Portland residents often tell the Bureau of Transportation that neighborhood speeding is a major concern. They worry about their own safety and the safety of their family members and friends – whether behind the wheel, walking the block or bicycling to work. And with the dramatic increases Portland has seen in the number of us bicycling, walking and taking transit to get around, it’s even more important to address neighborhood speeding so our most vulnerable users are as safe as possible.
During the 2011 session of the Oregon Legislature, a law was passed that gives Oregon cities the authority to designate certain residential streets with 20 mile per hour speed limits. The law enjoyed bi-partisan support in both chambers. Portland-area legislators Sen. Jackie Dingfelder, Sen. Ginny Burdick and former Rep. Ben Cannon led a coalition of the City of Portland, AAA Oregon, Oregon Trucking Association, Bicycle Transportation Alliance, Willamette Pedestrian Coalition and others to make speed limits safer on neighborhood streets.
Slow residential speeds are a best practice for safe and livable streets. A pedestrian struck at 20 MPH has a 95 percent chance of survival, while a pedestrian struck at 30 MPH has a 60 percent chance of survival.
The Portland Bureau of Transportation is moving toward implementation of the new law this summer by bringing an ordinance to Portland City Council. The resolution is scheduled to be heard by Council in August that will adopt Neighborhood Greenways with fewer than 2,000 motor vehicles day, lower-than-average speeds, and pavement markings as streets with 20 MPH speed limits.
If approved by Council, the Transportation Bureau will work to lower the speed limit on this network of streets by 5 MPH. Sign installation could begin as early as August and be completed by the end of fall.
Creating Neighborhood Greenways from our existing system of residential streets is working to make our neighborhoods safer and more pleasant places to live and get around by walking and biking. Core goals of the Neighborhood Greenways program are to calm traffic speeds, make crossings safer at busy streets and provide clear guidance for how to connect to business districts, schools, parks and transit stops.