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Oregon Bicycle Law Summary

Oregon Bicycle Law Summary

Below is a quick-reference summary of Oregon bicycle law. For a more in-depth analysis, including full text of each statute, please see our legal guide, Pedal Power: A Legal Guide for Oregon Bicyclists.


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Roads and Highways

  • Cyclists may occupy an entire lane and ride up to two abreast if not impeding the “normal movement of traffic.” ORS 814.430(1) and (2)(e)
  • Cyclists riding at less than the normal speed of traffic must ride as far to the right as practicable (or the left on a one-way). ORS 814.430(1),(2)(a-d)

EXCEPT:

  • When passing;
  • When making a left turn;
  • When necessary to avoid hazards, or;
  • When the road is too narrow for a bicycle and another vehicle to travel safely side by side.

Sidewalks

  • Bikes may ride on sidewalks except where prohibited in urban core areas; ORS 814.410 (2).

Yield Laws

  • Bicyclists Must Yield:
  • To pedestrians, AND give an audible warning when passing. ORS 814.410 (b)
  • To the vehicle approaching on the right in unmarked intersections. ORS 811.275 (1)

 

Passing

  • Motorists passing at faster than 35mph must leave sufficient room to miss bicyclist if rider fell over into traffic lane; at lower speed motorist must provide “safe distance” when passing. ORS 811.065 (1) (a)(A)(B)

Bike Lanes

  • Bikes must use available bike lanes except when necessary to safely turn, pass, or avoid a hazard. ORS 814.420 (1), (3) (a)(b)(c)

Speed

  • Same legal requirements as other vehicles except no faster than “an ordinary walk” when approaching and entering a crosswalk, or approaching or crossing a driveway or curbcut if a motor vehicle is approaching. ORS 814.410 (1)(d)

Lights

  • Bicycle must show a white light to the front and a red reflector or light to the rear during “limited visibility conditions.” ORS 815.280 (2)(c)

Signals

  • Turns and stops require a hand signal for 100 feet beforehand unless “circumstances require that both hands be used to safely control the bicycle.” ORS 814.440

Helmets

  • Required by law for riders under 16 years of age. ORS 814.485

Personal Injury

Will the Insurance Policy Limits be Enough Money to Pay My Damages?

Is there enough insurance to pay all of your damages for personal injury after a wreck? Fairness requires that you be given an honest answer about how much insurance there is to pay for your injuries. But insurance companies are not required by law to tell you how much the responsible party has in insurance coverage. And for all you know there may be a million dollars of coverage as part of a comprehensive Auto/Personal Liability Umbrella policy package, or as little as $25,000 which is the Oregon minimum bodily injury insurance limit that is required by law. But $25,000 barely pays for an overnight stay in the hospital. If you ask an insurance adjuster for the policy limit available to pay your damages the usual answer you will receive is a vague reference to whether it is a small limit policy or something like “The policy limit should be adequate to pay your damages.” Well what does this mean? If you press for an answer you are usually told that this information may only be released with the consent of the insured party. If you say to ask the insured to release the limit information in the majority of cases the information is still not released. In our office we tell the claims adjuster that when this happens we cannot advise our client to settle without knowing what sums are available to pay damages. We always succeed in forcing the insurance company to release policy limits information because we tell the insurance company to tell their insured that if the policy limit is not voluntarily disclosed we will file a lawsuit, likely for an amount above the policy limit, and force disclosure because the Oregon Rules Of Civil Procedure (ORCP 36(B)(2) requires disclosure of insurance limits available to pay the damages claimed in a filed lawsuit. We tell the insurance company that by failing to persuade the insured to voluntarily disclose the policy limits they exposed their insured to a possible “excess verdict” above the limits of their insurance. After hearing this analysis it has never been our experience that the policy limits were held back. Knowing the policy limits in advance of negotiation gives us the information we need to properly evaluate the amount of “skin in the game” this insurance company has, and to give us advance warning that insurance limits may be insufficient to cover the full damages and that we need to conduct an asset investigation of the at fault party to find out if they have the financial ability to contribute funds or assets to any settlement

Should I give a statement to an insurance company after I was hurt in a collision?

Whenever someone is hurt in a collision with an at fault insured driver there is a standard protocol automobile insurance companies follow in having a claim adjuster contact the parties and witnesses to find out what happened, usually just a few days after the collision. The purpose of the investigation is to attempt to determine fault and set the “reserves” on a personal injury case. What most folks are not told when they get one of these calls is what information from witnesses, other parties, or the police the insurance company has already collected. Further, before the call is made for an interview the insurance adjuster will usually examine the applicable legal requirements from the state traffic law. Thus, the “interview” is not an informed interview or one that is a fair and complete exchange of information. Instead it is a chance for the insurance company to subject the victim of a collision to a cross examination without the benefits of a full briefing of the applicable laws and legal issues in advance. While a person has a right to decline one of these interviews, most folks try to be cooperative and provide their side of the story.

