Bicycling is especially popular in Oregon. However, as in other places where the natural beauty of the landscape provides a multitude of outdoor adventures, cyclists and drivers sometimes find themselves at odds with one another.
Now a new law that took effect on Jan. 1 gives drivers a legal option when they find themselves behind a cyclist who’s moving slower than the speed of traffic. It allows drivers to pass them even in a no-passing zone.
What does the law say?
Specifically, as long as any vehicle is traveling at under half the posted speed limit, it’s considered an “obstruction.” That means drivers can move into the left lane for as long as it takes to get around them even if they’re in a marked “No Passing” zone. That vehicle may be a bike or even a tractor or other piece of farm equipment, depending on the area.
Drivers in no passing zones will be allowed to cross into the left lane of the roadway to get around the “obstruction.” However, they must slow down to at least 5 miles per hour below the posted speed limit and take care to stay far enough away from the cyclist that if they fell, they wouldn’t collide with them. They still have to ensure that no vehicle is approaching from the other direction and yield to any that are.
How the law benefits cyclists
The legislation originated with a resident of Eugene who talked to his state senator about how unnerving it is for cyclists when vehicles follow close behind them for miles in rural roads that often don’t have dedicated bike lanes. He said, “Sometimes they’re pretty close, and you kind of wonder what their intentions are….” These drivers likely didn’t want to risk a traffic ticket for passing in a no-passing zone. However, those that passed anyway often did so at unsafe speeds.
Bike vs. car crashes typically end much worse for the cyclist than anyone in the car. If you’ve suffered injuries caused by a driver who was following too closely, didn’t allow enough room when passing you or engaged in some other reckless or negligent behavior, it’s crucial to seek the justice and compensation you deserve.