Sharing the Sidewalk: Bicycle Attorney Ray Thomas Weighs In

As Portland grows more bicycle friendly, many pedestrians are feeling left out in the cold. Oregonian columnist Joseph Rose recently addressed the issue of sharing the sidewalk when a reader asked whether, if cyclists are treated as motorists on roadways, they should still be using sidewalks and crosswalks like pedestrians.

Rose noted that cyclists are legally permitted to use both roads and sidewalks in Oregon, and he asked bicycle lawyer Ray Thomas to weigh in.

“Historically, they’ve had that option,” said Thomas said in the article. “But more bicyclists and pedestrians are now competing for the same amount of space.”

Bicyclists who choose to use the sidewalk have the responsibility to do so safely, according to ORS 814.410, which provides that a person commits the offense of “unsafe operation of a bicycle on a sidewalk” if the person:

  • Suddenly leaves the curb or other place of safety and moves into the path of a vehicle, causing an immediate hazard.
  • Fails to give an audible warning before passing a pedestrian while riding on the sidewalk.
  • Fails to yield to all pedestrians on the sidewalk.
  • Rides carelessly or in a manner that endangers others or endangers property.
  • Rides at a speed greater than an ordinary walk when approaching or entering a crosswalk, driveway, curb cut or pedestrian ramp if a motor vehicle is approaching.