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Portland residential streets which had a default 25 MPH speed limit are now 20 MPH streets

DAVID F. ASHTON - Sellwood resident Jan Hainley picks up a 20 is Plenty sign from Portland Bureau of Transportation staffer Sharon White, at Lane Middle School. When word got out that a representative of the Portland Bureau of Transportation (PBOT) would be giving away lawn signs – emblazoned on both sides with the speed slogan "20 IS PLENTY" – residents from all over Inner Southeast Portland came to the Brentwood-Darlington neighborhood to pick up several of the orange-and-white placards just before noon on Saturday, March 24.

PBOT staffer Sharon White, well-known to readers of THE BEE from being the "designated walker" in numerous Pedestrian Crossing Safety Missions, found eager takers hoping to get several of them – even in the rain showers of the day – as she unloaded her van in front of Lane Middle School. It was one of the city's last opportunities to pick up these signs.

An early arriver, Jan Hainley of Sellwood, was disappointed to discover she could only have one sign. "People all up and down our street asked me to pick up one for them," Hainley explained.

To find out why these popular lawn signs were made, and why they are in short supply, THE BEE contacted PBOT Public Information Officer Dylan Rivera.

"We made these signs to help raise awareness among Portlanders of the new 20 mile per hour speed limit on residential streets, approved by the state legislature in 2017, and passed as an ordinance by the Portland City Council in January, approving this change to take effect citywide on April 1," Rivera explained.

PBOT placed an initial order of 2,500 signs and began distributing them at a dozen locations around the city in early February.

When discovering that every neighbor who came to the sign give-away had expected to take several, and thus had left disappointed, Rivera replied, "We recognize the limitation can be frustrating, especially when people travel a long distance to a pick-up site."

Initially, PBOT didn't limit signs, but as they were rapidly snatched up, the decision was made to cap the number at ten per person – and finally, to reduce the limitation to a single sign per person. "This has resulted in some people leaving disappointed, and we apologize for that," Rivera said.

Still, Rivera said, those working with the project have been "thrilled by the positive public response to this program, and the speed limit change; even a 5 mph reduction in driving speed significantly decreases the likelihood that a crash will result in someone dying."

It's not an April Fool's joke – even if the official signs have yet to be replaced in your neighborhood, residential streets are now limited to 20 mph, as of April 1. Drive safely!

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