City votes to reduce residential speed limit

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) -- Portland's City Council unanimously voted to reduce the speed limit in most residential areas.

In a few weeks, Portland Bureau of Transportation crews will start taking down 25 mile per hour signs and replacing them with 20 mile per hour signs. The change will affect 70% of the city. 

"They're cutting through on streets that people are living on, there are kids playing on," Commissioner Dan Saltzman said. "So it's important to reduce the speed limit."

Portland police said more than 50 people were killed in the city due to crashes in 2017, up from the year before. PBOT said between 2006 and 2015, 34% of fatal and serious injury crashes happened on residential streets. They believe changing the speed limit will reduce that number. 

PBOT spokesperson Dylan Rivera said pedestrians hit by cars going 25 mph are nearly twice as likely to die than if they were hit by a car at 20 mph. 

"My mother died in a car accident," Commissioner Nick Fish said. "We have a moral obligation to do everything we can to make the streets safer."

Some residents argue that changing the speed limit by just 5 miles won't solve the problem.

"The solution is where you have a problem, study that issue and come up with a solution that will work on that problem," resident Dan Brame said. "It might be a speed limit sign, it might be enforcement, it might be a choker on a narrow street."

City officials said police will be patrolling and enforcing the new speed limit once the signs are up, but there is a serious shortage of officers.

Officials are stating with signs on the east side and hope to swap out all the signs by April. Until then, drivers just need to abide by what the signs currently say. 

Commissioner Dan Saltzman pushed for this change despite concerns over it's effectiveness.

"I think if it was your street and your child that was injured, injured by a car or God forbid killed by a speeding car, you would feel that $300,000 is a pretty good investment to save a life," Saltzman said.  


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