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Oregon bicycle law blog

Does an Oregon Bicyclist Have to Obey the Same Laws as a Motor Vehicle Driver?

Yes, a bicyclist in Oregon has to follow all of the same “Rules of the Road” as a motor vehicle driver.

A bicycle is a vehicle and Oregon law makes that clear: ORS 814.400 says that “a bicycle is a vehicle for purposes of the vehicle code.” The law also says that “When the term ‘bicycle’ is used the term shall be deemed to be applicable to bicycles.”

So, every person riding a bicycle has to follow the same rules, but has the same rights as, the driver of any other vehicle on the roads. ORS 814.400(1). This is limited, though, to not require bicycles to follow the laws that cannot have an application, like unlawful engine braking. The law is also clarified to not include those rules that specifically exclude bicyclists, like the prohibition on passing on the right.

What if the law refers to “motor vehicles”? Does that exclude bicyclists? It does not. In 2002 the case of State of Oregon v. David F. Potter was decided by the Oregon Court of Appeals. The court held that, unless a vehicle code statute specifically excludes bicycles, it applies to them, even if the language specifically says “motor vehicle.”

Charley Gee is a Portland personal injury attorney. He focuses his practice on representing bicyclists and pedestrians against insurance companies, corporations, and the government in the Pacific NW.

Thank you to Kara Bredahl who assisted in the research for this post.

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