home

Clearing up confusion around Oregon’s crosswalk law

Posted by on January 4th, 2013 at 12:45 pm

Crosswalks in action-4
(Photo © J. Maus/BikePortland)

Last month I shared the story of a reader who admitted that he doesn’t always stop for people on foot waiting to cross the road in front of him. In that story I mentioned Oregon’s crosswalk law; but I mistakenly left out a key part of it. After hearing from several readers who were concerned about what I wrote, I want to clear up any confusion about the law. Here’s what I wrote:

Oregon law (ORS 811.028) clearly states that if you see a person waiting to cross an intersection at a corner, and you’re able to do so in time, you must stop and let them cross.

What I failed to mention is that you are only required to stop if the person has made some effort to demonstrate their desire to cross. My memory of recent legislation changes to the crosswalk laws was faulty and I regret the error. Thankfully, I’ve heard from Oregon Walk Executive Director Steph Routh and she has helped sort out my misunderstandings.

In my defense however, the law is anything but clear.

For years, Routh says, advocates tried to amend 811.028 before finally succeeding in 2011. Here’s why Routh says they wanted to change it:

“Before the Crosswalk Safety Bill passed in 2011, a person activated their right to cross by ‘crossing,’ which law enforcement agents correctly interpreted as putting one’s whole body into the street and moving forward (the pre-2011 legal language is also how some people describe “aggressive pedestrian” behavior; ironic that it was also the only sure-fire way to activate the right to cross). The statutory language for right to cross gave us the shivers, frankly: it was at best vague and at worst a dangerous tautology, a call to engage in a leap of faith with oncoming traffic.”

At first, advocates tried to fix the law by pushing for the “hand signal bill.” That change would have allowed someone to simply raise their hand from the safety of the curb in order to trigger cars to stop. Routh and other advocates tried twice for the hand signal provision (in 2007 and 2009), but it never passed. They did, however, succeed in amending the law in 2011. Here’s what they got added to the law:

“… a pedestrian is crossing the roadway in a crosswalk when any part or extension of the pedestrian, including but not limited to any part of the pedestrians body, wheelchair, cane, crutch or bicycle, moves onto the roadway in a crosswalk with the intent to proceed.”

So, as of 2011, you no longer have to be actively “crossing” to trigger your right to cross. You only need to “dip a toe” (or a bike wheel or a cane, etc…) says Routh. “It is not a revolutionary change, but it is definitely better.”

I hope this clears things up. I definitely learned something new. And, did you know you could trigger the crosswalk law by dipping your bike’s wheel into the road?

— For more background on Oregon crosswalk laws, I strongly recommend the definitive source: A Legal Guide for Persons on Foot by Ray Thomas. It’s available as a free PDF here (*note that it’s a 2008 version).

UPDATE: We’ve been seeking further clarification in the comments and on Twitter about a particular issue with this law. My question was this: If I’m on my bike on the sidewalk and want to cross at an unsignalized intersection, can I still get the same rights as someone walking? Oregon law defines a “pedestrian” only as a “person afoot”. But ORS 814.410 also has this key provision: “Except as otherwise specifically provided by law, a bicyclist on a sidewalk or in a crosswalk has the same rights and duties as a pedestrian on a sidewalk or in a crosswalk.”

I asked lawyer Ray Thomas about this. He said that yes, the law allows someone on a bicycle to have the same crossing rights as someone walking. You do not have to dismount to exercise your right to cross. You could even be doing a trackstand, as long as you dip your front wheel into the roadway.

Email This Post Email This Post


Gravatars make better comments... Get yours here.
Please notify the publisher about offensive comments.
Comments
  • K'Tesh January 4, 2013 at 12:54 pm

    So, how does that affect me when I’m at a signalized intersection with a part of my wheel in the crosswalk just so I can put my foot down on the sidewalk height part of the ramp?

    (btw.. I still wait for the signal to go into my favor)

    Recommended Thumb up 0

    • Richard Masoner January 4, 2013 at 1:24 pm

      At signalized intersections, you’re required to wait for the signal. The language Jonathan describes is for unsignalized crosswalks.

      (IANAL, this is not legal advice, etc.)

