Category Archives: Sidewalks

Marked and Unmarked Crosswalks in Oregon: Our Take on ORS 801.220

On January 4th, 2019—less than a week ago—a pedestrian here in Portland was killed by a motor vehicle while crossing the street at the intersection of SW Salmon and Park. This intersection only features one marked crosswalk. According to the statement released by police, the pedestrian was in an “unmarked crosswalk” when he was hit.

While we fully support proposed measures to make intersections like these safer for pedestrians, including incorporating additional marked crosswalks, we also think it is important for everyone—pedestrians, bicyclists, drivers, law enforcement and legislators—to think further about the implications of the existing laws that define and identify crosswalks, particularly ORS 801.220. There seems to be some confusion about whether the existence of marked crosswalks at an intersection negates or removes any crosswalks that aren’t marked at that intersection—but we don’t believe that is the case.

The view we have always taken of ORS 801.220 is that it does not “take away a crosswalk at another corner” but instead that a marked crosswalk location denotes the crosswalk for that particular crossing. Consequently, at the four corner intersection of SW Salmon and Park, there are four crosswalks. Unless there is signage, like at the west end of the Morrison Bridge on the east crosswalk over the foot of Washington Street that says “No Pedestrian Crossing” or something like that, ORS 801.220 is not a crosswalk “trimming” or elimination statute. Note that the actual language of ORS 801.220 states: “Whenever marked crosswalks have been indicated, such crosswalks and no others shall be deemed lawful across such roadway at that intersection.”

It is important to note the plural use of the word “crosswalks” not “crosswalk”. That is intentional. It is also important to note that where such “crosswalks” exist “no others” shall be deemed lawful. Clearly this indicates that marked crosswalks denote the crosswalk where such markings exist—but where no such markings exist then unmarked crosswalks still exist for the other 3 unmarked crossings on a four corner intersection. See how ORS 801.220 defines an unmarked crosswalk (the parameters for which, by the way, are very expansive, 6′ to 20′ wide!) here.

Further, “such roadway” “at that intersection” is a different part of roadway from the crosswalk where the collision occurred, separated by my guess of about 20′ or so. I am not saying PBOT could not close that unmarked crosswalk (the Oregon Vehicle Code provides cities the legal authority to do so), but in my view it would require signage, and would be a bad idea.

You can find several aerial pictures of the intersection, along with information about future pedestrian-safety changes planned for SW Salmon, in this detailed article on the subject of this preventable tragedy by Jonathan Maus of Bike Portland.

Cynthia Newton’s Back to School Road Safety Tips

TCNF Partner Cynthia Newton spoke with KATU traffic reporter Hannah Olsen about getting your kids to school safely by bike. In this clip, aired in Portland on August 27th, 2018, Cynthia explains her five rules for safe bike travel to school.

1. Find a good route from where you live to your school. That way you can follow the same route every day. No fuss. No rush.

2. You can ride on the sidewalk everywhere in PDX except downtown. Remember to slow to a walking speed when crossing driveways and entering crosswalks so cars have more time to see you.

3. When crossing the street, always use a crosswalk. There is a crosswalk at every corner, even if there is no paint on the roadway. Enter at walking speed so cars have more time to see you.

4. Kids under 16 are required to wear a helmet. Kids are more likely to wear a helmet if their parent does.

5. Wear white and use a light. Lights—a white one in front and a red one in rear—are required in limited visibility conditions, but wearing white or using a light anytime makes you more visible. Drivers don’t hit cyclists they can see.

KATU’s article about this conversation with Cynthia, including some additional advice from TCNF attorney Chris Thomas, can be found here.

We’re fans of BIKETOWN, but its Rules of the Road need work – Chris Thomas

BIKETOWN, Portland’s bike sharing system, is a great resource for getting more people on bikes. The system’s efforts to encourage more riding include educating users about how to ride properly and without violating Oregon law. However, some of BIKETOWN’s advice incorrectly describes Oregon law and has the potential to mislead bicyclists who are learning the ropes.

SIDEWALKS

Printed on each BIKETOWN bike is a list of riding tips, which includes “WALK BIKES ON SIDEWALK”:

A list of rules printed on all BIKETOWN bikes: Yield for people walking, obey traffic lights and laws, walk bikes on sidewalk, don't bike on rail tracks, have fun! But these rules don't accurately represent Oregon bike law.

