A perspective from Oregon’s mid-Willamette Valley

A question of speed: Legal versus prudent

Written July 9th, 2019 by Hasso Hering

On July 8, just north of Highway 20, two drivers head up Scenic Drive past a speed feedback sign.

No, the speed limit in the curves of Scenic Drive in North Albany is not 15 miles an hour, no matter what it says on top of the feedback sign that was there on Monday.

A reader asked about this, and I checked with the experts, namely Ron Irish, the Albany transportation systems analyst, and Benton County Engineer Laurel Byer.

Scenic Drive, though inside the western city limits of Albany, is a county road. And on the curvy section heading up the hill from Highway 20, there is no “speed order” in effect. That means that the basic rule controls. “While that is typically 55, it really is a speed that is safe and prudent given the road and weather conditions,” Byer wrote.

And clearly 55 is neither safe nor prudent there, or even possible. If you tried it you’d fly off the road in those curves.

There are advisory signs, though, suggesting 15 mph. That’s “considered the speed one can, in regular dry conditions, safely travel the curve,” Byer told me in her email. “It is not a limit, however, so a deputy could not ticket someone going faster than the advisory speed unless they are being reckless and endangering others.

“It is a little misleading to have the speed feedback sign state the speed limit is 15 mph,” she added. “That simply isn’t true.”

Regardless, these feedback signs usually are placed in response to neighborhood complaints about speeders on particular streets. We can assume some people have been going through there in too much of a hurry. So let’s hope the temporary display accomplishes what the advisories could not. (hh)

5 responses to “A question of speed: Legal versus prudent”

  1. Bryan says:

    I drive this every day and can assure you no one is going to fast, you can’t even if you want to. I know there is someone on top of that hill that thinks he should decide how fast people should go, I assure you I don’t and won’t go 15, especially now that they tried passing that off as the limit.
    I do like your challenge though…
    “If you tried it you’d fly off the road in those curves”

  2. Delfina says:

    A motorcycle can take those curves safely at 35-40 mph depending on road conditions. I know my saying that will be unpopular but it is true. The real reason to slow down is so we don’t hit the animals that occupy the forest.

    • J. Jacobson says:

      Rock on Delfina. I’ve personally taken my Moto Guzzi AUDACE CARBON up that road and have managed the turns a bit above what you suggested in your comment. Keep on ridin’, Delfina.

  3. Lundy says:

    If I ran a police agency, I would instruct my officers never to ticket anyone for speeding unless the driver was exhibiting behavior that was an actual public safety risk; merely exceeding a posted speed limit would not be enough.

    • centrist says:

      I defer to Jim E here.
      Law enforcement can’t act on every violation observed. The officer has to prioritize because there’s only so much time to cover the assigned area.
      To the trolls who make big of donuts, BALDERDASH


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