Pass and Yield: Oregon Rules for Bikes

When you are driving, and pass a bicyclist, how much room do you leave? How much should you leave?

What are bicyclists supposed to do at a stop sign if no one else is around?

Photo: Noirathsi’s Eye
  1. On cars passing bicycles: While twenty-seven states have laws requiring cars give bicyclists at least three feet when passing, in Oregon, the law is more complicated. Drivers must pass at a safe distance, roughly defined as “fall over space.” In other words, enough space so that if the bicyclist falls into in the driver’s lane, the car won’t hit the bicyclist. Note though, this rule only applies: (a) when the speed limit is over 35; and (b) when the cyclist is not in a separate lane from the driver’s lane.
  2. On bicycles at stop signs: The Oregon Legislature recently passed a bill allowing bicyclists to ride through stop signs and turn in either direction without stopping, when is it safe to do so. Hurray. This is what most cyclists do anyway, and Idaho has had a similar law for more than thirty years. Studies have found it actually increases cyclist safety by limiting the time they spend in intersections. How is “safe” defined? Here are the rules: (a) Ride at a safe speed; (b) Yield to pedestrians; and (c) Yield to traffic already in the intersection or approaching “so close as to constitute an immediate hazard.”

The law is expected to be signed by the governor, and will be effective immediately.

Bottom line: Drivers, give bicyclists plenty of room, and bicyclists, you will soon have permission go ahead and roll (cautiously) through stop signs.


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