The BIKETOWN website contains a section entitled Rules of the Road, which advises bicyclists “AVOID SIDEWALKS” and “. . . whenever possible, it’s best to ride on the road and leave the sidewalk for pedestrian traffic.”

BIKETOWN website text telling users to "avoid sidewalks," which doesn't accurately represent Oregon bike law

In fact, Oregon law generally allows bicyclists to ride on the sidewalk, provided they comply with the requirements of ORS 814.410, including obligations to yield to pedestrians, audibly warn before passing, and enter crosswalks at a walking speed. Many local jurisdictions impose prohibitions on riding in downtown core areas, including Portland, where bicyclists generally may not ride on the sidewalk between Naito Parkway, 13th Avenue, SW Jefferson and NW Hoyt. Portland City Code 16.70.320. Although BIKETOWN’s warnings about sidewalk riding may apply in Portland’s downtown core, that area constitutes a small fraction of the system’s service area, which includes many high speed thoroughfares without bike lanes, such as NE Sandy, SE Powell and NE Martin Luther King. In those places, a bicyclist may feel safer riding on the sidewalk than in the roadway, and they would be legally entitled to do so.

HEADPHONES

The Rules of the Road section of the BIKETOWN website also states: “It is also illegal to ride with two headphones in; one is permitted, but it’s always safer to ride without any.”

BIKETOWN's website's description of rules relating to headphones, which doesn't accurately represent Oregon bike law

This is a clear misstatement of Oregon law. Without wading into the prudence of riding with headphones, no section of the Oregon vehicle code explicitly prohibits such use (in one ear or both). California law does include such a prohibition, which likely caused the confusion here, but given that BIKETOWN exclusively operates in Oregon, this is an incorrect statement of the law.

We think it is important to clearly state which parts of BIKETOWN’s advice is based on Oregon law, and which parts are put forth as safe riding “tips.”

In the meantime, check out TCNF’s pocket sized cards that summarize Oregon bike law, which can be found here and at local bike shops.

Protecting Sidewalks and Bike Lanes from Construction – Ray Thomas

The other day I was driving along Tualatin Valley highway during afternoon rush hour. Both lanes in each direction were filled with cars. As I drove through an area where construction was occurring I saw that the crew had stopped work for the day and left a furled up construction sign on a tripod stand right in the middle of the bike lane. Whoever did it was not thinking about a commuter bicycle rider coming along and having to leave the bike lane and go into heavy traffic to avoid the sign. This sort of thing is all too frequent and is dangerous for everyone, but so are the wider effects of construction sites. Whole neighborhoods can feel the impact of construction on a single street-corner.

Construction equipment passing a damaged concrete sidewalk. Sidewalks and bike lanes are closed for construction without enough thought to the impact these closures have on non-motorized road users in Oregon.

All too often bike lanes, multi-use paths and sidewalks are closed to the public far longer than is necessary. The danger to the public increases as pedestrians and bicycle riders scramble to reconfigure themselves into the available spaces to get around the construction zone. This scramble creates deaths and injuries that are foreseeable and avoidable.

The easy fix for these hazards to citizens is to employ good traffic control practices. Most construction sites on roadways have requirements for Traffic Control Plans (TCP).  These TCPs must be filed as part of the construction permit process where the public way will be impacted by construction. All too often “traffic control” means setting up a system merely to divert motorized traffic around the construction site. Often this means closing adjacent sidewalks and bike lanes. It is important to protect the public from arbitrary and unnecessary closures of the public way including that of sidewalks and bike lanes by complaining to public officials when dangerous closures occur.  And, as in the example provided above, it is imperative for safety that construction companies train workers to remove closures from the public way as early as possible to restore the natural traffic flow and right of way.

Collecting photographs of examples of unnecessarily dangerous public way closures can help raise awareness of these issues and encourage communities to reprioritize and to recognize the importance of non-motorized traffic. In 2016, local advocacy groups The Street Trust and Oregon Walks placed direct pressure on Portland city officials by creating the hashtag #WorkZoneWTF as a way to collect the most glaring examples of closures of the public way on social media. The many examples that flooded in created a graphic collection of the unnecessary hazards created by failing to recognize the rights of non-motorized road users.