It is our advice to follow the same applicable considerations experienced witnesses or participants in traumatic events are usually advised to obtain and consider before an interview:

Applicable Considerations Before An Interview

1. obtain a briefing on the applicable law before the interview

2. find out what other witnesses have said

3. review the police reports

4. do not give an interview when you are still in pain or upset from the wreck, and not when you are under the effects of any pain medication

5. find out whether you can delay the interview until after you have adequately prepared yourself

6. find out what happens if you decline to give an interview

In our experience after we find out about the applicable considerations we often decide that an interview of our client will not have an effect on the insurance company’s decision on liability as they have already concluded our client was mostly at fault. In that instance the interview only gives the insurance company another point of attack in a case they are not intending to settle any way. Other times, after reviewing the applicable considerations, we decide that our client can contribute to a favorable liability determination and we help to set up the interview. Even where we see a likely valid situation for an interview we usually agree to participate only on the condition that the interview not be recorded. Most insurance company interviewers do not tell the witness that the interview does not have to be recorded. Instead the insurance company interviewer can take notes and use those notes to summarize what the party says in a report to the company. This way the interview recording will not be later used against the witness in court.

And the interview process exists for the benefit of the insurance companies, not the injured parties. If it were otherwise then the insurance would not refuse to share their interviews of other witnesses and other parties with the person making an insurance claim. Our requests for witness interviews of others are almost always met with a “Work Product” based refusal to share. We are able to obtain any interviews of our own clients, but not other witnesses or other parties, even when we are not able to have access to the folks the insurance company has already interviewed.

The one exception is when the collision victim’s own insurance company conducts interviews of the injured person. Not only will the injured person’s company release their interview, but usually the insurance company for the hurt person will also release the interviews they conducted of others.

At the very least every person should have the benefit of a briefing of their rights and the applicable facts and laws before an insurance company interview.


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Oregon Bicycle Law Summary

Representative Cases

O’Dell v. Shorenstein, et al., Washington County 2018

Plaintiff, an active mother of four, slipped and fell on black ice while walking from a partially covered parking garage connected to a large office building where she worked. Plaintiff suffered a severe right ankle fracture requiring surgery and resulting…
Learn More

Neighborhood Cyclist v. Elderly Driver 2018

An elderly driver claimed the setting sun impaired his view when he ran a red light and struck our client, a 38-year-old husband and father, on his bicycle in North Portland. Our client was cycling home from a nearby neighborhood…
Learn More

Miller v. Ford Motor Co. 2018

Ms. Miller bought a Ford Escape in 2001.  It was manufactured in Missouri.  The Ford caught fire sitting in Ms. Miller’s garage one night in May, 2012 because of a faulty electronic sensor; the fire spread to her home, and…
Learn More
View All Cases
Thanks & Praise

Testimonials

  • I would like to let you know how much I appreciate the superb job that Cynthia Newton and Chris Thomas have done.
    They represented me with amazing professionalism in my bike accident case. Despite the insurance company's claim, they proved that the accident happened due to my opposing party's fault. They had a very difficult task at hand since there was no police report, and it was several months after my accident when I was advised to see your law firm, where the best bike accident attorneys are in Portland.

    Cynthia was ready to take my very difficult case, that resulted a settlement with the insurance company. Cynthia always informed me, explained what to expect, that helped me understand her job. I met Chris for the first time at the deposition. I was amazed by his series of elegant questions that helped to prove that the insurance company's statements were wrong.

    Cynthia and Chris are not only excellent attorneys, but also very kind and lovely people. Additionally, both are dedicated bikers.

    Finally, I should appreciate Rebecca Cassady's and Kristin Kidd's "background" job by doing the administration and gathering tons of health insurance information about my healing progress, which amount to a 7 inch tall stack of paper. Thank you so much all of your excellent job again,