      Recommended Thumb up 5

  • Natalie January 4, 2013 at 12:57 pm

    Portland, where bumper sticker-laden Subarus with a clear right of way stubbornly usher me and my bike through 4-way stops while cars on Burnside zip by carelessly as I take my fourth timid step into the pedestrian crossing zone.

    That said, I do appreciate the legal clarification. The first step to having these laws matter is to get Oregon drivers actually familiar with the laws of the road, rather than the local mythology of street etiquette.

    Recommended Thumb up 15

    • Pete January 4, 2013 at 1:53 pm

      Hey, I just saw that episode on the New Year’s Portlandia marathon! So true…

      Recommended Thumb up 1

    • Skid January 4, 2013 at 2:32 pm

      And I do so hate that. Because to the Subaru driver they think they are being courteous, but to any other car drivers who are waiting they see a cyclist who thinks he is entitled to ignore STOP signs.

      Recommended Thumb up 3

    • Chris I January 4, 2013 at 2:40 pm

      As a bumper sticker Subaru driver, I swear that I will not yield my right of way for you or anyone. I will however, stop at a crosswalk (marked or otherwise).

      Recommended Thumb up 9

      • Natalie January 6, 2013 at 5:18 pm

        Thanks, Chris :)

        Recommended Thumb up 1

    • Ray Thomas January 6, 2013 at 3:29 pm

      Nicely stated.

      Recommended Thumb up 1

  • Will January 4, 2013 at 1:27 pm

    Thanks for explaining the details of the law Jonathan!

    People might also want to check out Pedal Power: a Legal Guide for Oregon Bicyclists which has a section on bicycles and crosswalks. There’s a link to the latest (2012) edition on our resources page:
    http://btaoregon.org/resources/

    Recommended Thumb up 4

    • Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) January 4, 2013 at 1:57 pm

      Hey Will,

      I scanned Ray’s book again and it doesn’t say anything about the main question I still have: Can someone on a bicycle trigger their right to cross the street at an unsignalized, marked/unmarked intersection if they are straddling their top tube (and therefore meeting the “afoot” definition of a “pedestrian” in the law)?

      Recommended Thumb up 4

      • Anthony August 12, 2014 at 9:15 am

        My understanding is that a bicycle operating at no more than normal walking speed has the same rights as a pedestrian in a crosswalk, so if they are going REALLY show, you have to give them the right of easy.

        Recommended Thumb up 1

  • RWL1776 January 4, 2013 at 1:29 pm

    (of course, you have to be walking the bike in order to qualify as a “pedestrian”): some cyclist is going to get creamed at the crosswalk in front of the Rose Festival office on Naito Pkwy. I drive thru this every day, and I constantly see cyclists waiting there to cross while ON their bikes. It’s a CrossWALK, not a CrossRIDE. Get off the bike if you want cars to stop!

    Recommended Thumb up 1

    • John Lascurettes January 4, 2013 at 1:44 pm

      In Oregon, a bicycle may be counted as a pedestrian when acting as one (operating inside of a crosswalk and moving no faster than walking speed). Though that makes it rather ambiguous to cars. There is no law requiring a cyclist to dismount to use a crosswalk – but there are legal limitations.

      Recommended Thumb up 12

      • John Lascurettes January 4, 2013 at 1:46 pm

        Reference: http://www.oregonlaws.org/ors/814.410

        Except as otherwise specifically provided by law, a bicyclist on a sidewalk or in a crosswalk has the same rights and duties as a pedestrian on a sidewalk or in a crosswalk.

        Recommended Thumb up 12

        • John Lascurettes January 4, 2013 at 1:48 pm

          All that said. I still get off my bike and cross on foot when crossing W Burnside at the North Park Blocks. I feel much more assertive with my pedestrian rights that way than I do mounted. Cars respect it better that way too.

          Recommended Thumb up 5

          • Ted Buehler January 6, 2013 at 11:38 pm

            “I still get off my bike and cross on foot when crossing W Burnside at the North Park Blocks.”

            Smart, too, because you can jump out of the way a lot faster as a pedestrian than when mounted.

