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Get Legal with Ray Thomas: Passing on the right from a rider’s perspective

Get Legal with Ray Thomas: Passing on the right from a rider’s perspective

A ride with the family-3

Knowing how to legally pass on the
right can help you get to your destination
faster and help you breathe easier.
(Photo by J. Maus/BikePortland)

Today’s article will try to clear up confusion about how and when you are legally permitted to pass another vehicle operator on the right side of the roadway.

While Oregon law did not specifically authorize passing on the right before 2006, the law was clarified that year to follow the great majority of other states (and the Uniform Vehicle Code) in specifically allowing bicycle riders to pass other vehicles on the right when it can be done safely.

Bicycle riders complained for many years about the pre-2006 Oregon law that appeared to prohibit passing on the right when road users were sharing the same lane. In 2005, the Oregon legislature (thanks to lobbying by the Bicycle Transportation Alliance) voted to change the law so that passing on the right would be allowed “if the overtaking vehicle is a bicycle that may safely make the passage under the existing conditions” (ORS 811.415). The “new” law went into effect in January of 2006.

Here are the main points of the law that didn’t change in 2006:

  • You are permitted to pass on the right when a vehicle is in the same lane and turning left, so long as you (the passer) do not go off of the paved roadway in order to get around them.
  • Passing on the right in a bicycle lane (which is a separate lane from the regular traffic lane) is also allowed; but, as with all maneuvers, it must be done with “due care.”
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  • A bicycle rider may also leave the bicycle lane to pass “if the person is able to safely move out… for the purpose of passing another bicycle, a vehicle or a pedestrian” and “passage cannot safely be made in the lane” (as per ORS 814.420(3)(a)).
  • While riding your bicycle you are entitled to pass other vehicles (just like drivers do) even when a bicycle lane is not present. (Note that ORS 811.410 prohibits the overtaken vehicle from speeding up until they are completely passed.)

Here’s a closer look at the 2006 law:

Unsafe Passing on the Right.
SECTION 1.
811.415. (1) A person commits the offense of unsafe passing on the right if the person:
(a) Drives a vehicle to overtake and pass upon the right of another vehicle at any time not permitted under this section.
(b) Drives a vehicle to overtake and pass upon the right of another vehicle at any time by driving off the paved portion of the highway.

(2) For purposes of this section, a person may drive a vehicle to overtake and pass upon the right of another vehicle under any of the following circumstances:
(a) Overtaking and passing upon the right is permitted if:
(A) The overtaken vehicle is making or the driver has signaled an intention to make a left turn;
(B) The paved portion of the highway is of sufficient width to allow two or more lanes of vehicles
to proceed lawfully in the same direction as the overtaking vehicle; and
(C) The roadway ahead of the overtaking vehicle is unobstructed for a sufficient distance to permit passage by the overtaking vehicle to be made in safety.
(b) Overtaking and passing upon the right is permitted if the overtaken vehicle is proceeding along a roadway in the left lane of two or more clearly marked lanes allocated exclusively to vehicular traffic moving in the same direction as the overtaking driver.
(c) Overtaking and passing upon the right is permitted if the overtaking vehicle is a bicycle
that may safely make the passage under the existing conditions.

(3) The offense described in this section, unsafe passing on the right, is a Class B traffic violation.

In application, the 2006 law allows safe passing on the right which helps to make the flow of traffic smoother, and keeps bicycle riders from being stuck behind a line of exhaust-spewing motor vehicles.

Oregon law allowing bicycles to pass on the right is not unusual. The nationally recognized Uniform Vehicle Code Section 11-304(b) states that: “The driver of a vehicle may overtake and pass another vehicle upon the right only under conditions permitting such movement in safety.” With the changes in 2006, Oregon merely joined the great majority of other states that allowed the maneuver.

While it is possible to describe ways that passing on the right can be performed in an unsafe manner, the purpose of the law is to allow bicycle riders to move safely with and through traffic. A bicycle’s narrow footprint (relative to a car) allows the rider to fully utilize the standard width traffic lane and improve the roadway’s capacity to move traffic.

Thankfully, the law supports this common sense maneuver — but a law does no good if you don’t understand it and put it into action.

Browse our Get Legal with Ray Thomas story archives to learn more about Oregon bike law.

Disclaimer: This article is part of a paid promotional partnership between BikePortland.org and Swanson, Thomas, Coon & Newton.

The post Get Legal with Ray Thomas: Passing on the right from a rider’s perspective appeared first on BikePortland.org.

Get Legal with Ray Thomas: Passing on the right from a rider’s perspective

Get Legal with Ray Thomas: Passing on the right from a rider’s perspective

A ride with the family-3

Knowing how to legally pass on the
right can help you get to your destination
faster and help you breathe easier.
(Photo by J. Maus/BikePortland)

Today’s article will try to clear up confusion about how and when you are legally permitted to pass another vehicle operator on the right side of the roadway.

While Oregon law did not specifically authorize passing on the right before 2006, the law was clarified that year to follow the great majority of other states (and the Uniform Vehicle Code) in specifically allowing bicycle riders to pass other vehicles on the right when it can be done safely.

Bicycle riders complained for many years about the pre-2006 Oregon law that appeared to prohibit passing on the right when road users were sharing the same lane. In 2005, the Oregon legislature (thanks to lobbying by the Bicycle Transportation Alliance) voted to change the law so that passing on the right would be allowed “if the overtaking vehicle is a bicycle that may safely make the passage under the existing conditions” (ORS 811.415). The “new” law went into effect in January of 2006.

Here are the main points of the law that didn’t change in 2006:

  • You are permitted to pass on the right when a vehicle is in the same lane and turning left, so long as you (the passer) do not go off of the paved roadway in order to get around them.
  • Passing on the right in a bicycle lane (which is a separate lane from the regular traffic lane) is also allowed; but, as with all maneuvers, it must be done with “due care.”
We rely on financial support from readers like you.

  • A bicycle rider may also leave the bicycle lane to pass “if the person is able to safely move out… for the purpose of passing another bicycle, a vehicle or a pedestrian” and “passage cannot safely be made in the lane” (as per ORS 814.420(3)(a)).
  • While riding your bicycle you are entitled to pass other vehicles (just like drivers do) even when a bicycle lane is not present. (Note that ORS 811.410 prohibits the overtaken vehicle from speeding up until they are completely passed.)

