Lower speed limits may be headed to many Portland neighborhoods

A bicyclist and a car navigate Ladd's Addition Circle in Southeast Portland. (KATU Photo)

A Portland lawmaker wants to make it easier for the city of Portland to lower speed limits in residential neighborhoods.

Rep. Rob Nosse, D-Southeast Portland, saw his legislation, HB 2682, pass the Oregon House Monday. It would allow Portland city commissioners to lower speed limits on residential streets from 25 mph to 20 mph.

"That's about 4,800 miles of city streets in Portland or about 61 percent of streets that people use in the city," said Nosse.

Lowering speed limits in Oregon usually involves a lengthy petition process that the Oregon Department of Transportation weighs in on. Nosse's bill allows Portland to bypass that. However, larger arterial roads that often see more fatal crashes are left out of the bill. That decision came about as Nosse was negotiating with all stakeholders, including ODOT.

"I couldn't get the bill passed, including those streets unfortunately," Nosse said. "I'm sure Division or Hawthorne would be one of those for sure in my district that people would want to include, but they're not included."

The bill passed on a vote of 55-1. If it passes the state Senate, and gets Gov. Kate Brown's signature, the onus for lowering speed limits falls on Portland city commissioners.

"The City Council can debate this and lower the speeds on some of the residential areas in our community and make it a little safer to walk around," said Nosse.

Nosse says research shows a 20 mph speed limit can make a big difference in car accidents involving pedestrians.

"If you are hit in a traffic accident, you have four times the chance of survival at 20 miles per hour than you do if you're hit by a car that's going 30 miles per hour," Nosse said.

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