The prevalence of car culture throughout the U.S. has been growing steadily due in part to the development of suburban landscapes and the induced demand brought about by highway systems. Despite this state of affairs, Oregon has seen a boom in bike usage, with 6.3% of commuters in its largest city opting to travel by bicycle. This number may seem negligible, but it’s significantly higher than the national average of 0.5%.
In line with this, Oregon has acquired a reputation for being bike-friendly; it has shown commitment to improving the cycling community’s welfare by pursuing and enforcing programs that come in various forms, such as bike infrastructure and policies. These have consequently led to a low accident rate, with bikes and other pedal bikes being involved in just 1.2% of all reported road mishaps in 2020.
In spite of the decreasing cycling accident figures in Oregon, it is always practical to know about local traffic laws and other related information — many of which are discussed in this article — in case one becomes involved in a bike accident.
Bicycle Safety Equipment Requirements in Oregon
In Oregon, individuals below 16 must wear a helmet when riding a bike. Failure to put one on constitutes a $25 fine. It is also important to ensure one’s headgear fits perfectly and meets the safety standards set by the Consumer Product Safety Commission.
People who are not legally required to wear a helmet when cycling are still encouraged to do so to prevent head and brain injuries in case of a mishap. Moreover, if one figures in a bike accident and experiences a head bump or fall, it is wise to replace the helmet used because it might not adequately serve its purpose in the future anymore.
Oregon law requires the use of a white headlight and a red taillight when cycling after dark. A reflector may also be installed instead of a rear light to maintain visibility on the road.
A brake is a required feature on bikes, according to state law. It should enable a cyclist going at 10 mph on a dry and even surface to halt within 15 feet.
Bike Operation Rules on Oregon Roads
On Bike Lanes
Bicycle lanes can either be separated from or connected to regular lanes. In both cases, cyclists should travel in the direction indicated in the pavement markings, which usually follows the direction of vehicular traffic.
Meanwhile, on some one-way streets, bike lanes go against the flow of vehicles. In this regard, a cyclist should be observant not just of other road users but also of traffic rules conveyed through road markers.
On Traffic Lanes
Bikes, legally considered vehicles in Oregon, are allowed on regular car lanes. Cyclists must go in the same direction as traffic and are usually advised to be in the rightmost lane’s center. Some roads also have sharrows — lanes designed for drivers and bike users to share.
While riding a bike is allowed on most roads in Oregon, there are freeways where bicyclists cannot pass through. These include various highways in Portland and Medford.
In Oregon, riding a bike on a sidewalk is usually permitted. However, since this infrastructure is intended for pedestrians, cyclists are urged to yield to them and maneuver with care.
Take note that some cities prohibit riding a bike on sidewalks in specific zones and districts.
Paths, unlike sidewalks, are meant for pedestrians and bicyclists alike. Despite this, people riding bikes should still practice caution by being on the safe side and not going at an excessive speed.
Signaling Rules for Bicyclists in Oregon
Oregon has a couple of rules that bike riders must follow regarding proper signaling:
A bicyclist should indicate their turns and stops through a hand and arm signal.
A bicyclist should demonstrate their intent to stop through a hand and arm signal at least 100 feet from the stop.
A bicyclist should demonstrate their intent to turn left or right through a hand and arm signal at least 100 feet from the turn.
A bicyclist in a stationary position should signal their intent to turn before doing so.
Breaking any of these rules may lead to a traffic violation. However, the law recognizes that safety comes first — if signaling poses risks in terms of bike operation, a bike rider is exempt from the rule.
E-bike Rules in Oregon
E-bikes — or electric-assisted bikes — are defined in Oregon as bicycles with an electric motor. In the state, only individuals 16 years old and older are allowed to ride them. In general, they can be operated on bike lanes, traffic lanes, and paths, but not on sidewalks. However, before riding one, make sure to check if there are specific county and city rules regarding their operation on public roads.
