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A cyclist’s commute: Understanding Oregon bike laws

On Behalf of | Jun 14, 2023 | Motor Vehicle Accidents

Cycling to and from work offers a healthy and sustainable mode of transportation. In a League of American Bicyclists report, Oregon ranks as the second most bike-friendly state. Specific categories under consideration were legislation and enforcement, policies and programs, education and encouragement, infrastructure and funding, and evaluation and planning.

But as you pedal to a fit lifestyle, riding your bike exposes you to road threats. As much as safety nets are in place, you’re still not immune to bike accidents.

Bike laws

The Oregon Vehicle Code treats bicycles as vehicles, subjecting them to similar rights and duties to a vehicular driver. There are other provisions cyclists must follow regarding equipment, operation and interaction with other highway entities:

  • Minor cyclists or passengers, under 16, must always wear a helmet when riding or operating on a highway.
  • Every bicycle must have lights to address limited visibility conditions: a front white light seen within 500 feet and a rear red light visible within 600 feet.
  • The bicycle’s brakes must have the capacity to stop from 10 miles per hour speed within 15 feet under dry road conditions.
  • If cyclists ride slower than average traffic speed on two-way streets, they must go as far to the right as possible. Additionally, they must be as far to the left as possible on one-way streets.
  • Whenever available, cyclists must always use a bike lane. Exemptions to this rule include if the cyclist is preparing for a turn, avoiding a hazard or if the bike lane turns into a right turn lane.
  • Sidewalks are allowable for cyclists, just like for pedestrians, unless a local ordinance prevents them from doing so. Exemption to this rule is if the bicycle in operation is an electric-assisted kind.
  • Motor vehicles must always pass bicycles safely and give them the right of way on bicycle lanes, sidewalks and intersections. But cyclists must also do their part by reducing speed.
  • Cyclists must always stop or remain stopped in a crosswalk for pedestrians.
  • Cyclists must always signal for a turn or stop.

As much as these state laws aim to make the roads safer, road dangers – drunk or distracted driving, improper or sudden lane changes and failure to properly follow the law – still abound, resulting in catastrophic bike accidents.

Aside from a negligent motor vehicle driver, your bike accident may have resulted from a defective bike component, or unsafe road conditions due to inclement weather or an irresponsible property owner. It is crucial to carefully evaluate the circumstances of your situation to determine liable parties accurately.

Bouncing back on the bike

Oregon communities are teeming with bike riders and enthusiasts, so everyone must exercise extra precautionary measures. If you’re looking forward to continuing your healthier and greener lifestyle, a legal team may help you bounce back by seeking damages that can help you get back on the road.