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Oregon bicycle law blog

Is it legal to run in the bike lane in Oregon?

Cyclists will often encounter people running in the bike lane. Runners, especially the more experienced and faster ones, prefer to run in bike lanes over the sidewalks in order to avoid driveways, curbs, and pavement defects.

Occasionally this will lead to a conflict. So, is it legal to run in a bike lane in Oregon?

I’ve already written about how it is illegal to walk or run in the street in Oregon. But there is a key word in the law that makes it legal to run in the bike lane in Oregon. It is “roadway”.

ORS 814.070(1)(a) makes it illegal to run or walk in the street when a sidewalk is available. When a pedestrian “takes a position upon or proceeds along and upon the roadway where there is an adjacent useable sidewalk or shoulder” they are breaking Oregon law.

However, the bicycle lane is not a portion of the roadway. It is defined as “that portion of the highway, adjacent to the roadway, designated by official signs or markings for use by persons riding bicycles…”(emphasis added).

Note that ORS 814.070 makes it illegal to walk on the roadway when there is a sidewalk available, not the highway (that would be contradictory since a sidewalk is also part of the highway).

So, pedestrians are allowed to run or walk in the bicycle lane because they are not prohibited from doing so and, under a longstanding maxim of common law, if a person is not prohibited by law from doing something they are therefore permitted to do it (nulla poena sine lege/”no penalty without a law”).

Note: ORS 811.050 Failure to yield to rider on bicycle lane only applies to motor vehicle operators.

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