            Ted Buehler

            Recommended Thumb up 1

          • Spiffy January 8, 2013 at 12:18 pm

            and if tons of cars go by and nobody is stopping I just stick my bike out into traffic suddenly to get their attention… better that it gets hit than me…

            Recommended Thumb up 0

      • Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) January 4, 2013 at 1:47 pm

        Right. But that’s for using a crosswalk. What about when trying to communicate the intent to cross? I don’t think the law is intended to allow someone straddling a bicycle to trigger the crosswalk law. I am nearly positive the law (and the cops/courts) would say you are not a “pedestrian” until you are walking your bike. But again, this is all very confusing!

        Recommended Thumb up 0

        • John Lascurettes January 4, 2013 at 1:59 pm

          The law is pretty clear: it says “Except as otherwise specifically provided by law, a bicyclist on a sidewalk or in a crosswalk has the same rights and duties as a pedestrian on a sidewalk or in a crosswalk.”

          But that doesn’t mean that it’s pragmatic to exercise it.

          Recommended Thumb up 5

          • Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) January 4, 2013 at 2:04 pm

            OK. thanks John. I think I’m clear now. It’s all about being on the sidewalk. When you’re on the sidewalk or in a crosswalk, you can get the same rights as someone walking when you are still on your bike. However, if you are simply trying to cross a road on your bike while in the main roadway, it’s different and you are a vehicle, not a “pedestrian.”

            on the phone w/ Ray Thomas now to get final clarity.

            Recommended Thumb up 3

            • daisy January 4, 2013 at 2:17 pm

              As I recall from the Ray Thomas session I attended, the issue with cyclists isn’t whether you are walking or straddling, but speed. If on a bike in a crosswalk, you can only go as fast as walking speed — though joggers and skateboarders, for example, can continue at their regular speed.

              Recommended Thumb up 2

              • Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) January 4, 2013 at 2:26 pm

                daisy,

                i wasn’t confused about the crosswalk speed stuff. I get that. You’ve got to be going “Walking speed”. I was more concerned/curious about triggering your right to cross and making ppl in cars stop for you when you are biking on sidewalk. See the updates and comments above.

                Recommended Thumb up 0

              • Spiffy January 4, 2013 at 2:28 pm

                actually, when riding in a crosswalk you’re not required to go at a walking speed… you are required to not go faster than the slowest pedestrian though… so you can’t pass anybody while crossing in the crosswalk…

                and if legally the sidewalk counts as part of the roadway then you would need to slow to a walking speed when entering the crosswalk… you could then speed up if nobody else was in the crosswalk…

                Recommended Thumb up 2

                • El Biciclero January 4, 2013 at 4:52 pm

                  Actually, when using a crosswalk on your bike, you are only required to enter the crosswalk at no greater than an ordinary walking pace–and only if motor vehicles are approaching. Once in the crosswalk there is no speed requirement, only the requirement to audibly warn pedestrians before passing them.

                  Recommended Thumb up 5

      • Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) January 4, 2013 at 2:25 pm

        Just to finally clarify. John was right. I’ve posted an update. Turns out that, when trying to exercise your right to cross the road from the sidewalk, you do not have to dismount and become a “pedestrian” to do it. Thanks to the 2011 law change, you can be on your bike (even trackstanding!) and all you have to do is dip your front wheel into the road to trigger your right to cross. (of course, you still have to give folks some time to react before crossing.)

        Recommended Thumb up 1

        • spare_wheel January 5, 2013 at 10:17 am

          sidewalk riders have wicked trackstanding sKilZ.

          Recommended Thumb up 1

  • Aaron January 4, 2013 at 1:30 pm

    The crosswalk in the middle of the bridge that takes 60th over 84 used to be the worst. Visibility was okay, but since there’s a very busy bus stop right there you’d frequently see people craning their necks to watch traffic- looking for the bus. However, this looks a hell of a lot like “intent to cross,” making things very difficult for an approaching cyclist or driver. Fortunately they cured this with some pedestrian-operated flashers, if only it wasn’t such an expensive solution it would be great to see everywhere.

