Portland’s side streets rezoned to 20 mph

Planning on zipping past main street traffic on a residential street? Be aware: The speed limit is no longer 25 mph …

In the Centennial neighborhood, on the far eastern edge of outer East Portland, PBOT Director Leah Treat, PPB Traffic Division Caption Michael Crebs and PBOT Public Information Officer Dylan Rivera hold a press conference – to announce that new residential speed zone signs are being put in place.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton

After gaining permission to do so from the Oregon state legislature, the Portland City Council voted to reduce speed limits on most residential streets by 5 mph on January 17.

Not wasting any time, on February 6, officials with the Portland Bureau of Transportation (PBOT) and Portland Police Bureau (PPB) Traffic Division held an event at which they began the process of switching out the old 25 mph speed zone signs for larger rectangles, which specify the new 20 mph speed limit for residential streets

“Today, we are poised to take a significant step forward in making our neighborhoods safer and more livable,” asserts PBOT Director Leah Treat.

This ceremony kicked off a sign swap frenzy, as PBOT crews began the process of changing about 2,000 signs on what they estimate is 70% of Portland side streets by April 1.

The Bureau began replacing the larger-in-size “reduced speed limit” signs, starting in outer East Portland and North Portland, but from there it will quickly move through other neighborhoods, revealed PBOT Director Leah Treat.

A PBOT worker begins unbolting a 25 mph speed sign from its post.

“This will help tremendously in saving lives, because, even though a lesser percentage of people die on residential streets, people still are killed on these streets,” Treat told East Portland News at the press event.

“Last year, we had three fatalities on residential streets, and if the cars involved in those crashes had been traveling at 20 mph, nobody would’ve died,” Treat said. “I also think it’s going to go a long way toward shaping ‘driving culture’ in the city.”

Some people going to complain about reducing the speed limit on residential streets, but this will save lives,” says PPB Traffic Division Captain Michael Crebs.

PPB Traffic Division Captain Michael Crebs noted that the difference between a vehicle traveling 25 mph and 20 mph, when braking, “is an entire car length; which can mean that no collision occurs with a kid running after his ball into the street, and life goes on perfectly.”

About police actively enforcing reduced speed limit, Crebs commented, “We have thousands of laws on the books with little enforcement component. And, we also believe that people will look at this as a legitimate law, and they will obey the law, and slow down.”

Captain Michael Crebs hands mounting hardware to a PBOT worker as the first residential speed limit sign is changed.

Although crews are out installing the new speed limit signs now, officially the new residential speed limit takes effect citywide on April 1.  No fooling.

© 2018 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News

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