PBOT News Release: '20 is plenty' speed campaign hits milestone with final sign installation

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Portland Bureau of Transportation

News media contacts:

Portland Bureau of Transportation
Dylan Rivera
Cell: 503-577-7534

PBOT News Release:

'20 is plenty' speed limit campaign hits milestone with final sign installation

City, state part of national trend to lower speed limits to save lives

(April 9, 2019) The Portland Bureau of Transportation (PBOT) installed Portland’s final 20 mph speed limit sign this morning, completing a shift to 20 mph speed limits on residential streets citywide.

Vision Zero Portland logo

PBOT would like to thank state Rep. Rob Nosse, of Portland, who sponsored House Bill 2682 in 2017 that allowed the City of Portland to reduce speed limits from 25 mph to 20 mph on residential streets. In the current legislative session, Senate Bill 558 would allow other cities in Oregon to have the opportunity to lower residential speed limits to 20 mph. This speed limit reduction is currently only allowed in Portland, but the City of Portland supports the effort, led by the League of Oregon Cities, to allow more cities to have 20 mph speed limits on residential streets.

The City of Portland also supports House Bill 2702, sponsored by Representative Nosse in the current legislative session, which would give the Oregon Department of Transportation permission to give cities the authority to set speed limits on city owned streets. Currently, the City has to apply to the state every time it wants to change the speed limit on virtually any street that is not covered by the 20 mph speed limit. This includes busy high-crash network streets such as East and West Burnside, Marine Drive and Northeast and Southeast 122nd Avenue.

Nationwide, engineers and planners are calling for lower speed limits and a new approach to setting speeds:

  • In the April issue of the ITE Journal, an article co-authored by PBOT's Peter Koonce summarizes recent nationwide efforts to create a new way to set speed limits that would reduce traffic crashes by lowering speeds in areas where people are biking and walking.
  • A National Transportation Safety Board study in 2017 found that excessive speed is a deadly problem nationwide, and engineers need to change the way they set speeds to save lives.
  • The National Association of City Transportation Officials has also called on cities and states to lower speed limits and increase enforcement to reduce traffic fatalities.


Implementing '20 is Plenty'

The Portland City Council approved the change, implementing HB 2682, in January 2018, and PBOT crews started replacing 25 mph speed limit signs the next month.

As of April 1, 2018, all local residential streets in Portland have had 20 mph speed limits. The final 20 mph sign installation on Tuesday completes the doubling of residential speed limit signs citywide—from fewer than 1,000 signs to more than 2,000.

The additional signs ensure that people driving are aware of the new residential speed limit. After April 9, PBOT will continue to adjust 20 mph signage based on engineering judgment and maintenance needs. 


20 mph speed limit supports safety

Most residential streets in Portland are narrow, have few marked crosswalks, and no bike lanes; given the tight space and lack of protection for people walking, using mobility devices, and biking, it is important that people drive slowly on residential streets.

The new 20 mph speed limit is part of Portland’s Vision Zero work to eliminate traffic deaths and serious injuries. Slower driving speeds help prevent crashes and, when crashes occur, reduce the harm that results. A pedestrian hit by a driver at 25 mph is nearly twice as likely to die compared to someone hit at 20 mph (Tefft, 2013, Impact Speed and a Pedestrian’s Risk of Severe Injury or Death).

In addition to updating speed limit signs, PBOT distributed more than 7,000 "20 is plenty" yard signs to raise awareness of the 20 mph residential speed limit.

Portland is committed to ending traffic violence in our communities. Through the Vision Zero program, the City of Portland and our partners are working to eliminate deaths and serious injuries on our streets.



The Portland Bureau of Transportation (PBOT) is the steward of the City’s transportation system, and a community partner in shaping a livable city. We plan, build, manage and maintain an effective and safe transportation system that provides access and mobility. Learn more at www.portlandoregon.gov/transportation