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A proposed ordinance could drop 25 mph roadways to 20 mph if certain criteria is met

PMG PHOTO: JAIME VALDEZ - Many streets that currently have a speed limit of 25 mph could drop to 20 mph under a new city ordinance under consideration in Tigard.Some Tigard streets could see their speed reduced in the future — from 25 mph to 20 mph — if the Tigard City Council approves a new ordinance Tuesday night.

The ordinance would allow the city to establish a 20 mph speed limit on select streets that are currently set at 25 mph if those roadways are in residential neighborhoods and aren't arterials.

While a drop of 5 mph doesn't seem like it would matter much, experts say that's not the case.

"A speed reduction from 25 mph to 20 mph has a small impact on travel time (about 3.5 seconds of drive time on an average city block), but has life-changing results for pedestrians," according to information the city provided about the proposed ordinance. "Crash data has shown there is a significant change in pedestrian survivability in the event of a crash when drivers are traveling at 20 mph as proposed to 25 or 30 mph."

The city's engineer would make the determination as to which of the city's 643 streets currently posting speeds of 25 mph could be included.

Criteria for inclusion of selected streets for the 20 mph designation would be based on so-called documented driver behavior concerns. That includes a combination of having 50% or more of drivers on a proposed street going over the speed limit, the 85th percentile speed must be more than five miles over the speed limit, the street must have an average daily traffic count of 600 vehicles per day or more, have a record of concerns expressed to the city and contain geographical features such as steep grades or sharp turns.PMG PHOTO: JAIME VALDEZ - Tigard is pushing a campaign of '20 is Plenty,' with a goal of reducing speeds on many city streets from 25 mph to 20 mph. That small drop in speed increases the survivability of pedestrians struck by vehicles, experts say.

The plan would be implemented over the course of several years starting with high priority locations, according to information provided by the city. If passed, the ordinance would allow for the first six months to be used to collect data and conduct an educational campaign.

"After that, the city will roll out two install zones per month until the first phase is complete," city officials said.

The Tigard Police Department has indicated support for the plan. It would monitor the new streets, with existing motorcycle officers enforcing the new rules.

Initial plans would include education rather than enforcement unless there's an egregious violation of that new speed limit, police say.

"The Tigard Police Department will support City Council and the community in deciding whether to reduce speed to 20 miles per hour on eligible residential streets," said Tigard Police Chief Kathy McAlpine. "As law enforcement, we are the enforcement branch for the city and our role is to ensure public safety. Should this change be made, we will have a supportive role with education and enforcement. Making this small change can have a big impact on the safety of pedestrians, including children walking to school or bus stops."

She said safer neighborhoods directly contribute to the livability of the community, "and we can all benefit from that."


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