As many of us prepared for this July 4 holiday week the Oregon legislature passed a key bike safety measure and sent it to Governor Kate Brown. As outlined by The Oregonian, Senate Bill 998 will “allow bicyclists to legally treat stop signs or intersections with flashing red signals as a yield sign, meaning they would not be required to come to a complete stop.”
The paper notes that similar legislation has been effect in Idaho for more than three decades and that that the measure has long been pushed by bike advocates in our state. By allowing cyclists to maintain momentum in situations where it is safe to do so it will improve the general flow of traffic on our roads and bike paths, and reduce the risk of falls at intersections for riders using clip-in pedals.
Crucially, SB 998 is not a license for riders to ignore stop signs. As The Oregonian reports, the bill says cyclists need not come to a complete stop only “as long as they slow to a safe speed, yield the right of way to pedestrians, and yield to traffic that is already in the intersection or approaching so close as to constitute an immediate hazard.”
Oregon’s legal code already goes out of its way to protect the rights of cyclists. ORS 814.400 applies most vehicle laws to bike riders (a similar statute – RCW 46.61.755 – protects riders in Washington), and ORS 814.420 details the circumstances under which a rider can leave a bike lane. The former protects riders when they are sharing the rode with cars and trucks, while the latter offers essential protections both when riders are in bike lanes and when they must venture out of them. The new law regarding stop signs is not the only pro-cycling measure to make it through the legislature this year. Late last month, Governor Brown signed HB 2682, a bill designed to protect cyclists’ rights as they navigate intersections (click here for an earlier blog going into this in more detail).
As an Oregon lawyer with a special interest in helping the cycling community I am very pleased to see both of these developments. They are reminders of how much cycling matters in Portland and throughout Oregon and Washington state.
Washington State Department of Transportation: Washington State bicycle laws