Where Can You Ride? An Overview of OR and WA Bike Lane, Roadway, and Sidewalk Cycling Laws

This article covers where cyclists can ride under Oregon and Washington law.

Oregon law

Bike lanes

For cyclists, it is often preferable to be is in a bike lane. Oregon law requires cyclists ride within a bicycle lane or path when there is one adjacent to or near the roadway. ORS 814.420(1). 

Cyclists may exit the bike lane or path if they are overtaking or passing a bicycle, vehicle, or pedestrian in the bicycle lane, and passage cannot be safely made within the lane or path. ORS 814.420(3)(a).  Cyclists may also exit the lane or path when preparing to execute a left turn, avoiding debris, executing a right turn, or continuing straight when the bicycle lane or path is to the right of a lane from which a motor vehicle must turn right. ORS 814.420(3)(b)-(e).


When there is no bicycle lane, cyclists may ride in the traffic lane. ORS 814.430. Cyclists who are not impeding the normal movement of traffic may occupy the entire lane and ride two abreast. ORS 814.430(1),(2)(e).

Cyclists traveling at a speed less than normal traffic must ride as far to the right as practicable, or if the road is a one-way road, may also ride as far to the left as practicable. ORS 814.430(1),(2)(d).  There are exceptions allowing cyclists to move toward the center of the lane to pass another bicycle or vehicle, when preparing to turn left, or to avoid hazardous conditions. ORS 814.430(2).


In Oregon, cyclists may ride on the sidewalk in many areas. Cyclists on the sidewalk must ride carefully, yield the right of way to pedestrians, give audible warning prior to overtaking pedestrians, and must operate at a walking speed when approaching a driveway or crosswalk that a motor vehicle is also approaching.  ORS 814.410.

It is important to check the rules for the specific area you are in because cities and counties may have additional rules. For example, in Portland, cyclists may not ride on the sidewalk between SW Jefferson to the south, SW Hoyt to the north, 13th Ave to the West, and Naito parkway to the east. Portland City Code 16.70.320. 

Washington law

Across the Columbia the rules are similar, with some noteworthy differences.

Bike lanes

Unlike Oregon, Washington does not require cyclists ride in the bicycle lane or path. RCW 46.61.770(4) Washington law simply allows cyclists to use the shoulder or bicycle lane. RCW 46.61.770(4).


In Washington, cyclists operating bicycles upon the roadway at a rate of speed less than the normal flow of traffic at that time and place must ride as near to the right of the through lane as is safe, or if the road is a one-way road, may also ride to the far left. RCW 46.61.770.  Similar to Oregon law, there are exceptions for cyclists turning or preparing to turn, approaching an intersection where right turns are permitted and there is a designated turn lane, while overtaking and passing another bicycle or vehicle in the same direction, and as necessary to avoid unsafe conditions. RCW 46.61.770 (1)

Washington cyclists may ride up to two abreast, or more if on paths or parts of roadways set aside exclusively for bicycles. RCW 46.61.770(5)

The Washington State Department of Transportation encourages cyclists in slower traffic and at busy intersections to take the lane.


Washington cyclists may ride on the sidewalk unless otherwise prohibited from doing so, and must yield the right of way to pedestrians in sidewalks or crosswalks. RCW 46.61.261. Like in Oregon, it is worth looking up the rules for the city you are in.


PDX Dream Team Riding on the Shoulder of U.S. 30