    Recommended Thumb up 2

    • Spiffy January 4, 2013 at 2:31 pm

      this is why I rarely stop for people who look like they might be wanting to cross if there’s a bus stop on the corner… there have been way too many times that I’ve stopped for people that walked out into the road just to look for the bus…

      now I just make sure that they’re actually in the road before I stop… which only helps a little…

      Recommended Thumb up 1

  • Nick Falbo January 4, 2013 at 1:36 pm

    I’ve always had mixed thoughts about our current laws with pedestrian crossings. The burden to “see and stop” functions well on slower streets in neighborhoods and congested urban areas, but it really doesn’t work well on fast streets, particularly those with multiple lanes.

    At 30 mph it takes up to 625 ft to notice and stop for a pedestrian, which is about 3 Portland blocks in advance of the crossing. Add another block for every 10 mph increase in driver speed.

    The physics and behavior of driving quickly isn’t compatible with the pedestrian crossing law. Because of this, physics wins out, and pedestrians are left out to dry.

    Recommended Thumb up 6

    • John Lascurettes January 4, 2013 at 1:51 pm

      Hmm. Methinks lower speeds are in order. You want high speeds? Take the interstate.

      Recommended Thumb up 6

      • Nick Falbo January 4, 2013 at 2:12 pm

        Absolutely, although it’s a difficult sell.

        Alternatively, methods to increase visibility of the intent to cross can also help: Rapid Flash Beacons, Hybrid Beacons (HAWK) and full-blown traffic signals can all tell drivers that someone wants to cross far better than a dressed-in-grey person standing at the corner 4 blocks ahead.

        Recommended Thumb up 1

        • A.K. January 4, 2013 at 4:16 pm

          I’m sold on HAWK signs after using the one on the 205 path often while commuting. More often than not people stop for me.

          Recommended Thumb up 0

          • Spiffy January 8, 2013 at 12:31 pm

            are you talking about the one on Division? I never use it, I always just assert my right of way… people are oddly really good about stopping at that crosswalk… I’m guessing that there’s a lot of pedestrian traffic so they’re used to it…

            Recommended Thumb up 0

        • spare_wheel January 5, 2013 at 10:21 am

          we cannot afford to spend 80K on HAWK signs when there is copenhagen-style separated infrastructure to build. safety first and think of the children!

          Recommended Thumb up 0

      • Jerry January 7, 2013 at 10:33 am

        I don’t know about you, but I ride the side streets because it is faster than driving on I-5 at rush hour.

        Recommended Thumb up 1

    • Spiffy January 4, 2013 at 2:33 pm

      this is why motorists are always pissed off at me for riding slowly through dense urban areas on my scooter… I’m only going to go fast enough for me to be able to see that there’s no pedestrian there, so the more sidewalk clutter there is the slower I’m going…

      I never want to be the guy that says “I didn’t see them”… I’m the guy that says “I looked and there was nobody there”…

      Recommended Thumb up 5

    • Alan 1.0 January 4, 2013 at 7:27 pm

      At 30 mph it takes up to 625 ft to notice and stop for a pedestrian, which is about 3 Portland blocks in advance of the crossing. Add another block for every 10 mph increase in driver speed.

      Brake check! The charts I find say that stopping distance (reaction distance + braking distance) is about 75 feet at 30 mph–roughly 25 paces, four parking spaces, or twice the width of the street. At 40 mph it’s about 120 feet, so yeah, speed is a big factor, but nowhere near a block. (625 feet is enough to react and brake from over 100 mph.)

      I agree that crossing a fast street, for example 35 mph 82nd, at an unmarked crosswalk is way too hairy for pedestrians, but I chalk that up to speeding, inattentiveness and insufficient knowledge of rules-of-the-road by some drivers.

      Recommended Thumb up 7

      • Nick Falbo January 4, 2013 at 9:42 pm

        Oh yes… Stopping sight distance is much lower, but even ODOT concedes that stopping sight distance is an unrealistic measurement to use in Urban conditions:

        Check out their report:
        http://www.oregon.gov/ODOT/HWY/ACCESSMGT/docs/stopdist.pdf

        For 30 mph they’ve got 94 feet as the “emergency stop” conditions for adequate stopping sight distance. But they encourage the use of “Decision Sight Distance” to reflect the realities of urban driving.

