Portland Bicycle Accident Lawyers
Cycling is a healthy, fun, economical, and environmentally friendly way to get around Portland, whether you are a tourist or resident, commuting to work, making a quick trip to the store, or hitting the trails. But dangers abound when sharing the road with motor vehicles, from the dreaded right hook to getting doored, to catastrophic or fatal injury when drivers make unsafe left turns or lane changes. If you have been injured in a bicycle accident caused by a negligent driver, or if you lost a loved one in a fatal bike crash, the personal injury and wrongful death attorneys of Rosenbaum Law Group can help you. We hold negligent drivers accountable and pursue insurance claims to cover doctor and hospital bills, loss of income, pain and suffering, and the full range of monetary damages allowed under Oregon law. Our attorneys work closely with our clients and each other to deliver the best representation and get the results you need and deserve. Call our experienced Portland bicycle accident lawyers today.
Some Important Oregon Bicycle Traffic Safety Laws
A bicycle is a vehicle, and cyclists have all the same rights and duties as drivers of cars, except for any laws that apply only to motor vehicles and not vehicles in general. Cyclists must ride in a straight line in the direction of traffic. Cyclists can ride two abreast so long as they aren’t impeding traffic; if so, they must move to the right and ride single-file to allow cars to pass. Helmets are required for riders under age 16, and bicycles must be equipped with a white headlight and red taillight or reflector for nighttime riding.
Cyclists must ride in the bike lane if one is available unless it’s unsafe to do so because of hazards in the bike lane such as:
- potholes or debris
- parked cars blocking the bike lane
- narrow travel lanes
- when turning left
- if a car in their vicinity is making a right-hand turn
- when traveling down a one-way street
If there is no bike lane or the bike lane is unsafe to travel in, bicyclists should ride on the shoulder of the road or in the vehicle travel lane. Cyclists should generally ride to the right, but not so close to the curb that they would be in danger of striking the curb.
Where the travel lane is narrow and wouldn’t accommodate both a car and a bike at the same time, the cyclist can lawfully ride in the center and “take the lane.” Bikers can stay in the center of the lane so long as they are keeping up with traffic, moving to the right when safe to do so and as needed to let cars pass.
Bicycles can pass on the right in a bike lane, but it is often safer to pass on the left. Cyclists should move back to the right after passing on the left safely.
Under Oregon law, a person may lawfully operate a motor vehicle in a bicycle lane when making a turn or entering or leaving an alley, private road or driveway. Of course, this must be done safely with due care for the safety of cyclists who may be in the lane. While the law does not excuse negligence, the law does recognize there are instances when a motor vehicle can be in the bike lane, raising the risks of a bicycle accident happening there.
Bicycles and Buses
Bicycle lanes and bus stops often share the same space, which creates an additional hazard for cyclists. Even a low-speed impact with a bus could be catastrophic to the rider. Bus drivers should yield to bikes in the bike lane. As a cyclist, if you come upon a bus stopped in the bike lane, you can lawfully move into a traffic lane and pass the bus, so long as there is a gap in traffic enabling you to merge safely. Bicycles should yield to buses that are leaving a bus stop and have their blinkers on.
Bicycles and Pedestrians
Intersection crosswalks can be chaotic spaces when filled with busy pedestrians and bicycles. Cyclists can lawfully ride in the crosswalk but can go no faster than the speed of people walking, and they should yield to pedestrians. When approaching an intersection from a bike lane or travel lane, yield the right-of-way to pedestrians just like cars do. Stop and stay stopped until the pedestrian has moved out of your lane. Also, don’t try to pass a car or bike that has stopped at an intersection or crosswalk; it is probably waiting for a pedestrian to cross.
Oregon’s Stop as Yield Law
Since 2020, Oregon state law has allowed cyclists to treat stop signs as yield signs. When approaching a stop sign or flashing red light, it is lawful for cyclists to slow to a safe speed, check for cross traffic, and proceed without stopping, whether heading straight through the intersection or turning. This law allows cyclists to stay upright on their bikes and maintain momentum and balance. It is considered a more efficient and safer way to handle intersections than stopping and starting. Cyclists must still stop and obey a steady red light. They must also yield to traffic approaching or in the intersection, including yielding to pedestrians crossing the road.
Tips for Bicycle Safety
- Stay visible, wear bright clothing, ride in the center of the lane, and don’t hang out behind or next to box trucks.
- Take the lane when you need to for safety.
- Check tires, brakes, cranks and chains, and quick-release seats and wheels before riding.
- Consider wearing a helmet that meets CPSC safety standards. Helmets are required for riders under 16, but they are a good idea for anyone.
- Use a bell to communicate your presence to pedestrians or other cyclists.
- Stay alert; don’t plug both your ears with earbuds.
- Keep a safe distance from parked cars to avoid getting doored.
- Don’t weave in and out of parked cars.
Contact Rosenbaum Law Group
Although you do all you can to stay safe while riding, you can’t always keep from getting into a crash caused by a negligent driver. If that happens, Rosenbaum Law Group can help you on the road to recovery by obtaining appropriate compensation through an insurance settlement or jury verdict. Call our experienced Portland bicycle accident lawyers today for a free consultation to discuss your claim.