Here’s a closer look at the 2006 law:

Unsafe Passing on the Right.
SECTION 1.
811.415. (1) A person commits the offense of unsafe passing on the right if the person:
(a) Drives a vehicle to overtake and pass upon the right of another vehicle at any time not permitted under this section.
(b) Drives a vehicle to overtake and pass upon the right of another vehicle at any time by driving off the paved portion of the highway.

(2) For purposes of this section, a person may drive a vehicle to overtake and pass upon the right of another vehicle under any of the following circumstances:
(a) Overtaking and passing upon the right is permitted if:
(A) The overtaken vehicle is making or the driver has signaled an intention to make a left turn;
(B) The paved portion of the highway is of sufficient width to allow two or more lanes of vehicles
to proceed lawfully in the same direction as the overtaking vehicle; and
(C) The roadway ahead of the overtaking vehicle is unobstructed for a sufficient distance to permit passage by the overtaking vehicle to be made in safety.
(b) Overtaking and passing upon the right is permitted if the overtaken vehicle is proceeding along a roadway in the left lane of two or more clearly marked lanes allocated exclusively to vehicular traffic moving in the same direction as the overtaking driver.
(c) Overtaking and passing upon the right is permitted if the overtaking vehicle is a bicycle
that may safely make the passage under the existing conditions.

(3) The offense described in this section, unsafe passing on the right, is a Class B traffic violation.

In application, the 2006 law allows safe passing on the right which helps to make the flow of traffic smoother, and keeps bicycle riders from being stuck behind a line of exhaust-spewing motor vehicles.

Oregon law allowing bicycles to pass on the right is not unusual. The nationally recognized Uniform Vehicle Code Section 11-304(b) states that: “The driver of a vehicle may overtake and pass another vehicle upon the right only under conditions permitting such movement in safety.” With the changes in 2006, Oregon merely joined the great majority of other states that allowed the maneuver.

While it is possible to describe ways that passing on the right can be performed in an unsafe manner, the purpose of the law is to allow bicycle riders to move safely with and through traffic. A bicycle’s narrow footprint (relative to a car) allows the rider to fully utilize the standard width traffic lane and improve the roadway’s capacity to move traffic.

Thankfully, the law supports this common sense maneuver — but a law does no good if you don’t understand it and put it into action.

Browse our Get Legal with Ray Thomas story archives to learn more about Oregon bike law.

Disclaimer: This article is part of a paid promotional partnership between BikePortland.org and Swanson, Thomas, Coon & Newton.

The post Get Legal with Ray Thomas: Passing on the right from a rider’s perspective appeared first on BikePortland.org.

Get Legal with Ray Thomas: What you need to know about hit and run

Get Legal with Ray Thomas: What you need to know about hit and run

Gresham-Fairview Trail gap at Burnside

(Photo by J. Maus/BikePortland)

Hit and runs are far too common in Oregon. Unfortunately, so is the feeling of helplessness about what to do about them. In the spirit that knowledge equals power, I’ve put together a primer on the laws surrounding hit and runs and what do to if you are ever involved in one.

Here’s the sad but true fact: If a vehicle operator* can escape a collision scene then the chances are they will get away without having to pay for the damage they caused and they can also avoid things like: arrest on an outstanding warrant; a DUI charge for driving/riding while impaired; a possible police search of the vehicle for drugs or contraband on board; a car with no insurance, or not having a drivers’ license.

If the perpetrator is ever caught (and they usually are), here’s what the law says about their crime.

Oregon Revised Statute (ORS) 811.700 makes it a Class A misdemeanor not to stop and remain at the scene of any collision where any property is damaged in order to exchange registration information and the name and address of the driver and any vehicle occupants, and upon request to show the driver license. Further, ORS 806.011 requires that proof of insurance coverage be carried in every motor vehicle.

We know this is a maddening crime and it’s even worse if it happens to you; but if you just give up before starting, there’s is no chance the person will ever get caught and held accountable.

If someone is hurt then ORS 811.705 makes “Failure to Perform Duties of Driver to Injured Persons” into a Class B or C felony. Included in the legal requirement where someone is hurt is the obligation to give “reasonable assistance” including transport for medical treatment.

The duties at the scene of a collision even extend to witnesses. ORS 811.715 requires that witnesses to an injury collision furnish their name and address to occupants or drivers of involved vehicles and makes it a Class C violation (non-criminal) to fail to do so.

What if it happens to you?

If you are the victim of hit and run call 911. If possible have witnesses give you all information about the fleeing party and retain their contact information. It is important that you go through the process because if you do not report the collision the police will not be able to find the fleeing suspect. And if you are injured it is important that you file a police report in order to make an insurance claim (yes, an insurance claim, your own car insurance may cover your injuries!).

About insurance

Oregon automobile insurance covers hit and run collisions where a person is hurt by a motor vehicle, even where the victim is on foot or a bicycle. Automobile insurers in Oregon are required to include in every policy what is called Uninsured Motorist Coverage which includes special Hit and Run coverage. However there are technical requirements for coverage so be mindful that one must follow certain basic rules:

  • First, the collision must be mostly the fault of the person who left the scene;
  • Second, a report of the collision must be made within 72 hours to law enforcement and the claim must be reported to the insurance company within 30 days;
  • Third, if there is a “vehicle” occupied or operated by the injured party it must be available for inspection by the insurance company.

Note that even if the hit and run suspect has caused the injury without actual contact with the injured person or their vehicle, this “phantom vehicle” claim can still be made so long as “the facts of the accident can be corroborated by competent evidence other than the testimony of the injured person”, ORS 742.504(g)(B). While this sounds like a tough requirement, if care is taken to gather evidence from the scene, gather witness information, and preserve any evidence showing the way the incident happened without an actual collision, then a successful claim may be made for all the damages including medical costs, wage loss, and pain and suffering.

Be persistent and follow through

If you or someone you know gets in a hit and run incident don’t give up without going through the steps necessary to report and follow through on each step. While the reason people take off from the scene of a collision is that a lot of times they get away with it, if you report it to the police and keep checking in with the investigating officer to learn about progress, at least you have done what you can. And make sure to check and see if there is existing insurance to cover damages.

We know this is a maddening crime and it’s even worse if it happens to you; but if you just give up before starting, there’s is no chance the person will ever get caught and held accountable.

*The ORS that refer to hit and runs, use the word “driver” as the default. I prefer the more mode-neutral term “vehicle operator” which makes it more clear that any type of vehicle operator using the public right of way — whether riding a motorcycle or a bicycles — can be found guilty of leaving the scene of a collision.

