Posted by Jonathan Maus ( Publisher/Editor ) on August 3rd, 2010 at 9:48 am
This week’s Ask BikePortland comes from reader Rob B.:
I was wondering if you have any insight into the issue of delivery trucks illegally parking in bike lanes? In particular, my daily commute takes me south on SW 1st St from the Hawthorne Bridge. In the block between Clay and Market there are often UPS and/or Fed Ex trucks parked in the bike lane, forcing cyclists out into traffic.
I’ve actually made an effort in the past to contact parking enforcement, but nothing has changed. One morning I saw a parking enforcement guy and asked him about it. He said that he could ticket them, but that it would make little difference since both UPS and Fed Ex just “bundle” their tickets and negotiate reduced fees with the city. It’s very frustrating and I’m guessing that my initial instinct to sabotage the trucks wouldn’t be too wise in the long run…
Great question Rob. My first hunch was that yes, they are allowed to be in the bike lane as long as it’s just for a few minutes and they are actively loading or unloading. However, a quick consultation of Oregon traffic law tells me otherwise.
Oregon law is very protective of bike lanes, but there are some exceptions where motor vehicles are allowed to travel over them. ORS 814.440, “When motor vehicles may operate on bicycle lane,” provides a list of exemptions, but it says nothing about delivery trucks. There is section (2) (c) that states “A person may operate a motor vehicle upon a bicycling lane when: Required in the course of official duty,” but I assume that means police, fire, or other City duties and not just any private business.
Perhaps a legal expert can chime in with a comment, but I think you’ve got every reason to be frustrated.
That being said, there are situations that put delivery truck drivers in a difficult spot. Take the new buffered bike lanes on SW Stark and Oak. Those streets have two on-street parking lanes, a standard vehicle lane and a buffered bike lane. In order for delivery and service trucks to operate, they must block one of those lanes, and guess which one they choose? Yep, the bike lane. But without any other place to stop, what are their options?
When I see this happen, I try to just take a deep breath and then merge safely into the adjacent lane. I’m curious what others think about this. Do you regularly see delivery trucks blocking bike lanes? If so, how can we help prevent it from happening?