New bill clarifies right-of-way for bikes

The Oregon State House and Senate recently passed HB 2682, a bill that clarifies a bicyclist’s right-of-way when riding in a continuous bike lane through an intersection. The very concise bill states, “Where the markings of a bicycle lane are interrupted by an intersection, the bicycle lane continues in and through the intersection.” This is true of any lane of travel that passes through an intersection, but two cases in which traffic court judges excused drivers for hitting bicyclists while in intersections prompted the clarifying bill.

A bike lane usually creates a basic sense of safety while riding on city streets, and I very much appreciate the long stretch of bike lane that rolls along a busy street on my route to work. But this February, as I rode into a busy intersection along my usual morning commute, the auto driver beside me turned right without signaling or checking their side-view mirror. The vehicle suddenly came too close for comfort and then collided with me and my bike. I “flew” off my bike and onto the curb to my right. Although shaken, I felt very grateful to walk away from the collision with just a minor shoulder separation – no impact to my head, no broken bones, and no damage to my bike. I was also very lucky that the driver felt genuinely concerned for my well-being and took full responsibility for the accident. Hundreds of other bicyclists have collided with cars in this same way, with far worse outcomes.

It’s easy to feel anxious and cynical about biking on city streets, but I still love the fresh air, the exercise, and the way it connects me to my surroundings. I was glad to learn of HB 2682’s success so soon after my accident, and I feel encouraged by my community’s efforts to ensure safer, more enjoyable routes for everyone. If you’re interested in advocating for improving public infrastructure to better serve pedestrians and bicyclists in your community, check out this great resource: Rethinking Streets & Rethinking Strees for Bikes. Like biking and walking, it’s free!