Browse our Get Legal with Ray Thomas story archives to learn more about Oregon bike law.

Disclaimer: This article is part of a paid promotional partnership between BikePortland.org and Swanson, Thomas, Coon & Newton.

The post Get Legal with Ray Thomas: What you need to know about hit and run appeared first on BikePortland.org.

Get Legal: Being “nice” is dangerous and could make you at fault in a collision

Get Legal: Being “nice” is dangerous and could make you at fault in a collision

Rosa Parks Way -3

Being nice isn’t so nice when it creates confusion.
(Photo by J. Maus/BikePortland)

Written by lawyer Ray Thomas of Swanson, Thomas Coon & Newton.

Some road users go out of their way (and beyond the law) to be “nice.” Being nice isn’t always a bad thing. Sometimes it involves giving somebody a break, or allowing a successful traffic merge; but other times — such as when a driver waves another driver through stopped traffic — there can be disastrous consequences.

When road users go out of their way to accommodate others when there is no legal authority for doing so, it creates real trouble later if someone gets hurt as a result of their “nice” gesture. In this column, I’ll go over some common scenarios where being what you think is good can actually be very bad.

Waving others through an intersection

In heavy traffic situations, most people attempt to honor the Oregon law prohibiting blocking, or “impeding traffic” (ORS 811.130) or “plugging” intersections so that cross traffic can get through (ORS 811.550 prohibits stopping “within an intersection.”) However, some drivers, in an attempt to be helpful, wave other drivers through without considering that someone on a bicycle in an adjacent lane may be lawfully occupying the area in the direct path of the left turning driver.

When a collision happens, many times the “helpful” driver is gone from the scene, leaving an injured person and a baffled driver behind wondering who initiated the collision.

When a collision happens, many times the “helpful” driver is gone from the scene, leaving an injured person and a baffled driver behind wondering who initiated the collision. Sometimes, when the “waver” stays behind it is possible to make a claim against their insurance company for failing to carefully assess other traffic before making the wave. In essence the waver is assuming responsibility for conditions being safe to make the left turn.

Before one attempts to wave someone through they should always do a shoulder check for walkers, bikers and other overtaking traffic to make sure that they’re not about to create a wreck for others road users.

Bike riders waving drivers across bicycle lanes

Sometimes a bicycle rider who’s nervous about a left or right turning car next to a bicycle lane will wave them through in an attempt to avoid a potential conflict. This maneuver endangers other overtaking bike riders or people walking in crosswalks who aren’t anticipating that the driver will suddenly start moving when they should have slowed or stopped in order to yield to the person in the bicycle lane (as Oregon law requires). This maneuver is particularly dangerous for bike riders who aren’t anticipating that a rider ahead of them has waved the driver through the bike lane.

Next time you consider doing this, think to yourself: Are you sure you want to avoid a potential conflict so much that you are willing to assume responsibility for other road users the driver might hit on their way across the road in front of you?

Passing other riders

Some riders attempt to facilitate overtaking cars’ efforts to pass a group or single rider, for example on a long climb where the riders are going substantially below normal motor vehicle speed. In these instances the lead rider will wave an overtaking car forward when it appears that the lane ahead is clear of oncoming traffic. However the helpful waver has invited what may be an unsafe passing maneuver. In these instances we recommend riding single or double file as far to the right as practical (as required by ORS 814.430). It’s best for riders to allow overtaking auto drivers to decide for themselves when it’s safe to pass — without inviting a passing maneuver which may cause a head-on or side-swipe collision.

People using crosswalks

One of the reasons Oregon Walks and other organizations changed Oregon law for walking in crosswalks was to create q legal trigger of the walkers’ right of way so that drivers know when to stop before they enter the kill zone. The Oregon crosswalk law (ORS 811.028(5)) states that drivers must stop for people walking in marked or unmarked crosswalks “when any part or extension of the pedestrian, including but not limited to any part of the pedestrian’s body, wheelchair, cane, crutch or bicycle, moves on to the roadway in a crosswalk with the intent to proceed.”

Riding on Alberta-1

Who knows what lurks ahead?

Under the current Oregon system, people who are hanging back on the curb but have not stepped or rolled off of the curb into the crosswalk (unless they are proceeding with a walk signal at a signalized intersection) have not yet exercised their right of way to the crosswalk. Many Oregon drivers (and bikers) are ignorant of crosswalk laws and fail to realize that it is not until the person has actually moved off of the curb and put a foot or bicycle wheel onto the crosswalk in the roadway that an obligation to stop is legally triggered.

The gratuitous granting of a right-of-way that does not yet exist only serves to lure people off of the curb and into a “double-threat” hazard situation because people driving in other lanes might have no idea what’s going on.

Further, ORS 814.040 states pedestrians must yield the right of way to vehicles outside of crosswalk (ORS 814.040 requires pedestrians to “yield the right of way to a vehicle upon the roadway when… crossing… at any point other than within… a crosswalk”). So if the “nice” driver waves someone across the street mid-block and another vehicle comes along and strikes the walker, the driver’s wave, in effect, lured the person into a position where they have no legal right to be.

Why does this keep happening?

Most problems involving right-of-way hazards like those discussed above occur because drivers fail to understand the basic rules of the road. The best solution for this problem is for everyone to familiarize themselves with the bicycle lane, crosswalk, and passing laws so that they know where they stand legally in these frequent encounters with other road users (start by checking out our free legal guides).

Every time we wave someone through or across a lane when the law grants no right-of-way to the recipient of the “favor” the possibility of a collision greatly increases. While it is somewhat ironic that being nice can be dangerous and illegal, the best practice is to save those favors for when someone is trying to merge into the lane in front of you.

Ray Thomas
(Photo © J. Maus/BikePortland)

This article is part of our monthly legal series with Portland-based lawyer and bike law expert Ray Thomas of Swanson, Thomas, Coon & Newton. (Disclaimer: STC&N is a BikePortland advertiser and this article is part of a paid promotional partnership.)

The post Get Legal: Being “nice” is dangerous and could make you at fault in a collision appeared first on BikePortland.org.

Get Legal: Doored? The law is on your side (but that might not be enough)

Get Legal: Doored? The law is on your side (but that might not be enough)

door zone warning stencil-10

(Photo J. Maus/BikePortland)

If you ever have the unfortunate luck of coming into conflict with another road user, it’s always a pleasure to find out the law is in your favor.

