A Quick Reference Guide to

Oregon Bike Law

This guide is intended to serve as a reference for the most commonly asked questions about bicycle laws in Oregon.

Bicycle Operation and Oregon Law
Vehicle Designation
  • A bicycle is a vehicle under Oregon law, and with that designation comes all the rights and responsibilities applicable to motor vehicle operators (except those that by their very nature cannot apply or are specifically not applicable by the particular statute).  ORS 814.400.

Bicycle and Bicyclist Equipment Requirements
Helmets
  • Bicyclists and bicycle passengers under the age of 16 must wear a helmet while operating on a highway (meaning any public way, road, or street per ORS 801.305) or premises open to the public.  The parent, legal guardian, or person with legal responsibility for a child under 16 can be cited for allowing the minor to ride without a helmet.  ORS 814.485 and ORS 814.486.

 
Lights
  • When a bicycle is being operated in limited visibility conditions (defined as any time from sunset to sunrise or when conditions make persons or vehicles not clearly discernable from a distance of 1000 feet away), bicycle lights are required.  Bicycles must be equipped with a front white light visible from 500 feet and a rear red light or reflector visible from 600 feet.  ORS 815.280 and ORS 801.325.

 
Brakes
  • A bicycle must be equipped with a brake that enables the operator to stop the bicycle within 15 feet from a speed of 10 miles per hour on dry, level, clean pavement.  ORS 815.280(2)(a).

Bicycle Operation Requirements
Riding to the Right
  • If riding slower than the normal speed of traffic, a bicyclist must ride as close as practicable to the right curb or edge of the roadway unless they are passing another vehicle, preparing to turn left, avoiding hazardous conditions, or when operating next to one other bicycle in a way that traffic is not impeded (meaning that traffic cannot safely and lawfully go around the bicycle.) ORS 814.430 and State v. Tiffin, 202 Or App 199 (2005).  

  • In cities a bicyclist can ride as far to the left as practicable on one way streets with the same requirements and exceptions as riding to the right.  ORS 814.430(2)(d).  

  • A bicyclist is not required to ride as far to the right as practicable if they are riding in a bicycle lane. ORS 814.430(2)(f).   

 
Bicycle Lanes
  • If a bicyclist is riding on a street that has a bicycle lane, the bicyclist is required to use the bicycle lane unless they are passing another vehicle, preparing to execute a turn, avoiding a hazardous condition, or where the bicycle lane becomes a right turn lane.  ORS 814.420.

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Sidewalks
  • Bicyclists are allowed to operate on sidewalks except where prohibited by local ordinance.  Bicyclists on sidewalks are subject to the same rights and responsibilities as pedestrians.  ORS 814.410(2).

  • Electric assisted bicycles are prohibited from operation on all sidewalks.  ORS 814.410(1)(e).

Interactions with Other Highway Users
Passing
  • Bicyclists can pass on the left like other vehicles.   Bicyclists can also pass vehicles on the right if the passage may be safely made under the existing circumstances.  ORS 811.415(2)(b).

 
Being Passed
  • Bicyclists must always be passed safely.  ORS 811.410(1)(a).  If a vehicle passing a bicyclist is travelling over 35 miles per hour, the overtaking vehicle must pass the bicyclist at a distance that is sufficient to prevent contact with the bicyclist if the bicyclist were to fall over into the lane of traffic.  ORS 811.065(1)(a).  

 
Sidewalks
  • Motor vehicles must yield to bicyclists riding on the sidewalk.  ORS 811.055.  When a bicyclist is riding on the sidewalk and is approaching and entering into a crosswalk, or is crossing a driveway, curb cut, or pedestrian ramp, and a motor vehicle is approaching, the bicyclist must slow to the speed of an ordinary walk.  ORS 814.410(1)(d).

  • A bicyclist must yield the right-of-way to all pedestrians on a sidewalk and must give an audible signal before passing them.  ORS 814.410.

  • A bicyclist cannot leave the sidewalk and move into the path of a motor vehicle so close as to constitute an immediate hazard.  ORS 814.410(1)(a).  

 
Crosswalks
  • Bicyclists must stop and remain stopped for a pedestrian in a crosswalk.  ORS 811.028.  

 
Bicycle Lanes
  • Motor vehicles operators are required to yield the right-of-way to bicyclists in a bicycle lane.  ORS 811.050.  Motor vehicles are not allowed to operate on a bicycle lane except to cross over in order to park or turn.  ORS 811.440.  

  • Motor vehicles are prohibited from stopping and parking on bicycle lanes except when loading or unloading goods or passengers or when the motor vehicle is disabled.  ORS 811.560.

 
Dooring
  • A motor vehicle operator or passenger is prohibited from opening a door in a way that interferes with traffic, including bicyclists, or is not reasonably safe.  ORS 811.490.

 
Transit buses
  • A vehicle operator, including a bicyclist, must yield the right-of-way to a transit bus that is entering traffic when the bus has an illuminated flashing yield sign displayed.  ORS 811.167.

 
Signaling
  • A bicyclist is required to signal their turns and stops.  ORS 814.440.

  • A bicyclist must continuously signal their stops 100 feet ahead of the stop by extending their left hand and arm downward.  ORS 814.440(1)(a) and ORS 811.395(3)(a).

  • A bicyclist must signal a left turn 100 feet ahead of the turn by extending their left hand and arm horizontally to the left.  ORS 814.440(1)(b) and ORS 811.395(1)(a).

  • A bicyclist must signal their right turn 100 feet ahead of the turn by either extending their left hand and arm upward on the left side or by extending their right hand and arm horizontally.  ORS 814.440(1)(b) and ORS 811.395(2)(a).

  • If stopped and intending to turn a bicyclist must give the appropriate turn signal while stopped before executing the turn.  ORS 811.440(1)(c).  

  • A bicyclist is not required to fulfill the signal requirements if they cannot give the appropriate continuous signal and operate or control their bicycle safely.  ORS 814.440(2).

Disclaimer: The information provided on this website is offered for informational purposes. It is not offered as and does not constitute, legal advice. An attorney-client relationship is not established by the sending of or responding to email. Website visitors are encouraged to contact a lawyer for specific legal advice. 

 

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