After this effort, Portland implemented a city-wide construction traffic policy change in July 2016. The City Council voted 5-0 to adopt a new resolution changing the permitting of TCPs so as to preserve the public way for vulnerable users: “We wanted to make sure the last resort was to close the sidewalk and to close the bike lane,” said Faith Winegarden, the Portland Bureau of Transportation (PBOT) permitting manager. “We want to make sure every option has been explored.” Bike Portland published an article on the policy change which can be found here.

Portland has continued to make good progress in this regard, but the state of Oregon has fallen behind. As part of a biennial Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT) Work Zone Safety Audit for 2017, ODOT’s reviewers gave some of the lowest scores to bicycle, pedestrian and ADA accommodations like continuous routes through construction zones, signage marking these routes, and ADA compliance. According to ODOT, these low scores mean that these areas “[need] additional attention,” which led them to update their 2018 advisory materials on standard site specifications and TCP design. And there’s more work to be done. ODOT’s plans for 2018 do consider non-motorized road use in urban environments, but more attention should be paid to the needs of non-motorized road users in rural areas. Pedestrian and cyclist traffic still isn’t being afforded the same attention and protection as motorized road use at the state level.

Here are a few of the measures Portland has adopted to limit the effect of construction sites upon pedestrians and cyclists:

  • Blocking a sidewalk, bike lane, or other public use path has to be regarded with the same importance as closing a lane of motor vehicle traffic
  • When sidewalks and bike lanes are blocked due to maintenance or construction, accommodations must be provided to the maximum extent feasible.

These measures might seem like common-sense, and they might seem like the minimum we ought to expect from city policy, but these protections are by no means guaranteed outside of Portland. I hope ODOT will follow PBOT’s lead and implement similar protections statewide.

Is a bicyclist allowed to ride on the sidewalk when there is a bicycle lane on the same street?

Yes, in Oregon, a person can ride a bicycle on a sidewalk even if the street they are riding along has a bicycle lane.

Oregon is a mandatory sidepath law state, which means that the law requires a bicycle operator to use a bicycle lane if one is present instead of riding in the mixed traffic lane.  ORS 814.420 Failure to use bicycle lane or path prohibits a person from “operat[ing] a bicycle on any portion of a roadway that is not a bicycle lane or bicycle path when a bicycle lane or bicycle path is adjacent to or near the roadway.”

However, the law only restricts bicycle operators from operating on the roadway when there is a bicycle lane and the sidewalk, while part of the highway, is not part of the roadway.  The roadway is “the portion of a highway that is improved, designed or ordinarily used for vehicular travel, exclusive of the shoulder.”

Charley Gee is an attorney at Thomas, Coon, Newton & Frost where he represents injured bicyclists and pedestrians.

Do bicyclists have to walk their bikes in crosswalks? by Charley Gee

I encounter this question a lot in the bicycle law clinics I teach.

The short answer is: No.  There is no statewide legal requirement to walk a bicycle in a crosswalk.

There are, however, a couple of laws to keep in mind when riding up to or in a crosswalk.

First, when a bicyclist in Oregon is riding on a sidewalk and is approaching or entering a crosswalk (and also a driveway, a curb cut, or a pedestrian ramp) and a motor vehicle is approaching, the bicyclist must slow to the speed of an “ordinary walk” while approaching and entering. ORS 814.410(1)(d) Unsafe operation of bicycle on sidewalk.

Second, a bicyclist is entitled to the same rights and responsibilities as a pedestrian while in a crosswalk.  ORS 814.410(2).  What this means is that the requirement that a motor vehicle stop at a crosswalk when a pedestrian is crossing the roadway also applies to bicyclists.  ORS 811.028 Failure to stop and remain stopped for pedestrian.  Oregon law even requires cars to stop when any part of a person’s bicycle moves onto the roadway in a crosswalk with the intent to proceed across.  ORS 811.028(4).  A bicyclist can’t leave the sidewalk into the path of a car, though, if the car is so close it constitutes an immediate hazard (like it wouldn’t be able to stop safely), even if the bicyclist is entering a crosswalk.  ORS 814.410(1)(a).