        “Complex conditions, problems of expectancy, high volumes and high speed require more time for the perception-reaction process. These conditions are present on arterial streets and highways, particularly in urban areas. ”

        Table 4B on p25 shows the high-end for complex urban conditions as 625 ft.

        Can people stop in 100 ft? yes. But it is sudden, unexpected, and from my experience as a pedestrian, it’s unlikely to happen. If someone sees you only 100 ft in advance at 30 mph, they are *not* going to stop.

        Recommended Thumb up 3

        • Alan 1.0 January 4, 2013 at 11:04 pm

          Thanks, good reference! “Decision Sight Distance” is a very useful term for thinking about this situation.

          I think you mean Table 4B on page 32. That’s where it shows 625 feet, but it’s for a “speed/path/direction change” as opposed to a stop. I’d need to know more about the test criteria to evaluate that in terms of pedestrian crossing; it seems pretty long to change lanes, slow down, etc. It does show 500 feet for an urban “Decision Sight Distance” to stop from 30 mph.

          The “urban” as opposed to “rural” (or even low occupancy suburban, I think) is a huge factor. In my experience as a driver, it’s much easier and faster to identify a pedestrian (etc) if they are the only thing moving along a street. Throw in more cars, bikes and peds, trolleys, signs and signals and it’s exponentially more complex. But still, identifying and stopping for a pedestrian sure doesn’t seem to take me 500 feet at 30, and I virtually never get near to using the anti-locks.

          And from my view on the pedestrian side, where I cross a 30 mph neighborhood collector (but not urban-complex, fairly simply, usually low/mod volume) every day and–as Ted says, exercise my rights in a traffic-calming way–the problem I see isn’t inability to stop or even having to brake hard, it’s just driver inattention or ignorance of the law (giving them benefit of the doubt that it’s not intentional *cough*). I’m in WA (RCW 46.61.235) so I have to put a foot onto the roadway to assert my rights. Where I cross I have the safety of stepping into bike lanes (not heavily traveled) so I can be very visible without entering into a danger zone. While way too many drivers just blow past (well over half), those who do stop clearly aren’t anywhere near a panic or emergency stop, and that’s even if they’re within a couple of houses (~160 feet based on lot size). They stop well short of me, usually even before the crosswalk on the upstream side of the intersection.

          So, my experience suggests to me that it’s not the “___ Sight Distance” which is the limiting factor, it’s the “Decision” part of the driver/car combo which is overrunning pedestrian rights. In other words, the drivers see me but DECIDE not to obey the law (or don’t know the law, which amounts to the same thing).

          I guess it’s good that ODOT is considering such long distances in designing for pedestrian safety, but I think it’s also a concession by them to poor driver training and habits. I’d like to see improved driver skills be a larger part of public roadway design and use.

          Recommended Thumb up 3

    • sabes January 4, 2013 at 8:51 pm

      Your math is faulty. 3 city blocks to stop for a pedestrian at 30mph? No way, no how. You need probably 100 feet or so to identify a pedestrian and stop a car in going at 30 mph.

      Recommended Thumb up 1

  • daisy January 4, 2013 at 1:47 pm

    “And, did you know you could trigger the crosswalk law by dipping your bike’s wheel into the road?”

    I knew this, but only because I attended one of the bicycling law talks with Ray Thomas. But drivers seem especially blind to cyclists on foot. Folks who will screech to a dangerous stop for pedestrians can’t even seem to recognize those same pedestrians who happen to be walking with a bike.

    Recommended Thumb up 1

    • Craig Harlow January 7, 2013 at 11:32 am

      ‘**NO** motorist knows this, unless they read this blog, or WPC’s–oops, I mean http://oregonwalks.org/.

      Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Sean G January 4, 2013 at 1:58 pm

    As a pedestrian commuter, learning the language of this law has really accelerated my daily commute. Unfortunately most people are not aware of the “every intersection is a crosswalk unless marked otherwise” concept, so care must be taken when crossing at W Burnside and 17th, for example. However knowing I can cross there, and confidently doing so when there’s a car well within safe slowing distance, that has really made life easier.

