Oregon’s ‘Vulnerable User’ Law Makes News Across Country

Several years ago, bicycle and pedestrian rights attorney Ray Thomas worked with other Oregon activists to pioneer a “vulnerable user” law to protect pedestrians, cyclists and other road users who are not surrounded by the metal shell of a vehicle. While a familiar concept in Europe, the 2008 Oregon law was the first of its kind in the United States.

Now other states are beginning to follow Oregon’s lead.

Thomas was recently interviewed about the vulnerable user law by the St. Petersburg Times in Florida, whose notoriously dangerous roads prompted one newspaper columnist to  write an article suggesting that the state should adopt similar legislation.

New York and Delaware have already followed in Oregon’s footsteps by enacting vulnerable user laws last year.

Oregon’s law increased penalties for careless drivers who cause the death of a pedestrian or other vulnerable users, from the previous $750 to $12,500.

“Law enforcement people aren’t as likely to think, ‘What is that goofy guy doing riding his bike on the road? Doesn’t he know he can get killed?’ ” Thomas told the St. Petersburg Times.