Portland is known for its strong bike culture; the state of Oregon boasts the nation’s highest percentage of cycling commuters, with nearly 8% of the population choosing the eco-friendly alternative to sitting in rush hour traffic. Each year that goes by, Portlanders see more bike-friendly improvements to city streets; yet they also see more cyclists, commuters, and an overall steady growth in population. Commuting on a bike can be a high risk activity. Here are the top bike laws for Oregon that aim to keep cyclists safe in Portland and beyond.

Safe Passing Law

In Portland, cyclists are legally required to ride in a bike lane, unless they are avoiding a traffic hazard in the immediate area. This means that sidewalk riding is not permitted in the heart of the city, unless the sidewalk is also a designated bike lane or path, or crosses a bridge. To protect road cyclists, most states have safe passing laws that require drivers to keep their distance from cyclists when passing them on the road. A “safe distance” is defined as one that is sufficient to prevent contact with the person on the bike if the cyclist were to fall into the driver’s lane of traffic. After the cyclist is passed, the driver may return to the lane of travel.

Certain exceptions are made for drivers who are going no more than 35 miles per hour, in a lane separate from and adjacent to a designated bike lane, and when the driver is passing a cyclist on the cyclist’s right side and the cyclist is turning left.

Helmet Law

As far as headgear goes, Oregon does not require adults to wear helmets; only cyclists 16 and under are required to wear one. Yet to ride without a helmet on our busy streets is foolish when you consider the likelihood of being struck and the capacity for injury. Still, any evidence that you were not wearing a helmet at the time of an accident cannot be used against you if you pursue a personal injury claim.

Bicycling Under the Influence

Bicyclists are subject to all the same rules of the road as motorists, and as such are defined as vehicles. Oregon’s DUII laws apply to cyclists as well; so, whether you are drunk, high on medicine or recreational marijuana, you are subject to Oregon’s severe regulations. A DUII is a Class A misdemeanor crime that goes on a permanent criminal record. If you are convicted of bicycling under the influence, you can face penalties of possible driver license suspension and hefty fines. You may also spend time in jail.

Sharing the Sidewalk Law

It is advised that cyclists remain in designated bike lanes, whether they be protected or not. The law is clear on who has the right of way, and it is always pedestrians. As a cyclist, it is your duty to alert a pedestrian when you will pass him or her on a sidewalk with an audible signal. Pedestrians have the right of way in marked and unmarked crosswalks and sidewalks. Motorists must yield the right of way to cyclists when cyclists are moving slowly in crosswalks and in areas where there is not enough room for a bike lane. Electric bikes are not permitted on sidewalks.

With so many cyclists on the roads, Portland cycling accidents are not uncommon. They can often be severe and cause plenty of hardship. If you or someone you know has been injured in a Portland bike accident, you may be entitled to compensation. Call RizkLaw at (503) 245-5677 for a free legal consultation.