    Thank you so much for all of your excellent work again.
    Eva, Portland, OR
  • We traveled from Utah for a two week bicycling vacation in Oregon.
    As an RV mirror struck my arm it shattered my left humerus and causing my wife to crash too with numerous injuries.  Upon returning home a friend knew this firm and reputation for handling bike v auto accidents.  We researched this law firm and on our first phone call late on a Friday afternoon, Jim Coon took the time to explain Oregon bike (friendly) law some legislated by their firm; and how his firm could help us through the insurance claim - alleviating our concerns for the claim so we could focus on healing (year long process).  The claim involved two insurance companies and a mountain of medical which his staff assisted in managing throughout the nearly two year process.  They were able to bring about the settlement we were expecting and manage our fiduciary responsibilities in the closure of the case.  Sadly we never personally met our team because they deserve a HUGE hug from these Utahan's.
    Lyle & Gladys
  • I had heard that Ray was excellent at law for cyclists and I only wanted to be concerned with my health and well-being, so we picked him.
    The staff understood my problems and the advice always seemed to move my case in a better direction. All questions I had during my case were answered quickly and in a very timely fashion. I would recommend anyone in a cycling legal case to Ray.
    Right hooked cyclist with fractured collar bone
  • I practiced personal injury law in Portland for most of my nearly forty-one-year career.
    In 2012 I was retained by a 31-year-old husband and father of two who had been catastrophically injured - including being permanently blinded in both eyes - when he was run over by a piece of construction equipment in a work accident in Clark County, Washington.  In on-the-job accidents, a worker may not sue his employer for negligence and this was one of those cases where any case against other contractors on the job would be expensive, legally complex and technically challenging.  I decided, after conducting many hours of research and investigation, that a case could be made but it would be a long and expensive undertaking.  While continuing to work on the case, I began looking for help from another firm.  I talked with a number of lawyers but each of them thought that the case would be too expensive and difficult to take on. Then a trial lawyer friend of mine recommended Ray Thomas and his firm. I had known Ray for many years and called him up and gave him an overview of the case. He was aware of the difficulties but felt the case had merit, so he and his partner Cynthia Newton filed a Freedom of Information action and obtained access to all of the thousands of pages of documents for the construction project. The documents revealed that the other contractors on the job site had failed to provide a job site plan for safe movement of equipment and traffic, despite the fact that run over, backing and pinch point injuries and deaths are extreme dangers for workers on jobs like this one. Their partner, Jim Coon, filed the personal injury and loss of consortium lawsuit in both Oregon and Washington, and he fought to obtain the necessary legal rulings to go forward with the case. After many depositions and other preparation for trial, the case was finally settled shortly before trial, in February 2017, in a confidential settlement that included satisfaction of a large Washington Labor and Industries lien.

    I believe that the work done by Ray, Jim, Cynthia and their staff was pivotal to obtaining an excellent result for our client, and also delivered the important message that job traffic control safety is important. Without their strong work it is unlikely that such favorable results would have been obtained.
    Doug Hagen, Portland
  • Ray’s reference reached as far away as Kansas.
    An attorney family member connected me to a local Portland lawyer that suggested Ray Thomas was the authority on bicycle accidents. I was completely unfamiliar with processing everything related to my accident, insurance, property damage, health, and recovery.  Ray and his staff, including Kayla and Charley, guided me through every step in a thoughtful and comprehensive manner.  I was never caught unaware. Questions were answered accurately and promptly!  Requests that were made of me were reasonable, fully explained, and patient. I do not have a single reservation recommending you to friends and family in the future. I wouldn't hesitate to contact you personally if ever the need would arise.
    Portland Architect Right Hooked By Car
  • A former co-worker, who is experienced with work with visually impaired pedestrians highly recommend Ray.
    As being a visually impaired and hit by a motor vehicle, I sought out someone with expertise and compassion on my behalf. Ray and his staff understood my legal problems, provided me with expert legal advice and they were always available to answer my questions in a timely manner. I would recommend others to Ray and his firm.
    Blind Pedestrian Hit By Car Backing Out Of Driveway
  • At the time of my accident, I rode regularly with the cycling club Portland Velo.
    Ray had previously represented a case for another club member and he was strongly recommended to me by the cycling club leaders.  When I researched Ray online, I saw that he was active in Oregon cycling law, and a cyclist himself.  It was time to meet. When asked if Ray and his staff were able to understand my legal problems and provide expert legal advice, yes. In my case, it was really about understanding the nuances of automobile insurance.  And surprising to me, it was less about the insurance of the driver of the vehicle that struck me and more about my own auto insurance coverage as relates to cycling. I would add that due to his vast experience, Ray's insights go well beyond pure legal advice.  I had a complicated recovery and received conflicting guidance from my doctors as to some treatment options.  Ray has 'seen it all' and could relate prior cases with a variety of treatment paths for me to discuss with my physicians.  Personally, this expertise was equally if not more valuable to me than the insurance settlement. In general, Ray and his team did a fine job of responding to my questions throughout my two year case.  It did seem that periodically they 'got busy' with other cases, and it helped for me to follow up.  But I attributed this to a smaller firm with a high level of personal involvement from the partners. I strongly recommend Ray and his staff.  They are "good people" who care about their clients and the work they do on the clients behalf.
    Overtaking Car Struck Recreational Cyclist Causing Multiple Fractures
  • I decided to hire Ray as my lawyer
    after I heard that you were the leading firm fighting for the rights of cyclists and were an integral part of helping to create and modify laws as needed for cycling rights. Ray and his staff understood legal problems and were able to provide expert legal advice way more than we knew was possible. I'm not a litigious person but when attacked into a life threatening situation you learn how important the work is that you all do. Every single day Ray and his staff were available to answer my questions in a timely way. I have recommended people over the years who are looking for a lawyer to represent their legal rights and will continue to do so.
    Cyclist Hit from Behind While Riding Bike On The Job Resulting In Lower Extremity Fractures
  • The reason I called was because of Ray Thomas' blog on Bike Portland.
    I love that you are bicyclists and that's part of  your outline.   I am very happy with Jim Coon, Amanda, & Rebecca.
    John V., Portland
  • You were all very incredible to work with!
    Amanda is stellar and I am so appreciative of her and everyone else who made an unfortunate and challenging situation SO much better.
    B.H., Portland
  • I am so glad
    that a member of the Bicycle Transportation Alliance referred me to Swanson, Thomas, Coon & Newton. I felt so much relief after the first time I met Cynthia and Kristin. Thank you.
    Emily, Portland
  • Cynthia,
    thank you so much for handling my case in an efficient and extremely competent manner. It was a real pleasure working with you all.
    Lauren, Portland
  • Cynthia Newton helped me
    get proper medical attention when I needed it in the form I needed, chiro/massage. You helped me deal with the complexity of bills and insurance companies. I could have never gotten through this without the three of you! I am very thankful and very much in awe that the fee came to so little, and that I will be able to either fix or repair my bicycle.