Third, a bicyclist must always keep in mind that while riding on the sidewalk and in crosswalks is legal under state law, cities have the right to make it illegal under their city ordinances, so it is important to know the laws of the cities you ride in.

Charley Gee is a bicycle attorney in Portland, Oregon.  He practices at Swanson, Thomas, Coon & Newton where he represents bicycle riders and pedestrians in personal injury cases.

What are Oregon’s Bicycle Parking Laws? by Charley Gee

A bicycle parked blocking access to newspaper boxes, in violation of Portland city Code 16.70.320(A).

Oregon’s state statutes do not contain any laws that dictate how a person is supposed to park a bicycle. This has resulted in many cities and towns of Oregon drafting their own bicycle parking ordinances. In some of those cities a violation of the ordinance can result in an illegally parked bicycle being impounded . Below I have included the bicycle parking ordinances for the 13 largest cities in Oregon.

Portland

Portland City Code 16.70.320 Operating Rules

No person may:

A. Leave a bicycle so that it obstructs vehicle or pedestrian traffic on a roadway, sidewalk, driveway, handicap access ramp, building entrance, or so that it prevents operation of a parking meter or newspaper rack;

B. Leave a bicycle secured to a fire hydrant or to a police or fire call box;

C. Leave a bicycle on private property without consent of the owner or legal tenant. Consent is implied on private commercial property;

D. Leave a bicycle on a street or other public property for more than 72 hours[.]

Salem

Salem City Code 101.150 Parking of Bicycles

It shall be unlawful for any person to leave a bicycle upon any sidewalk, except in a bicycle rack. If no rack is provided, he shall leave the bicycle so as not to obstruct any roadway, sidewalk, driveway, or building entrance; nor shall any person leave a bicycle on public or private property without consent of the person in charge or the owner thereof.

Eugene

Eugene City Code 5.400 Operating Rules

. . .

(2) No person may park a bicycle in or near a public thoroughfare or place in such a manner as to obstruct traffic or endanger persons or property.

Eugene City Code 5.420 Impounding of Bicycles

(1) A bicycle left on public property for a period in excess of 24 hours may be impounded by the police department.

(2) In addition to any citation issued, a bicycle parked in violation of this chapter may be immediately impounded.

(3) If a bicycle impounded under this chapter bears an Oregon driver’s license number, or other means of determining its ownership exist, the police shall make reasonable efforts to notify the owner.

(4) A bicycle impounded under this chapter which remains unclaimed shall be disposed of in accordance with the city’s procedures for disposal of abandoned or lost personal property.

Gresham

Gresham Revised Code 8.70.040 Misuse of a Bicycle or NonMotorized Vehicle.

No person shall leave a bicycle or non-motorized vehicle:

(1) in a manner which obstructs a street. sidewalk, driveway or building entrance;

(2) on private property without the consent of the person in charge or the owner of the property;

(3) on public property for a period in excess of 18 hours; or

(4) in a public parking lot in a vehicle parking space. A bicycle may only be parked in a public parking lot where special provision has been made for bicycles, in the stand, rack, or other bicycle holder

Gresham Revised Code 8.70.050 Impoundment.

(1) A bicycle or non-motorized vehicle in violation of GRC Article 8.70 may be immediately impounded by the police department.

(2) If a bicycle or non-motorized vehicle impounded under this section is licensed, or other means of determining its ownership exist, the police shall make a reasonable effort to notify the owner.

(3) A bicycle or non-motorized vehicle impounded under this section that remains unclaimed for a period of more than 60 days may be disposed of in accordance with GRC Article 2.81, the city’s procedures for disposal of abandoned or lost personal property.

(4) A bicycle or non-motorized vehicle impounded under this section may be held until the person using the device at the time of the impound is acquitted or provides proof that
security deposit or the fine upon conviction has been paid, unless otherwise ordered by the
Circuit Court or other court of competent jurisdiction.