Usually, conflicts on the road relate to the question of who has the right to the same space at the same time. Having someone open their car door into you — a.k.a. getting “doored” — falls into this category. Usually a motor vehicle operator fails to see a bicycle rider and opens a door so close to their path that a collision or near-miss occurs. While defensive riding can go a long way toward avoiding this sometimes painful encounter, sometimes there is just nothing a rider can do — everything happens too fast.

Fortunately, this is one of those areas where the law is on the side of the bicycle rider. Here’s the relevant section of Oregon’s Vehicle Code (remember bicycles are “vehicles” too) that prohibits opening the door of any vehicle unless it is reasonably safe to do so:

ORS 811.490: Improper opening or leaving open of vehicle door; penalty. (1) A person commits the offense of improper opening or leaving open a vehicle door if the person does any of the following:

    (a) Opens any door of a vehicle unless and until it is reasonably safe to do so and it can be done without interference with the movement of traffic, or with pedestrians and bicycles on sidewalks or shoulders.

    (b) Leaves a door open on the side of a vehicle available to traffic, or to pedestrians or bicycles on sidewalks or shoulders for a period of time longer than necessary to load or unload passengers.

(2) The offense described in this section, improper opening or leaving open a vehicle door, is a Class D traffic infraction.

The scheduled bail amount for a Class D Traffic Infraction is $110.00, and the fine is the same. Note that the law makes it illegal not only to open the door when it interferes with people trying to get by, but it is also illegal to leave the door open longer than necessary to load or unload passengers.

One would think that the law is so clear-cut that disputes over who was at fault would never arise. Unfortunately that’s not the case.

From my experience investigating these cases, the motor vehicle driver is apologetic and completely willing to accept blame at the scene (in spite of the advice on many insurance identification cards which state, “do not accept fault for the accident”). But, by the time the motor vehicle operator thinks about it and talks to an insurance adjuster or attorney, their view of what happened suddenly changes.

The revised version goes something like this:

“I opened my car door with plenty of distance behind me for the approaching bicyclist to see it. If the bicyclist had been paying attention, he or she would have seen that my door was open and ridden around it. Since I only intended to have the door open long enough to get out of the car, the accident is mostly the fault of the bicyclist.”

Believe it or not, this argument is enough to inject a note of comparative negligence on the part of the person operating a bicycle into the equation in most cases.

The percentage of comparative fault works out to a pro rata reduction in the amount of damages, so the effect is significant. Add the fact that most of the members of any jury will identify primarily with the motor vehicle operator, not the bicycle rider, and you have a recipe for disappointment. Remember, under Oregon’s system of comparative fault, if a jury decides that the motor vehicle operator was partly at fault for opening the car door (less than 50%) but the person riding a bicycle was mostly at fault (more than 50%) for failing to pay close enough attention and to make a reasonable effort to avoid striking the open door, then the person riding the bicycle loses in court — even though the person operating the motor vehicle violated the vehicle code by his or her own admission.

I’ve found that in almost every car door collision case the person operating the motor vehicle is primarily at fault. However, it is essential in every case that the person riding the bicycle carefully remember and reconstruct the scene of the incident to demonstrate that there was not enough time to take necessary evasive action in order to avoid hitting the door. Usually, bicycle riders relate that things just happened too fast and there was simply not enough time to avoid the car door.

While it’s nice to have the law on your side, you also need to be prepared to make your case to an insurance adjuster. Knowing, and being ready to present in advance, Oregon’s law and a mental reconstruction of how the collision happened will prepare you to make a successful insurance claim.

Ray Thomas
(Photo © J. Maus/BikePortland)

This article is part of our monthly legal series with Portland-based lawyer and bike law expert Ray Thomas of Swanson, Thomas, Coon & Newton. (Disclaimer: STC&N is a BikePortland advertiser and this article is part of a paid promotional partnership.)

Get legal with Ray Thomas: How to fight for your property damage claim (Part 2)

Get legal with Ray Thomas: How to fight for your property damage claim (Part 2)

Now what?
(Photo by J. Maus/BikePortland)

(This is the second (and final) part of our in-depth look at property damage claims by Portland lawyer Ray Thomas*. See the first part here.)

V. Gear and Rental List

Sometimes riders are discouraged because the responsible driver’s insurance company fails to promptly pay on the property damage claim. In auto v. auto cases, property damage claims get settled promptly because claims adjusters are accustomed to providing a rental car while the damaged vehicle is in the shop getting fixed. The same law applies to bicycles – the bicycle rider is entitled to a rental vehicle or bus fare, ride-share costs or other reasonable expenses for the time it takes to get the damaged bicycle fixed and serviceable again. One tip for adding speed to the property damage disposition is to have the quote at the bicycle shop include the cost of a comparable rental bicycle by the day, week, and month so that the rider can let the adjuster know how the cost of delay is going to be transferred to the insurance company.

The same rules apply for other personal items such as helmet, panniers, clothing, and other personal property. If the clothing is new and you still have a receipt, it will be helpful for the bike shop in making an appraisal. If the property is older, the shop will need to know when you purchased it and the condition it was in prior to the collision. Finally, it is important that you save all property damaged so that you can show it to the adjuster if asked.

VI. ORS 20.080 – When the Offer is Unfair

We frequently hear from angry bicyclists who feel they are not being dealt with fairly in determining who was at fault in the accident, or the value of damaged property. Few bicyclists are willing to go to small claims court to advocate for themselves. Unfortunately, this means that riders frequently grudgingly accept “low ball” offers to settle property damage claims. One tool that does exist for bicyclists is a law that gives a victim a negotiating edge. ORS 20.080 provides that in claims for less than $10,000 if a thirty-day demand letter is sent to the responsible party and is not paid, and the victim gets a lawyer and files a successful lawsuit, the responsible party has to pay the amount originally owed, plus attorney fees and costs. In a simple property damage claim the attorney fees and costs could total several thousand dollars. If a bicycle rider is in negotiations and is being treated unfairly, it will probably be of assistance to mention this law because if the bicyclist has to go out and hire a lawyer to file a lawsuit and wins the case then the amount awarded as costs and fees may very well exceed the amount owed in the first place.

The statutory provision is contained in its entirety below:

ORS 20.080 Attorney fees in actions for damages for personal or property injury.

