Posted by Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) on January 24th, 2012 at 10:33 am
(Photo © J. Maus)
This edition of Ask BikePortland comes from reader J. Long. Mr. Long emailed us after he was involved in a collision with someone who was jogging while riding his bike on the Springwater Corridor at night.
“Hey Jonathan, Two nights ago I was riding my bike home on the Springwater [Corridor] between OMSI and Oaks Park.
I hit a female jogger and we both went down hard. As a cyclist I am always worried that somebody may have been hurt; but as I was laying on the ground she just got up and jogged away while I was a little dazed and trying to get untangled from my bike.
Are there rules for joggers to have reflectors or lights as there are for cyclist’s on multi-use paths?”
It’s a good question, and one that will likely come up more as the number of people using our regional paths continues to climb.
According to Mark Ginsberg, a local lawyer and longtime chair and member of the City of Portland Bicycle Advisory Commitee, unlike roads and sidewalks, there are no specific laws governing shared-use paths (also known as multi-use paths or “MUPs”).
Whether on paths, sidewalks, or on roads — there are no specific Oregon laws that require people walking or jogging to have lights or reflectors.
Ginsberg added that — whether on paths, sidewalks, or on roads — there are no specific Oregon laws that require people walking or jogging to have lights or reflectors.
Without specific legal guidance for paths, Ginsberg says the rules of the road “are persuasive, but not binding” in these situations. Instead, like all traffic collisions, the police and a judge would look at the facts of the case and use their discretion to determine fault. Law or no law, Ginsberg says, in the eyes of the court, “Everyone has the duty to ‘act reasonably under the conditions then and there existing.'”
Or in other words, if it’s dark on a shared-use path and you’re jogging without any lights and cannot easily be seen by other path users, a judge might find that behavior unreasonable. On the other hand, if it’s dark and you’re riding your bike so fast that you can’t stop in time to avoid someone walking or jogging, you might be at fault.
Ginsberg reminds us that paths are a shared resource and all users need to take responsibility for using them with consideration for others. If you aren’t using a path carefully with respect to others and you are involved in a collision, you could be at fault regardless of whether a law exists or not.
Thanks for the question J. Long. Perhaps some very smart and helpful folks from the community would like to add their insights and experiences… (that’s a hint to leave a comment if you have something helpful to share).
(If you have a question about anything bike-related, drop us a line and we’ll consider it for a future edition of Ask BikePortland.)