Portland Lowers Speed Limit to 20 MPH on 70 Miles of Neighborhood Greenways

Our neighborhood streets should be safe for people — period. These are the streets where we live, where our kids play, and where more people are biking and walking every day. We know that speed is a top concern for people who live on Portland’s neighborhood streets and for parents who are considering letting their kids walk and bike to school. There has been a great amount of community support to lower the speed limit on neighborhood greenways to 20 MPH, and the BTA is proud to announce that today the city of Portland makes the new speed limit official.

Image: Portland Bureau of Transportation

The logic behind lowering the speed limit from 25 to 20 MPH is all about physics. At 20 miles per hour, a person has a 95% chance of surviving a crash. As speed increases above 20, the chance of survival decreases. Lower speed limits have been effective at reducing the crash and fatality rate in cities across Europe. In London, all residential zones have 20 MPH speed limits.

In East Portland, people are walking in the street because there are no sidewalks. Lowering the speed limit to 20 MPH will make a big difference to people and families who use those streets to get to work and to school. The situation is similar in many suburban and rural communities in Oregon, and the BTA would like to see the push for lower speed limits on neighborhood streets in more of these communities.

The BTA is proud to have worked with the City of Portland, state legislators, and transportation partners to pass legislation in 2011 to allow cities to lower the speed limit on neighborhood streets from 25 to 20 MPH and significantly improve safety for everyone who is walking, biking, and driving on those streets.


Comments (3)

  1. John R Permalink  | Sep 03, 2012 12:32pm

    What a bunch of bullshit! The places where the speed limit should be dropped where people live (NE Killingsworth) is allowed to stay at 35 MPH and people often drive 45-50 MPH. Some people ride their bikes on this street, even more people WALK on the street. This seems very unsafe. It seems the “trendy” and “wealthier” areas of town get the speed limit dropped, but if you live in an area that is not very affluent, it’s like you don’t exist.

  2. John R Permalink  | Sep 03, 2012 12:43pm

    This sounds like another one of Sam Adams ideas… I’ll be so glad when this mayor is gone. Oh and bicycles belong on the sidewalk (they are not motor vehicles)… they don’t have bumpers, or airbags, or seat belts like cars, and can’t sustain being in crashes; therefore should not be considered “equal” on busy streets in traffic with motor vehicles. He pushes many of his agendas through without a vote. I hope the people of Portland will get to work on gathering signatures to repeal some of his recent regulations (plastic bag ban, main streets that were originally designed for motor vehicles turning into bike only areas, throwing old food into your green bin to compost, etc.).

  3. Mike Permalink  | Sep 28, 2012 09:25pm

    I think the reduction to 20mph is great for the bicycle boulevards, but it seems really strange to me that some of the boulevards that this would benefit most will be excluded based on the excess volumes and excess speeds they currently have. If a neighborhood greenway is designated as such, shouldn’t it get the same treatment? Isn’t the whole purpose of this initiative to make these streets safer? Why would they exclude the greenways that are most in need of this?? It’s very backward for sure.