    Thank you!
    Shen, Seattle, WA
  • Cynthia and Amanda
    were a critical part of putting my life back together. I don’t know what I would have done without their help.
    Kelly P., Portland, OR
  • As I’m Japanese
    I’ve never thought of doing this and having a favorable result. It is because of your great support. Thank you very much indeed. To Amanda-san, I always appreciate your prompt reply and support. I am working at the law firm, but I have never done such things, so I wanted to clarify several things. Always, always, always Amanda-san replied me back promptly and helped me out. Thank you indeed. Hope it won’t happen again like this, but I will definitely ask you guys to help me out again.
    Miho, Tokyo, Japan
  • I love the people at this firm.
    I felt like they had known me forever by the way I was taken care of.
    Emily R., Portland, OR
  • In an instant my life changed.
    My name is Jeff; an electrician by trade. What I thought to be just another ordinary work day changed in a split second. While working near the top portion of my eight foot ladder, a careless forklift driver backed through my ladder. The impact threw me onto the roof portion of the fork lift, then onto the cement floor dislocating my shoulder. While at the hospital, x-rays showed the seriousness of my injuries. It would take shoulder surgery along with extensive therapy to discover a partial permanent injury to my shoulder, one that would take my career as an electrician away. At fifty-five years old I was permanently injured, scared, frustrated, and out of work. What now? What was I going to do?

    By the grace of God my path crossed with Cynthia Newton an attorney with Swanson, Thomas, Coon & Newton, Attorneys at Law. Cynthia became my voice in a very difficult and vulnerable time in my life. Cynthia’s knowledge of the law along with her calm demeanor helped me and my wife through the frustration and mental fatigue of a lawsuit such as this. The attorneys that helped me with this accident were the reason I was able to win a fair settlement. Chris Frost handled the Worker’s Compensation portion of this lawsuit. Chris has knowledge of law that would impress anyone; her attention to detail while keeping me up to date with any changes made a difference with this case and made both my wife and I feel as comfortable as anyone can feel that is going through something like this. Kristin Kidd and Rosemary Anderson are two of the best paralegals a law office could have. Both helped me with questions and details again giving me peace of mind. Ray Thomas’s legal savvy and presence was an enormous influence with settling this case. My wife and I were very happy with the agreed settlement that we were able to receive. We would have never been able to receive what we did without the help from this fabulous legal team. When a person chooses the law firm of Swanson, Thomas, Coon & Newton they receive a complete team of professionals that are dedicated to their clients. I hope I never need to hire another attorney, but if the need should arise, I will use Swanson, Thomas, Coon & Newton again simply because my belief is that they are the best of the best.
    Jeff, Sherwood
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