Category Archives: Bicycle Law

What should I do when facing a red light in a bicycle lane at a T-intersection? by Charley Gee

One of the benefits of being a bicycle rider in Oregon is that we are granted the same rights as motor vehicle operators under the law. That granting of privilege, however, is a two-edged sword because we are also limited to the same restrictions and responsibilities of motor vehicle operators under the law (except for those laws that have no application to bicycles).

This restriction can sometimes result in inefficiencies. For example, when a rider is in a bicycle lane and they face a red light they are required to stop behind the stop line even though, if there are no pedestrians crossing, they face no conflicting traffic. For example, here is the intersection of SW Salmon Street and Naito Parkway in downtown Portland, facing north.

Naito and Salmon

Here, a bicyclist faces no possibility of conflicting traffic if they proceeded through the intersection against a red light.

So, can a bicyclist legally proceed through the intersection while facing a red light? No. A driver, no matter their mode of travel, must stop at the clearly marked stop line when faced with a red light. ORS 811.260(7).

Sometimes, though, a bicycle rider will move from the bike lane to the sidewalk and back to the bike lane again after riding on the sidewalk through the T-intersection, as illustrated here:

Bicyclists will sometimes go from the bike lane to the sidewalk to get around red lights.

Bicyclists will sometimes go from the bike lane to the sidewalk to get around red lights.

This maneuver is legal, so far as 1.) the bicyclist is allowed to ride on the sidewalk in the area; 2.) the bicyclist does not operate in a careless manner and slows to the speed of an ordinary walk when entering the curbcut (ORS 814.410) AND 3.) the bicyclist first stops behind the stop line as required by ORS 811.260(7).

Charley Gee is a bicycle and pedestrian lawyer and advocate with Swanson, Thomas, Coon & Newton.


A New Project

Welcome to, a public service project of Thomas, Coon, Newton & Frost. We have launched this web page in an effort to improve the understanding of how the laws contained in Oregon’s Vehicle Code (and elsewhere) establish the rights and responsibilities of all of Oregon’s road users.  We will be examining specific locations and their legal quirks, answering questions, and publishing informative analysis of certain laws.

This project follows in the tradition of the many years of bicycle and pedestrian legal clinics we have presented in conjunction with many community groups, businesses, municipalities, and schools, as well as our articles, publications and Ray Thomas’ books Pedal Power and Oregon Pedestrian Rights.

Our authors will include three lawyers at Thomas, Coon, Newton & Frost: Partners Ray Thomas, Jim Coon, and Cynthia Newton as well as Associate Chris Thomas.

We also hope to provide insights and commentary from other authors in the community.

If you have any questions about Oregon bicycle law or Oregon pedestrian law please email Cynthia at

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