In January, Concordia Neighborhood Association (CNA) made a formal request to the city of Portland to lower the speed limits on Alberta and Killingsworth streets.
Last December, CNA’s Land Use & Transportation Committee (LUTC) recommended – and in January, the CNA Board unanimously adopted – a proposal to request the city lower the speed limits on Alberta from 25 to 20 mph, and on Killingsworth from 30 to 25.
The 20 mph on Alberta would match the limit on Fremont Street through Beaumont Village, in keeping with state statutes for commercial districts.
The 25 mph on Killingsworth would more closely reflect its status as a mixeduse pedestrian and bicycle corridor through a residential area.
Oregon statutory standards for speeds are:
- 15 mph – alleys, narrow residential roadways
- 20 mph – business districts, school zones
- 25 mph – residential districts, public parks, ocean shores
Here’s the current status of our requests:
Alberta Street – The request has not yet been investigated. It was finally assigned to a traffic engineer at the end of August.
Killingsworth Street – In early August, the city wrote, “After reviewing available data, we have determined the current speed zones on Killingsworth to be appropriate, given the layout, and similar to other comparable-sized roads in the area. Therefore, no changes were recommended.”
It seems pretty clear the city engineer studying Killingsworth reached the wrong conclusion. The question should be, for the business districts on Killingsworth, what justification does Portland have for not implementing the 20-mph statutory business district speed? For the balance of Killingsworth, which runs through a mix of residentially-zoned properties, what justification does Portland have for not implementing the 25- mph statutory residential area speed? What is the rationale and justification for higher speeds in these locations, despite injuries and fatalities?
A local lawyer has taken notice, and wrote, “The Vision Zero Crash Map shows two people were killed while walking, and 33 people were seriously injured while walking, bicycling or using vehicles in 2005-2014 on N/NE Killingsworth. Those numbers appear similar to other comparable-sized streets in the area where speeds are similar… and where there are many businesses, schools, residences, and users of all modes. I believe it is reasonable to expect that if speeds and right-of-way uses stay the same, Portlanders will continue to die and suffer serious injuries on N/NE Killingsworth and on our other comparable sized streets.”
It’s my understanding the Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT) has granted 95 percent (36 of 38, as of 2015) of Portland’s requests to lower speeds that were higher than the statutory speeds. I hope the city will increasingly feel it has engineering, moral and political mandates to seek revocation of ODOT orders on streets like Killingsworth, where speeds are posted at higher than statutory speeds, and where Portlanders are dying and suffering serious injuries.
CNA is appealing the city’s Killingsworth decision, and the issue is currently being re-examined by the city’s traffic investigations manager.
The city is also asking ODOT to consider all modes with a new proposed methodology for adjusting speeds on local streets (as reported recently by the Portland Tribune). Unfortunately, Killingsworth will not qualify, as it is classified as an arterial. Only collector and local streets would be eligible under the proposed guidelines. However, the traditional speed zone adjustment request would still certainly be feasible for Killingsworth.