(1) In any action for damages for an injury or wrong to the person or property, or both, of another where the amount pleaded is $10,000 or less, and the plaintiff prevails in the action, there shall be taxed and allowed to the plaintiff, at trial and on appeal, a reasonable amount to be fixed by the court as attorney fees for the prosecution of the action, if the court finds that written demand for the payment of such claim was made on the defendant, and on the defendants insurer, if known to the plaintiff, not less than 30 days before the commencement of the action or the filing of a formal complaint under ORS 46.465 (Time and place of hearing), or not more than 30 days after the transfer of the action under ORS 46.461 (Counterclaims). However, no attorney fees shall be allowed to the plaintiff if the court finds that the defendant tendered to the plaintiff, prior to the commencement of the action or the filing of a formal complaint under ORS 46.465 (Time and place of hearing), or not more than 30 days after the transfer of the action under ORS 46.461 (Counterclaims), an amount not less than the damages awarded to the plaintiff.

(2) If the defendant pleads a counterclaim, not to exceed $10,000, and the defendant prevails in the action, there shall be taxed and allowed to the defendant, at trial and on appeal, a reasonable amount to be fixed by the court as attorney fees for the prosecution of the counterclaim.

VII. Conclusion

Property damage claims can be very frustrating for riders who are trying to represent themselves to get a fair recovery for their damaged equipment. Knowledge of the law helps to make the process a little easier, but, in the final analysis, fair payment on damaged property claims requires a willingness to spend the time necessary to present the proof of loss, and persevere through negotiations to obtain fair payment.

(*Ray’s law firm, Swanson, Thomas, Coon & Newton is a BikePortland advertiser and this article is part of our marketing partnership.

Get legal with Ray Thomas: How to fight for your property damage claim (Part 1)

Get legal with Ray Thomas: How to fight for your property damage claim (Part 1)

Now what?
(Photo by J. Maus/BikePortland)

(Publisher’s Note: We’ve split this article into two parts because Ray is an authority on this topic and he gets into some important details. Come back tomorrow for the finale. Also worth mentioning is that Ray’s firm, Swanson, Thomas, Coon & Newton, is a BikePortland advertiser and this column is part of our partnership. — Jonathan)

I. Introduction

Sometimes it’s tough to get fair treatment when a collision results in property damage but no personal injury. While it’s always better not to have to deal with a physical injury, there is not enough money involved from the contingent fee (1/3) on a property damage case for most lawyers to even justify opening a file, so most riders end up representing themselves. If you are going to go it alone it helps to know the lay of the land before you start. This article contains an overview of the law of property damage and some tips on how to get a fair amount for your damaged ride.

Fortunately, most bicycle collisions do not result in personal injuries. Instead, wheels get bent, helmets scraped and, if the accident is the motorist’s fault, a “property damage” claim is made against an insurance company. For bicyclists, property damage claims can be frustrating because they typically have little or no experience in legal matters and find themselves advocating for damages with experienced claims adjusters. Since the amount involved is usually small, the bicyclist ends up appealing to the claims adjuster’s sense of fairness. Most claims adjusters are not experienced riders and they are frequently shocked by the costs of bicycle repair and parts.

Property Damage Claims – The Basics
  • 2 year statue of limitations, or notice required within 180 days if against a public entity;
  • Comparative fault reduces damages by the percent attributable for the claimant, up to 51% if the bicyclist is most at fault – no recovery;
  • Measure of damages is “Diminution in Value” – the difference in value before and after the collision;
  • Get a written damage estimate on a form with the bike shop letterhead;
  • Don’t forget to save all damaged property and include all losses in your claim; and
  • If you are injured you can still obtain a property damage settlement and present your injury claim after you fully recover.

II. Comparative Fault

Since property damages are not recoverable unless the motorist is more than 50 percent at fault, Oregon’s law requires a potential defendant pay their percentage of fault only if it is greater than the bicyclist. This means that if the bicyclist is 51 percent at fault and a motorist is 49 percent at fault, the motorist completely escapes financial responsibility. But if for example the motorist is 80% at fault, and the bike rider is 20% at fault, the motorist must pay 80% of the damage under Oregon’s “Comparative Fault” law. This means that bicycle riders need to be prepared to show the legal basis for their damage claim, and adjust their damages down by their own percent of contribution to the wreck.

Typical shared fault scenarios include collisions that result from multiple factors, like when a rider fails to exercise “due care” after a motorist makes a driving mistake, such as when a rider panics and crashes after being cut off by a motorist when if the rider had done nothing there would have been no contact or impact.

Since the claims adjuster’s job is to pay as little as possible on a claim, any fault arguably attributable to the bicyclist will be pointed out as a reason to reduce the amount paid. It is essential during these discussions that a bicyclist know the basic Rules of the Road. If possible, be prepared to cite actual Oregon Revised Statute (ORS) numbers.

III. Diminution in Value – The Law of Property Damage

The law relating to property damage claims is technical. Many people believe that they should receive the amount of money they will need to replace their damaged property. Unfortunately, that is not the law. Instead, the bicyclist is entitled to the amount of money equal to the difference between the fair market value of the property immediately before, and immediately after, the occurrence. This is called the “diminution in property value”. Bicycles depreciate rapidly and often the market value of a used bicycle is considerably less than its original purchase price. In order to establish market value, it is best to take your bicycle to a bike shop and get the following estimates:

  • Value of the bicycle in the condition it was in immediately before the accident. In other words, the appraisal should be of the same year and model as your bicycle in the same condition. Most bike shops only sell new bikes. If you are having trouble, call around and find the name of a bike shop that sells used bicycles or will help you with your brand.
  • Cost of repair of the bicycle. Do this even if you are certain the bicycle is beyond repair.
  • Value of the bicycle in the condition it was in immediately after the accident. This amount is usually very low; what market value is there for a bent bike? The claims adjuster will almost certainly call the shop to verify your figures. If your bike is “totaled” the adjuster will want to pay the value of your bicycle before the accident minus its salvage value.

Frequently, bicycles have little or no salvage value. If you have a particular attachment to some of the components, such as that Terry saddle or that wonderful old Campagnolo crankset, let the adjuster know and they will frequently be willing to let you have these parts. It has been my experience that the adjuster will usually recognize that a bike has no salvage value and allow you to keep the damaged bike if it is indeed totaled. On the other hand, if the bicycle can be fixed, it is up to you whether you want to fix the bike or not. You are not entitled to receive more money because your bicycle had a particularly high sentimental value. However, if your bicycle was a rare bicycle, and had an unusually high monetary value, you are entitled to receive that greater value if it is damaged or destroyed.