DUII Laws in Oregon
DUII laws apply to cyclists since the state categorizes bikes as vehicles. One may be guilty of DUII if they are under the influence of alcohol, a controlled substance, an inhalant, or any combination of these while operating a bicycle.
A person riding a bike suspected of DUII may refuse a chemical test, but they must take field sobriety tests. Not doing so can be grounds for a DUII charge, which is a Class A misdemeanor. If convicted, a series of consequences await the guilty party:
$1,000 in fines.
Possible license suspension.
Permanent criminal record.
Oregon’s Dooring Law
Dooring refers to opening a vehicle’s door to prevent pedestrians from passing by safely or at all. It may also pertain to spending a long time loading or unloading passengers from a vehicle on the side of the road. This law also protects cyclists in Oregon, even if they are riding on the sidewalk.
An infraction of the dooring law may lead to a $110 fine. It can also result in a claim or lawsuit if an accident arises and the victim suffers damages.
Oregon Is an At-fault State for Bike Accidents
Oregon follows the at-fault system, which means the liable party in a bike collision must pay for the damages incurred. In this case, a victim may submit a claim to the at-fault party’s insurance provider to obtain compensation. This rule applies to cases where a car driver has hit a cyclist.
Some car insurance add-ons also pay for a policyholder’s damages if they are injured while riding a bike. These include uninsured and underinsured coverage, as well as personal injury protection.
Moreover, the state abides by the modified comparative negligence system. This means that in a bike accident lawsuit, a plaintiff can still obtain compensation if their degree of fault does not exceed 50%. However, there will be a corresponding reduction in the final amount they can get. For instance, being deemed 20% responsible for an accident will result in a 20% decrease in one’s awarded damages; a recovery value amounting to $10,000 will be reduced to $8,000.
How Much One Can Sue for a Bicycle Accident in Oregon
Bike accident victims in Oregon may pursue economic and non-economic damages from the at-fault parties. Economic damages refer to financial losses, such as property damage and medical expenses. Meanwhile, non-economic damages are intangible. These include pain and suffering, loss of companionship, and diminished quality of life.
Another factor that may affect a case’s value is the lawyer's fee agreement. In Oregon, personal injury attorneys usually offer a contingency fee arrangement, with 33% of the victim’s awarded damages being the usual payment. However, the plaintiff will not be billed if their case is unsuccessful.
All these factors — in addition to the victim’s degree of fault — can affect the total value of a case. Some plaintiffs get four- to six-digit compensation, while others obtain millions in damages in extraordinary circumstances.
Oregon’s Statute of Limitations for Bicycle Accidents
In Oregon, personal injury victims are given two years to pursue legal action. The statute of limitations starts on the date the incident occurred. For bike collisions that have led to wrongful death, a plaintiff can file a case within three years.
If the victim is a minor, the statute of limitations is either five years from the accident date or until they turn 19, whichever comes first. Meanwhile, property damage claims are given a timeframe of six years.
If you are a bicycle accident victim planning to pursue a case to obtain compensation, the best course of action involves hiring an experienced lawyer. They can inform you of the appropriate statute of limitations for your case and represent your legal rights against the at-fault party.
Legal Resources for Oregon Bicycle Accident Victims
The organization has some programs to help those needing legal solutions, including bike accident victims. Its Lawyer Referral Service connects people with attorneys based on their legal problem’s category and their location. The Problem Solvers program, meanwhile, is a free referral initiative for minors from 13 to 17.
In Oregon, it is required to submit an accident report if a bicyclist has been involved in a collision with a motor vehicle that has resulted in injury, death, or up to $2,500 in damages. To help people with the process, this page details what should be done when filing a report with the DMV.
Oregon Division of Financial Regulation
This division is responsible for regulating the insurance industry in the state. It has pages discussing different types of insurance policies and add-ons. It also handles complaints from policyholders regarding their insurance provider.
This comprehensive guide discusses topics relevant to bicyclists and victims of bike accidents. It has a section on what to do in case of a bike collision. The manual also discusses state laws, local regulations, safety tips and strategies, and different transportation resources and groups.
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