    Recommended Thumb up 5

    • Spiffy January 4, 2013 at 2:36 pm

      Sean G
      Unfortunately most people are not aware of the “every intersection is a crosswalk unless marked otherwise” concept, so care must be taken when crossing at W Burnside and 17th, for example.

      it’s also bad on SE Foster where there’s a street corner almost every 50 feet, and sometimes three corners in that span, on both sides of the road…

      Recommended Thumb up 2

  • Nikos Tzetos January 4, 2013 at 2:42 pm

    Jonathan,

    How about explaining what constitutes a crosswalk in Portland? I don’t know if things have changed, but all intersections contain crosswalks: the 10 feet closest to the intersection on each street, whether they are marked or unmarked.

    Recommended Thumb up 5

    • John Lascurettes January 4, 2013 at 3:36 pm

      Not just Portland. All of Oregon. Every corner is a crosswalk whether marked or unmarked (except where at an intersection one corner is marked and the other is not).

      I recall that there’s even a provision (but I can’t find reference) that says “midblock” crossings are legal in unmarked areas if the distance between other legal crosswalks is above some threshold (that I can’t remember) in distance.

      Recommended Thumb up 3

  • Sunny January 4, 2013 at 3:14 pm

    moonwalk

    Recommended Thumb up 3

  • q`Tzal January 4, 2013 at 3:42 pm

    If our community’s hyper-involved knowledge base is this confused imagine how little the average automotive driver knows.

    Multiply that level of unintentional ignorance by all your non-biking family, friends and acquaintances.
    Shudder and whimper for your fate.

    Recommended Thumb up 8

  • dwainedibbly January 4, 2013 at 5:47 pm

    Mrs Dibbly & I have had 2 sets of visitors recently: Mom Dibbly in August and a friend from north Florida with her husband & 17 year-old daughter in early Oct. They were all amazed about how polite Portland drivers are, generally, about about stopping for pedestrians. (We do live downtown where drivers are more accustomed to behaving like human beings.) Thinking about it, I have to agree that it is remarkably different than how people drive there.

    Recommended Thumb up 2

  • Ted Buehler January 4, 2013 at 6:03 pm

    When you’re on foot — know your rights. Use them or loose them. Help little old ladies and gents exercise theirs by crossing with them. If you’re an able-bodied youngish person with good reaction times, help calm the streets of Portland by exercising your rights on a regular basis — cross arterials on foot at unsignalized intersections just to help calm the streets.

    When you’re on your bike — know pedestrians’ rights, & help familiarize other peds and bikes by stopping for pedestrians while yelling out “PEDESTRIAN!” so other bikes behind you stop too. & turn your front wheel (or whole bike) a bit sideways so pedestrians and bikes behind you know you’re not going to commence forward movement without straightening your wheel first.

    Thanks for covering this, Jonathan, and thanks to all who got the law rewritten a couple years ago.

    My $0.02
    Ted Buehler

    Recommended Thumb up 9

    • Ted Buehler January 5, 2013 at 12:28 pm

      &, of course, if you want to help calm Portland streets by crossing them legally, never ever ever put yourself in a position where you can’t jump out of the way with a bit of time to spare if someone fails to yield!

      Ted Buehler

      Recommended Thumb up 2

      • Ted Buehler January 5, 2013 at 12:32 pm

        Like, don’t be
        * distracted
        * a bit sick, so you can’t move so fast
        * don’t play chicken
        etc.
        Be smart. Easy to forget if you feel like a crusader…

        &, don’t be an ass. Don’t jump out in front of traffic just because you can. The only time I’ve gotten cussed out in Portland as a pedestrian was when I stepped out in front of a bicyclist without even pausing at the curb. He was like “WTF? Why don’t you wait your turn?” Which I figured was a somewhat valid point, and now I at least pause a bit at curbs at arterials on cross-town foot travel. FWIW.