Remember, the diminution in value of the bicycle may be much less than it would actually take to fix the bike. The law states that the person responsible for the damage need only pay the loss in value, not the cost of repair.

IV. The Statute of Limitations

The Oregon statute of limitations for property damage claims caused by negligence is two years unless the defendant is an agent for a public entity, in which case written notice of a claim must be provided to the appropriate authority within 180 days after the accident. In serious injury cases, it can be a year or more before the person has recovered enough to know what if any permanent physical impairments may have resulted; however, property damage claims can be resolved immediately after the collision. There is no tactical reason to wait to resolve the property damage claim, and if a bicyclist also suffered physical injuries any release of claims signed by the rider can be limited to property damage only so that the personal injuries may be pursued at a later time within the statute of limitations.

— Come back tomorrow for part two.

Get Legal with Ray Thomas: Oregon’s ‘Safe Passing’ law explained

Get Legal with Ray Thomas: Oregon’s ‘Safe Passing’ law explained

This is the final installment of our three-part series on Oregon’s passing laws written by our legal correspondent Ray Thomas. Read previous parts here and here.

The 2007 Oregon Legislature added an innovative law to the nation’s passing laws when Senator Floyd Prozanski (D-Eugene) reformed Oregon’s bicycle passing laws with a new collection of legal concepts. The new passing law was intended to remedy several factors believed responsible for the tragic death of triathlete Jane Higdon on Territorial Road in Eugene when she and a group of riders were passed by a truck hauling logs.

Here’s the text of the law:

ORS 811.065 Unsafe Passing of a Person Operating A Bicycle

(1) A driver of a motor vehicle commits the offense of unsafe passing of a person operating a bicycle if the driver violates any of the following requirements:

    (a) The driver of a motor vehicle may only pass a person operating a bicycle by driving to the left of the bicycle at a safe distance and returning to the lane of travel once the motor vehicle is safely clear of the overtaken bicycle. For the purposes of this paragraph, a ‘safe distance’ means a distance that is sufficient to prevent contact with the person operating the bicycle if the person were to fall into the driver’s lane of traffic. This paragraph does not apply to a driver operating a motor vehicle:

      (A) In a lane that is separate from and adjacent to a designated bicycle lane;
      (B) At a speed not greater than 35 miles per hour; or
      (C) When the driver is passing a person operating a bicycle on the person’s right side and the person operating the bicycle is turning left.

    (b) The driver of a motor vehicle may drive to the left of the center of a roadway to pass a person operating a bicycle proceeding in the same direction only if the roadway to the left of the center is unobstructed for a sufficient distance to permit the driver to pass the person operating the bicycle safely and avoid interference with oncoming traffic. This paragraph does not authorize driving on the left side of the center of a roadway when prohibited under ORS 811.295, 811.300 or 811.310 to 811.325.
    (c) The driver of a motor vehicle that passes a person operating a bicycle shall return to an authorized lane of traffic as soon as practicable.

(2) Passing a person operating a bicycle in a no passing zone in violation of ORS 811.420 constitutes prima facie evidence of commission of the offense described in this section, unsafe Enrolled Senate Bill 108 (SB 108-BCCA) Page 1 passing of a person operating a bicycle, if the passing results in injury to or the death of the person operating the bicycle.

(3) The offense described in this section, unsafe passing of a person operating a bicycle, is a Class B traffic violation. (Maximum fine of $360.)

While a number of states have legislated specific passing distances, the most common of which is three feet, the Oregon law uses the rider’s “fall over” height as a distance measure, a useful gauge to protect from a side swipe.

The law, which went into effect on January 1, 2008, defines “safe distance” as “sufficient to prevent contact with the person operating the bicycle if the person were to fall into the driver’s lane of traffic.” While a number of states have legislated specific passing distances, the most common of which is three feet, the Oregon law uses the rider’s “fall over” height as a distance measure, a useful gauge to protect from a side swipe.

Specific exclusions from the law are traffic lanes next to a bicycle lane, speeds below 35 mph, or when the rider is turning left. The 35 mph speed limit was a compromise to allow city transit services to travel more closely to riders in a low speed dense traffic environment.

The law limits the passing maneuver to instances where the roadway is unobstructed to avoid the situation where drivers are tempted to “squeeze” by persons on bicycles when there is oncoming traffic. The law makes clear its intention not to authorize passing when it is otherwise prohibited by law, and states that if a passing maneuver in a no-passing zone causes injury or death to the person on a bike then such an act is “prima facie” evidence of the offense, which means that no further proof is necessary to establish the elements of the violation. However, the law does not specifically prohibit passing a rider or group of riders in a no passing zone; instead it attempts to hold a driver responsible for an attempt to pass in a no-passing zone which results in an injury collision, either by the driver failing to yield to oncoming traffic or driving too close to the persons on bicycles.

When the Bicycle Passing Law Does Not Apply

In instances where the passing law is inapplicable, such as where the posted speed limit is less than 35 mph, then the general Oregon passing law will still apply to persons on bicycles being passed by motorized traffic. ORS 811.410 governs passing on the left of another vehicle (including bicycles). It states in relevant part:

811.410 Unsafe passing on left; penalty.

(1) A person commits the offense of unsafe passing on the left if the person violates any of the following requirements concerning the overtaking and passing of vehicles:

    (a) The driver of a vehicle that is overtaking any other vehicle proceeding in the same direction shall pass to the left of the other vehicle at a safe distance and shall not again drive to the right side of the roadway until safely clear of the overtaken vehicle.
    (c) The driver of a vehicle shall not drive to the left side of the center of the roadway in overtaking and passing a vehicle proceeding in the same direction unless the left side is clearly visible and is free of oncoming traffic for a sufficient distance ahead to permit the overtaking and passing to be completed without interfering with the operation of a vehicle approaching from the opposite direction or a vehicle overtaken.

While the “general” passing law in ORS 811.410 does not include the new “fall over” safe passing distance contained in ORS 811.065, it nevertheless specifies that the passing vehicle must give a “safe distance” to the passed vehicle (bicycle). Where people “buzz” or even hit a rider with their cars when overtaking and passing the “general” rule of ORS 811.410 provides a basis for a traffic citation, even if the new bicycle passing law does not apply because of speed or where the rider is in a bicycle lane. In instances where the driver intentionally “buzzes” the person on a bike then stronger legal measures are called for, like Reckless Driving, Reckless Endangerment, Menacing or Assault; but where the actions are the result of a mistake then the “general” law can still be the basis for a citation by law enforcement or a citizen violation prosecution. A citation for Careless Driving is also likely warranted in most unintentional “close passing” incidents.