Hillsboro

Hillsboro Municipal Code 8.28.100 Bicycle parking

A. It is unlawful to park or leave a bicycle upon the sidewalk, except in areas designated under HMC 8.28.100(B).

B. Designated areas for the parking of bicycles and only bicycles are as follows:

1. At the curb on the street and sidewalk, beginning at the intersection of the north boundary of Main Street and the west boundary of N 3rd Street, thence north 20 feet;

2. At the curb on the sidewalk beginning at the point on the north side of E Lincoln Street that is 55 feet east from the easterly boundary of N 2nd Avenue, thence east 20 feet; and

3. During the months the municipal swimming pool is in operation and while bicycle racks are maintained in the street for parking bicycles:

a. On the street on the easterly side of S 9th Avenue beginning at a point 10 feet south of the south boundary of E Cedar Street, thence south 35 feet; and

b. On the street on the southerly side of E Cedar Street, beginning at a point 15 feet east of the east boundary of S 9th Avenue, thence east 45 feet.

C. The manager will cause the appropriate number of bicycle racks to be erected, kept and maintained, each with the proper marking by signs or painting, upon each of the areas under HMC 8.28.100(B).

Beaverton

Beaverton City Code 6.02.430 Impounding of Bicycles.

A. It shall be unlawful to leave a bicycle on public or private property without the consent of the person in charge or the owner thereof.

B. A bicycle left on public property for a period in excess of 72 hours may be impounded by the police department.

C. If a bicycle impounded under this section bears an Oregon driver’s license number or is licensed by this City or another City or other means of determining its ownership exists, the police shall make reasonable efforts to notify the owner.

D. An impoundment fee set by Council resolution shall be charged to the owner of a bicycle impounded under this section except where the bicycle was stolen.

E. A bicycle impounded under this chapter which remains unclaimed for 60 days, shall be disposed of in accordance with BC 2.05.010 through 2.05.026.

Bend

Bend City Code 6.35.000 Bicycle Operating Rules.

Except for bicycles operated by on duty law enforcement personnel:

A. Bicycles shall be parked so they do not obstruct a roadway, sidewalk, driveway or building entrance.
. . .

Bend City Code 6.35.005 Impounding Bicycles.

A. A bicycle left on public property for more than 24 hours may be impounded by the Police Department.

B. If a bicycle impounded under this code is registered, or other means of determining its ownership exist, the police shall make a reasonable effort to notify the owner. No impounding fee shall be charged to the owner of a stolen bike.

C. A bicycle impounded under this code and remaining unclaimed shall be disposed of in accordance with City procedures for disposal of abandoned or lost personal property.

D. Except as provided in subsection (B) of this section, a fee established in the City’s Fee Resolution shall be charged to the owner of a bicycle impounded under this section.

Medford

None

Springfield

None

Corvallis

Corvallis City Code 6.10.060.150

No person shall park a bicycle upon a street or upon a sidewalk except in a rack to support the bicycle or against a building or at the curb, in such a manner as to afford the least obstruction to pedestrian traffic.

Albany

Albany City Code 13.40.150 Parking

No person shall park a bicycle upon a street or upon a sidewalk except in a rack to support the bicycle or against a building or at the curb, in such a manner as to afford the least obstruction to pedestrian traffic.

Tigard

Tigard Municipal Code 10.36.180 Parking Restrictions

From and after December 18, 1967, it is unlawful for any person to park or leave a bicycle upon the sidewalk within the City; except in areas designated by ordinance, which areas shall be properly marked by signs or painting and provided with racks for parking bicycles.

Lake Oswego

Lake Oswego Code 32.10.810 Requirements for Operation of Bicycles Generally.

. . .

7. Obstructing Traffic – No operator of a bicycle shall leave his bicycle lying or standing in such a manner that shall hinder or impede pedestrian or vehicular traffic upon the sidewalks or paths or upon the highways or alleys or public ways within the City, but shall take proper care to see that his bicycle is so placed as to avoid annoyance and danger of accident during his absence from it.

8. Use of Designated Bicycle Stands – The City may designate such place or places within commercial zones exclusively for parking of bicycles and no person shall stand, park or leave any bicycle on the highway or alley or sidewalk within 200 feet of any such place designated exclusively for bicycle parking by the City.

Lake Oswego Code 32.10.815 Impounding Bicycles.

1. No person shall leave a bicycle on private property without the consent of the owner or person in charge. Consent is implied on private business property unless bicycle parking is expressly prohibited.

