two sign designs. One of them is a general neighborhood greenway sign with stick figures biking, walking a dog and playing ball; the other is yellow to mimic a traffic caution sign and includes “15 MPH” in large font.

Portland’s greenway network.

This isn’t the first time PBOT has sought to use private front yard real estate to hammer home a traffic safety message. In 2018 they could hardly keep “20 is Plenty” signs in stock as folks were eager for anything that might help deter speeders from their streets. And who remembers last April when local artist Mike Bennett created a variety of “Slow Down” yard signs and could barely keep up with demand?

In passive-aggressive Portland, anonymously planting a sign in the grass that tells other people how they should act is the perfect way for many people to exercise their activism muscles.

PBOT says they hope this latest effort helps raise awareness about the 15 mph advisory speed limit and other traffic calming installations they’ve recently installed on greenways.

PBOT Interim Communications Director Hannah Schafer says, “Our goal is raise awareness among people traveling and living along greenways that they are great streets for walking, biking and rolling.” Funding for the signs comes from the Slow Streets program.

Schafer said they’ve printed 1,000 signs, 500 of each design. If you want one, you better act fast as she reports they’ve had 287 orders in the first two days of the campaign.

This free sign program is available only to people to who live on neighborhood greenways. If you’re one of them, you can request yours here.

The outdated and dangerous 85th percentile rule is dead in Oregon

On May 1st, traffic engineers in the state of Oregon will no longer rely on an outdated and dangerous method for setting speed limits. Thanks to new rules adopted by the Oregon Transportation Commission last month, the process for for designating speeds has changed dramatically and now goes way beyond the traditional 85 percentile method.

The 85th percentile rule has dominated U.S. traffic engineering since it was championed in the 1960s. It says limits should set at the speed which 85% of drivers are currently driving at or under. What could possibly go wrong? Since it’s a universal phenomenon that people drive faster than what’s safe, this methodology is very biased toward higher speeds and it’s a big factor in America’s rising traffic death toll.

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Oregon lawmakers vote to give cities authority to set speed limits

Buffered Bike Lane with a bike symbol and arrow pointing forward

Rep. Rob Nosse speaking at a Joint Transportation Committee hearing on February 4th.

A key part of the City of Portland’s 2020 legislative agenda and traffic safety efforts got a boost in Salem yesterday when the Joint Committee on Transportation voted 10-2 in favor of House Bill 4103 which authorizes the Oregon Department of Transportation to delegate authority to set speed limits to cities and counties.

HB 4103 is a continuation of work that began last session by House Representative Rob Nosse, a Democrat who represents southeast Portland. Urged by the Portland Bureau of Transportation in their ongoing quest to lower speed limits and make roads safer, Nosse proposed a bill last year (HB 2702) that would have given Portland the ability to set speeds on certain streets in its jurisdiction. That bill didn’t make it out of committee, so Nosse continued discussions with ODOT and lawmakers and brought back a revised version this session.

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