“Following Too Close” and Pace Lines

The final portion of ORS 811.065 is an amendment to the “following too close” statute which clarifies that persons on bicycles may lawfully ride in a pace line. The “following too closely” law, ORS 811.485, now specifically applies only to “motor” vehicles, excluding bicycles from its scope. While some members of the law enforcement community may be displeased that persons on bicycles are singled out for more favorable treatment than other vehicles, the law does make a clear statement that bicycle pace lines (where groups of riders are “taking the wheel” of the rider in front in order to draft and reduce wind resistance) exist with the legal blessing of the vehicle code.

Conclusion

Oregon’s passing laws contain legal concepts that allow a fluid, dynamic, and cooperative sharing of the road between road users — whether they’re on a bike or in a motorized vehicle. People are responsible for applying these rules on the road into actual practice. When that happens, the roadways are capable of safe use for all users.

Ray Thomas
(Photo © J. Maus/BikePortland)

This article is part of our monthly legal series with Portland-based lawyer and bike law expert Ray Thomas of Swanson, Thomas, Coon & Newton. (Disclaimer: STC&N is a BikePortland advertiser and this monthly article is part of our promotional partnership.)

Get Legal with Ray Thomas: Passing around centerline myths and riding ‘two-up’

Get Legal with Ray Thomas: Passing around centerline myths and riding ‘two-up’

Ride to Monmouth-14

Legal? That depends.
(Photos by J. Maus/BikePortland)

This is part two of our three-part series on Oregon’s passing laws written by our legal correspondent Ray Thomas. Read part one here.

​When is it OK to ride side-by-side?

While the law is not entirely clear, it makes no sense to prohibit a driver from merely moving slightly over the double yellow line when the driver can lawfully perform the same maneuver to go around a pothole or a dog in the road.

ORS 814.430 (the Bill of Rights statute) provides that riders who are traveling “at less than the normal speed of traffic using the roadway at that time and place under the existing conditions” must ride “as close as practicable to the right curb or edge of the roadway” except:

(e) When operating a bicycle alongside not more than one other bicycle as long as the bicycles are both being operated within a single lane and in a manner that does not impede the normal and reasonable movement of traffic.

The statute seems to indicate that riders may ride as many abreast as they want so long as no other traffic is impeded. However, once overtaking traffic is slowed, riders must travel no more than two abreast, so long as “the normal and reasonable movement of traffic” is not impeded.

Does this mean that riders on a roadway may ride two abreast even when going slower than overtaking traffic? It seems reasonable that the riders may maintain their side by side position or double paceline so long as overtaking motor vehicle operators are able to safely go around the group.

​So, if there is no oncoming traffic, it is a passing zone, and overtaking traffic can easily go around the riders the law seems pretty clear. But what if it occurs in a no passing zone?

Currently some drivers and law enforcement officers argue that a motor vehicle operator may not “pass” persons on bicycles in a “no passing zone”. This mechanistic approach encourages a frustrating gridlock condition in the traffic lanes. The better practice is to interpret the traffic statutes in a way that encourages a fluid and dynamic flow of traffic and allows the natural cooperative attitude of drivers and riders to team up to share the road. Oregon statute supports such a view.

ORS 811.420 states:

    (1) A person commits the offense of passing in a no passing zone if the person drives a vehicle on the left side of a roadway in a no passing zone that has been established and designated to prohibit such movements by appropriate signs or markings posted on the roadway.
    (2) The authority to establish and post no passing zones for purposes of this section is established under ORS 810.120 (Designation of no passing zones).
    (3) The provisions of this section do not apply under any of the following circumstances:

      (a) When a driver turns left into or from an alley, intersection, private road or driveway.
      (b) When an obstruction or condition exists making it necessary to drive to the left of the center of the roadway provided that a driver doing so shall yield the right of way to all vehicles traveling in the proper direction upon the unobstructed portion of the roadway within a distance that would constitute an immediate hazard.

The passing zone statute prohibits a person from passing by driving a vehicle “on the left side of a roadway in a no passing zone”. What does it mean to “drive a vehicle on the left side of the roadway in a no passing zone”? Is the statute violated by the driver who merely allows the driver’s side tires to go slightly over the double yellow line to pass a single rider or line of persons on bicycles riding side-by-side? While the law is not entirely clear, it makes no sense to prohibit a driver from merely moving slightly over the double yellow line when the driver can lawfully perform the same maneuver to go around a pothole or a dog in the road. Common sense and the statute support a maneuver allowing motorized and human powered vehicle operators to move around each other and then proceed at their different rates of speed:

passing

Go ahead and cross that centerline!

The legal bottom line is that presence of people on bicycles in the lane ahead is a “condition” that “exists making it necessary to drive to the left of the center of the roadway.” Thus, while a driver is prohibited from driving “on the left side of the roadway in a no passing zone” by ORS 811.420(1), the exceptions in ORS 811.420(3)(b) allow the driver to “drive to the left of the center of the roadway” for a “condition” that makes it “necessary”. Driving on the “left side of the roadway” suggests a greater intrusion over the center line than to merely move over to “drive to the left of the center of the roadway”. And the narrow width of track of a bicycle allows the driver to safely pass without taking the passing vehicle all the way “on the left side of the roadway”.

​Doug Parrow, a Salem-area bicycle advocate and blogger, has researched the legislative history regarding ORS 811.420 and found that Senator Floyd Prozanski very clearly represented the view during the Safe Passing Bill’s hearings that ORS 811.420 allows a motor vehicle operator to cross a double yellow line in order to pass someone on a bicycle, and equated a bicycle to a farm tractor or any other slow moving vehicle.

​Of course this interpretation of the language achieves the riders’ desire to maintain speed and safe position on the roadway when being overtaken by drivers. It is frustrating and dangerous for overtaking drivers to follow impatiently or honk the horn when the roadway ahead is clear and it is safe to go around the riders. Drivers need to know that their driver’s side tires will not be vaporized by passing over the double yellow line in order to give safe berth to persons on bicycles. Many unnecessary roadside conflicts would never occur if drivers would willingly move over to pass persons on bicycles safely.​

Ray Thomas
(Photo © J. Maus/BikePortland)

This article is part of our monthly legal series with Portland-based lawyer and bike law expert Ray Thomas of Swanson, Thomas, Coon & Newton. (Disclaimer: STC&N is a BikePortland advertiser and this monthly article is part of our promotional partnership.)

