Passing laws: Oregon requires that in the event a motor vehicle passes a bicycle it shall leave a safe distance, such that in the event the bicycle rider shall fall into the traffic lane, the driver would not strike the cyclist. This requirement does not apply if:
- The bicycle is on a designated bicycle lane;
- The motor vehicle is a speed that does not exceed 35 mph; and
- When the driver is passing a person operating a bicycle on the person’s right side and the bicycle rider is turning left.
Helmet law: Oregon requires the operator or passenger of a bicycle under the age of 16 years old to wear a helmet. However, the failure to wear a helmet shall have no impact and not be admissible in an attempt to reduce the amount of damages or to constitute a defense to an action for damages brought by the bicyclist or passenger against the the fault of another. This applies to the survivors of the deceased if the bicyclist or passenger were killed.
Laws to Protect the Bicyclist: There are certain laws entitled “vulnerable user laws.” These laws, in essence, require the vehicle least at risk to yield to the vehicle most at risk. Oregon defines a bicycle as a vulnerable user.
Oregon law protects vulnerable users by providing that the offense of vehicular assault of a bicyclist or pedestrian is a Class A misdemeanor which occurs if:
- A person driving a motor vehicle shall not, in a reckless manner, results in contact between the person’s vehicle and a bicyclist or a pedestrian; and
- The contact causes physical injury to the bicyclist or the pedestrian.
Distracted Driving Laws: Oregon prohibits a person, while operating a motor vehicle on a highway, from using a mobile communications device. They make it very simple: If you are driving you can not use a mobile communications device.
Lane Position Laws for a Bicyclist: Generally speaking Oregon law requires bicyclists to be as close to the right hand edge of the road as possible. However there are some important exceptions that I will outline below:
- When passing another bicycle or vehicle proceeding in the same direction;
- When preparing to take a left turn at an intersection or into a private road or driveway;
- When reasonably necessary to avoid unsafe conditions such as riding in a lane that is too narrow;
- When operating on a bicycle lane or bicycle path; and
- When riding next to another bicycle rider, provided that you are not impeding the normal flow of traffic.
Sidewalk Riding: A motor vehicle must yield the right of way to any bicycle on a sidewalk. The general rule in Oregon is that you are permitted to ride on sidewalks. However, there are certain rules and exceptions that must be followed. So you may ride on a sidewalk subject to the following:
- You must yield the right of way to any pedestrian and shall give audible signal before overtaking and passing such pedestrian;
- You can not suddenly leave a curb or other place of safety and move into the path of a vehicle that is so close as to constitute an immediate hazard;
- You can not operate in such a careless manner as to endanger others;
- You can not exceed the speed of an ordinary walk when approaching a crosswalk or potentially crossing motor vehicle traffic;
- You can not use an electrical assisted bicycle on a sidewalk; and
- Except as otherwise provided, you have the same rights and responsibilities as a pedestrian while riding on a sidewalk.
You are required to us a bicycle lane or path when one is adjacent to or near a roadway, except that you may safely move out of the bicycle lane or path for the purpose of :
- Overtaking or passing another bicycle, vehicle or pedestrian that is in said lane or path, if it would be unsafe to do so within the lane or path;
- When you are preparing to make a left hand turn;
- To avoid debris or other hazardous conditions;
- To make a right hand turn where you are authorized to do so; and
- Continuing straight at an intersection where the bicycle lane or path is to the right of a lane from which a motor vehicle must turn right.
Riding a Bike under the Influence: In Oregon, bicycles are defined as vehicles. Oregon’s law prohibiting driving while under the influence of alcohol or other controlled substances is written so that it applies to vehicles and therefore does apply to bicyclists. Bicycles should not be operated while under the influence and a bicyclist may potentially be charged with a DUI resulting in severe punishment and penalties.
Stop Sign Laws: In Oregon bicycles have to follow the same rules as motor vehicles regarding the requirement to come to a complete stop when directed to stop by traffic control devices and Oregon does not authorize bicyclists to disobey traffic lights that fail to detect bicyclists.
Important Resources and Links