2. Unless bicycle parking is expressly prohibited on public property, a person shall leave a bicycle in a bicycle rack, if provided, or in accordance with section LOC 32.10.810(8).

3. A bicycle left on a highway or other public property for more than 24 hours may be impounded by the police department.

4. In addition to any citation issued, a bicycle parked in violation of this chapter that obstructs or impedes the free flow of pedestrian or vehicular traffic or otherwise endangers the public may be immediately impounded by a law enforcement officer.

5. If a bicycle impounded under this chapter is licensed, or other means of identifying its ownership exist, the police shall make reasonable efforts to notify the owner.

6. A bicycle impounded under this section that remains unclaimed after 30 days shall be disposed of in accordance with LOC 14.04.120.

7. Impoundment under this section shall be done in accordance with the provisions of LOC 14.04.110, et seq.

Charley Gee is a Portland, Oregon, bicycle and pedestrian attorney with Swanson, Thomas, Coon & Newton.

Are Segways Allowed on Sidewalks? by Charley Gee

One of the more unique sights in Downtown Portland are the Segway tour groups, of which there is not one but two different outfits: Portland by Segway and Portland Segway Nation Tours. There are also individuals who use the devices for transportation and recreation.

Segway

A Segway is not called a Segway in the law. It is called an Electric Personal Assistive Mobility Device and this covers not only the name brand Segway but also the other types of devices made by Honda and others. I will use EPAMD as short hand. To be considered an EPAMD, a device must be self balancing with two non-tandem (i.e. no front and rear wheel) wheels, designed to only transport one person in a standing position, have an electric drive, and a maximum speed of 15 MPH.

EPAMDs are vehicles under Oregon law. They are not, however, motor vehicles and this is specifically noted in the law. This is an important distinction when reading the Oregon Vehicle Code to determine which laws apply to EPAMD operators.  Even though EPAMDs are not motor vehicles, Oregon requires operators to be 16 years old or older.  An operator does not need a valid driver’s license, though.

EPAMDs, depending on where they are operated, fall under either bicycle laws or pedestrian laws, as well as a set of requirements specific to them.

If a person is operating an EPAMD on a sidewalk they are subject to the same laws as a pedestrian, but also have the same rights, like crossing at a crosswalk. However, like bicycles on sidewalks, their operators are subject to additional responsibilities beyond those of pedestrians:

• An EPAMD operator cannot operate on a sidewalk in a careless manner that endangers or would likely to endanger any person or property (remember that this includes the operator).
• When an EPAMD in operating on the sidewalk and approaching and entering a crosswalk, driveway, curb-cut, or a pedestrian ramp an operator of a EPAMD must slow to the speed of an ordinary walk.
• When passing pedestrians on a sidewalk an EPAMD operator must give an audible signal.
• An EPAMD must yield the right of way to all pedestrians on the sidewalk.

One misunderstanding of the law that I hear quite often in Portland is that the EPAMDs are not allowed to operate on sidewalks in the downtown core. This is not correct. Bicycles, scooters, and skateboards are prohibited from the sidewalks in Downtown Portland but EPAMDs are not addressed in the city code. The state does allow cities to prohibit them, but Portland has not taken the step to do so.

EPAMDs do not have all of the same rights as bicyclists when operating on the road. The biggest difference is that an EPAMD is not allowed to operate on a road with a speed limit above 35 MPH unless there is a bicycle lane (or they are crossing the road). EPAMDs are allowed to be operated in the bicycle lane, on bicycle paths, and on roads with posted speeds under 35 MPH. In such circumstances EPAMD operators are subject to the same rights and responsibilities as bicycle operators, including having the right-of-way in the bicycle lane.

EPAMDs also have specific requirements and restrictions:

• An EPAMD cannot carry more than one person.
• An EPAMD must have lighting in limited visibility conditions, including a white front light visible from 500 feet and a rear red reflector or light visible from 600 feet.
• A person cannot install a siren or whistle on an EPAMD.

Since EPAMD operators are subject to the same laws as bicycle operators when in bicycle lanes, that covers the helmet law, which requires operators under the age of 16 to wear a helmet.  However, this is moot since operators must be 16 or older to legally operate an EPAMD.

Charley Gee is an attorney in Portland, Oregon, where he represents injured bicyclists and pedestrians.