It’s been a while – time for a little rant.
Portland is known far and wide across the land for their progressive take on public and alternative transportation. Those of you that live or visit here know that the city is quite proud of it’s Pro-Bicycle stance and the things they have done to make things easier for bicyclists.
What they have not done, however, is sat all the damn bikers down and explained to them the laws actually governing their use on public roadways. This has gotten to the point that your average bicyclist thinks that none of the regular traffic laws apply to them. You want to know what the absolute rarest sight in Portland is? A cyclist stopping at a stop sign.
So, without further ado, this page lists all of the ordinances that exist in regards to riding a bicycle on public streets and sidewalks. I’ll be going through the most important ones to explain and amplify.
814.400 Application of vehicle laws to bicycles. (1) Every person riding a bicycle upon a public way is subject to the provisions applicable to and has the same rights and duties as the driver of any other vehicle concerning operating on highways, vehicle equipment and abandoned vehicles (minor exception follows).
(2) Subject to the provisions of subsection (1) of this section:
(a) A bicycle is a vehicle for purposes of the vehicle code; and
(b) When the term “vehicle” is used the term shall be deemed to be applicable to bicycles.
What this means to you: You must obey ALL traffic laws (not just the ones you want) and you must stop at all stop signs and red lights (California Rolls are not allowed.) Most importantly, the Oregon Driver’s Manual clearly states for motorcycles and mopeds that a full stop is defined as ceasing all motion and putting a foot down on the ground. Don’t do that wobbly shit where you try to balance on the pedals, and for fuck’s sake, if I have to sit my car at the light until it turns green, then so the fuck do you.
If any biker ever saw a car pulling the same stunts they do in traffic, the biker would be appalled and calling the driver all sorts of interesting names. Same thing goes both ways assholes, and every time I see you sailing through a red light with barely a glance or a break in stride, I want to go home and mount paintball guns on my car so I can hose you down.
814.420: Failure to use bicycle lane or path; exceptions; penalty.
(1) Except asprovided in subsections (2) and (3) of this section, a person commits the offense of failure to use a bicycle lane or path if the person operates a bicycle on any portion of a roadway that is not a bicycle lane or bicycle path when a bicycle lane or bicycle path is adjacent to or near the roadway.
What this means to you: This is very simple, and they list some reasonable exceptions. Basically, if you aren’t avoiding an obstacle or preparing to make a turn to the far side of the street, then keep your ass in the bike lane. The City/County/State Department of Transportation spent good taxpayer money to mark out those bike lanes, and the rest of us taxpayers expect you to use them.
This next one really pisses me off, because they’ve gone and misquoted the law on a bumper sticker. The sticker says “Bicycles Allowed Full Lane ORS 814.430(2)(c)”. Well the “(2)(c)” is the small section of the law they’re quoting, but the ORS in question reads:
814.430: Improper use of lanes; exceptions; penalty.
(1) A person commits the offense of improper use of lanes by a bicycle if the person is operating a bicycle on a roadway at less than the normal speed of traffic using the roadway at that time and place under the existing conditions and the person does not
ride as close as practicable to the right curb or edge of the roadway.
(2) A person is not in violation of the offense under this section if the person is not operating a bicycle as close as practicable to the right curb or edge of the roadway under any of the following circumstances:
(a) When overtaking and passing another bicycle or vehicle that is proceeding in the same direction.
(b) When preparing to execute a left turn.
(c) When reasonably necessary to avoid hazardous conditions including, but not limited to, fixed or moving objects, parked or moving vehicles, bicycles, pedestrians, animals, surface hazards or other conditions that make continued operation along the right curb or edge unsafe or to avoid unsafe operation in a lane on the roadway that is too narrow for a bicycle and vehicle to travel safely side by side. Nothing in this paragraph excuses the operator of a bicycle from the requirements under ORS 811.425 or from the penalties for failure to comply with those requirements.
(d) When operating within a city as near as practicable to the left curb or edge of a roadway that is designated to allow traffic to move in only one direction along the roadway. A bicycle that is operated under this paragraph is subject to the same requirements and exceptions when operating along the left curb or edge as are applicable when a bicycle is operating along the right curb or edge of the roadway.
(e) When operating a bicycle alongside not more than one other bicycle as long as the bicycles are both being operated within a single lane and in a manner that does not impede the normal and reasonable movement of traffic.
(f) When operating on a bicycle lane or bicycle path.
Ahh, so the revised statute in fact deals with the penalties of improper lane use! Subsection 2 paragraph ‘C’ there clearly states (in conjunction with the main paragraph) that you are allowed to use more of the lane when avoiding an obstacle – which is understandable. But go back up to the beginning, and the statute starts out saying that if you are bicycling slower than other vehicle traffic, you need to be riding close to the curb, not slowing down the whole lane.
And don’t forget the reference to ORS 811.425 – the full title of that one is “Failure of slower driver to yield to overtaking vehicle“. Yep! That’s right folks, if you can’t keep up with normal traffic, get your ass to the curb and let traffic pass you. You DO NOT get to lollygag and slow the rest of us down. Also, if you can’t keep up, you need to get out of the middle lane of those one-way streets Downtown. (Three days in a row I’ve been stuck behind some twat in the wrong gear going half the speed of everyone else while in the exact center of the middle lane. Going downhill on 4th. Fucker.)
And don’t forget about this guy.
Here’s an easy one to wrap up:
814.440: Failure to signal turn
This one is as typically long-winded as the others, but the gist is simple: you are supposed to signal for 100 feet before a turn or stop – even if you are stopping for a red light or a stop sign. I have seen maybe three bikers EVER who signaled a turn, and only one that signaled a stop.
So, all you bikers out there: you want a safe road to ride on? You want to stop worrying so much about getting clipped by a car? Then stop riding like assholes and follow the laws. You are NOT a special and unique snowflake, and riding a bicycle does NOT mean that you get to do whatever you want.
Oh, and you pedestrians out there, I don’t want you to feel left out – you’ll get your own rant in a day or so.