Get Legal with Ray Thomas: Bicycling and Oregon’s passing laws

Get Legal with Ray Thomas: Bicycling and Oregon’s passing laws

passing

The legal side of getting passed.
(Photo by J. Maus/BikePortland)

Welcome to part one of a three part series on Oregon’s passing laws.

Trying to decipher Oregon’s passing laws are a perfect example of how it’s often difficult to know when (and how) a particular vehicle law applies to someone riding a bicycle. Confusion about application of the rules of the road and vehicle laws sometimes results when frustrated motor vehicle operators turn to the statutes to try to put bicycle riders in their “proper” place on the roadway; but rights and responsibilities of bicycle riders on the roadway are somewhat of a legal hybrid in the Oregon statutes. Frustration of motor vehicle operators must not be allowed to diminish the bicycle operator’s legitimate right to share the traveled portion of the roadway — and even to occupy a full lane when necessary — to avoid surface hazards or other potential dangers. ​

​Of course, for a bicycle operator, the obligation to ride only as far to the right as practicable is the legal “bottom line,” mandated by ORS 814.430, often referred to as referred to by me as the “Oregon Bicycle Bill of Rights”, even though the statute title (“Improper Use of Lanes”) sounds like a prohibition. ORS 814.430 allows riders to maintain occupancy of the entire lane when necessary, even if motor vehicle operators have to slow until riders are able to again ride closer to the right edge.

​One question posed by some drivers is whether ORS 811.425, which describes the violation of “Failure to Yield to An Overtaking Vehicle,” mandates that a person on a bike, as a “slower driver” must move their “vehicle” off the “main traveled portion of the roadway” when overtaken by a faster person in a car. ORS 811.425 states:

Failure of slower driver to yield to overtaking vehicle; penalty. (1) A person commits the offense of failure of a slower driver to yield to overtaking vehicles if the person is driving a vehicle and the person fails to move the person’s vehicle off the main traveled portion of the highway into an area sufficient for safe turnout when:

    ​(a)​ The driver of the overtaken vehicle is proceeding at a speed less than a designated speed under ORS 911.105;
    ​(b) ​The driver of the overtaking vehicle is proceeding at a speed in conformity with ORS 811.105;
    ​(c)​ The highway is a two directional, two-lane highway; and
    ​(d)​ There is no clear lane for passing available to the driver of the overtaking vehicle.
    ​(2) ​This section does not apply to the driver of a vehicle in a funeral procession.
    ​(3)​ The offense described in this section, failure of a slower driver to yield to overtaking vehicle, is a Class B traffic violation.

​In State of Oregon v. Potter (2002), the Oregon Court of Appeals reviewed a Critical Mass rider’s conviction for impeding traffic (ORS 811.130). That law provides “a person commits the offense of impeding traffic if the person drives a motor vehicle or a combination of motor vehicles in a manner that impedes or blocks the normal and reasonable movement of traffic.” At trial, the defendant argued that the statute only applied to motor vehicles. ORS 801.360 defines a motor vehicle as “a vehicle that is self-propelled or designed for self propulsion.” Clearly, a bicycle is not a motor vehicle. “Bicycle” is defined (via ORS 801.150) as a “vehicle” that is “propelled exclusively by human power.”

However, ORS 814.400 provides:

(1) every person riding a bicycle on a public way is subject to the provisions applicable to and has the same rights and duties as the driver of any other vehicle concerning operating on highways * * *, except:
(b) when otherwise specifically provided under the vehicle code.

The court reasoned that because the text of the impeding traffic statute fails to exclude bicycles then it applies to all vehicles, including bicycles. And ORS 814.430 specifically provides in paragraph (c) that bicycles are not excused from compliance with the requirements of ORS 811.425 (the slow-moving vehicle law). While Oregon courts have not provided a definitive legal analysis of the relationship between the two laws, it is quite likely that these statutes would be interpreted to allow bicycles to stay in the travel lane, even if it means holding up overtaking vehicles so long as surface hazards prevent the riders from moving in safety off the main traveled portion of the roadway. After all, ORS 811.425 provides that a slow moving vehicle must only move into areas that are “sufficient for safe turnouts.” If the shoulder or area to the right of the fog line contains glass, gravel, rough spots, or other hazards, the rider has a right not to move out of the roadway.

​And, ORS 814.430 (“Bicycle Bill of Rights”) provides other conditions justifying use of up to the entire lane:

(2) ​A person is not in violation of the offense under this section if the person is not operating a bicycle as close as practicable to the right curb or edge of the roadway under any of the following circumstances:

(c) ​When reasonably necessary to avoid hazardous conditions including, but not limited to, fixed or moving objects, parked or moving vehicles, bicycles, pedestrians, animals, surface hazards or other conditions that make continued operation along the right curb or edge unsafe or to avoid unsafe operation in a lane on the roadway that is too narrow for a bicycle and vehicle to travel safely side by side.

While future appellate cases may provide additional guidance on the relationship between the Rules of the Road, one statutory provision does not trump another — the right of people on bicycles to the road contained in ORS 814.430 provides both a safe haven on the roadway and the right to take the lane when necessary.​

​What is also clear is that people on bicycles must not impede traffic (ORS 811.130(1)), or fail to yield to faster overtaking vehicles (ORS 811.425) when there is an area “sufficient for a safe turnout”. But people on bicycles are not required to place themselves in a position of danger in order to yield to overtaking vehicles; instead, the riders must use good judgement in finding safe areas to move over as space and conditions allow. The narrow width of track of a bicycle allows the rider to utilize the full width of the pavement to allow overtaking vehicles to pass. Unlike a wide truck or trailer, overtaking vehicles can easily go around bicycle riders without requiring that the rider pull over and stop.

​The Potter case serves as a warning for riders that unreasonably failing to yield to traffic or overtaking vehicles may trigger a traffic citation. What the Potter case does not change is the right to take the lane when reasonable necessary for safety, even if it means slowing down overtaking vehicles.

Ray Thomas
(Photo © J. Maus/BikePortland)

This article is part of our monthly legal series with Portland-based lawyer and bike law expert Ray Thomas of Swanson, Thomas, Coon & Newton. (Disclaimer: STC&N is a BikePortland advertiser and this monthly article is part of our promotional partnership.)