        Recommended Thumb up 3

      • Brian January 7, 2013 at 9:02 am

        The best way to calm streets, if you happen to find yourself in the drivers seat is to be a pacecar driver.
        http://www.slcdocs.com/transportation/TrafficManagement/PDF/pace2000.pdf

        Recommended Thumb up 3

        • Spiffy January 8, 2013 at 12:43 pm

          makes me wish I had a car so I could put that logo in the back window…

          Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Doug January 4, 2013 at 7:46 pm

    And it should be noted that drivers (and riders) are required to stop for all pedestrians, not just those wearing reflective clothing or blinking lights. To do this requires drivers at night to proceed slower than the speed limit on some streets (like Powell), especially if they’re not lit well enough to notice pedestrians until the driver’s headlights illuminate them. Drivers should not be driving “beyond their lights”.

    Recommended Thumb up 9

  • Bill Stites January 5, 2013 at 12:07 am

    For safety’s sake, I hope folks will consider dismounting from their bikes when wanting to exercise crosswalk rights, esp. at unmarked crosswalks.
    Consider that some of the most dangerous situations arise when both parties think they have the right of way: a cyclist rolls into the street in an unmarked crosswalk feeling empowered by the law, and a motorist is cruising along also feeling the right of way by interpreting the cyclist as a vehicle which has to wait to cross. It’s a formula for disaster. We all can be stubborn at times about exerting [what we believe is] our right of way … it’s a game of chicken.
    Dismounting gets you to look and behave like a pedestrian, and motorists will be much more amenable to respecting the crosswalk laws for you.
    It’s one of those odd scenarios where, as a cyclist, you are safer by shapeshifting into a royal pedestrian.

    Recommended Thumb up 6

    • Craig Harlow January 7, 2013 at 11:36 am

      I do this when crossing MLK at unsignalized crossings– I begin by pushing my bike wheel further and further into the intersection until, at last, some exasperated motorist comes to a begrudging halt. Then it’s Frogger across the remaining lanes.

      Recommended Thumb up 1

    • Spiffy January 8, 2013 at 12:46 pm

      also, if you’re on your bike while on the sidewalk it sometimes looks like you’re in the road and thus don’t have the right of way…

      it’s happened to me a few times where I would have stopped had I known that the bike was on the sidewalk but from the approach it looks like they’re on the road…

      I just try to stay off the sidewalks…

      Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Mabsf January 5, 2013 at 12:34 pm

    I am confused about the crosswalk/bike thing: At Belmont and 33rd, 33rd has a “Stop” sign, but there is a (much abused) marked cross walk on Belmont…So if I would be on the cross walk with my bike the cars would have to stop, if I am on the street, I would have to wait?

    Recommended Thumb up 2

    • Craig Harlow January 7, 2013 at 11:25 am

      Yes, and yes. Stops signs are nullified in the presence of an sidewalk user’s attempt to cross at a marked crosswalk or unmarked corner.

      Recommended Thumb up 1

  • jim January 5, 2013 at 1:57 pm

    If a bike is at an intersection they have to wait for traffic to clear before they cross if they are in the traffic lane. If they come to an intersection and move over to the crosswalk the cars should have to stop for them. Some of the crossings like where Going street bike path crosses MLK is not a crosswalk so cars do not have to stop for those, unless the bike is in the crosswalk.

    Recommended Thumb up 1

  • jim January 5, 2013 at 2:00 pm

    Bikes have to enter the crosswalk at a walking speed also. If they roll out at a biking speed it is not fair to the driver to stop for something happening too fast.

    Recommended Thumb up 1

  • Craig Harlow January 7, 2013 at 9:45 am

    Whatever the hell the law is for crossing at the corner (or crosswalk), motorists simply do not know it. Having the law on the books will help a creamed crosswalker recover damages in court, but it does jack-squat to change motorist behavior. When will the state, or this city for that matter, inform its citizens of changes in the law–particularly those changes that have critical safety impact? I’m feel I should start “extending into the roadway” my freaking baseball bat. Not joking.

    Recommended Thumb up 4

    • Craig Harlow January 7, 2013 at 10:25 am

      I apologize for the rant. I’m worked up over this. I’m used to cars not slowing or stopping when I have both feet off the curb, and place myself at the edge of the parking lane. But I was nearly hit on Saturday while crossing Fremont at NE 19th, by a car that was a full block away when I started. It was wet, and when I was about five feet into the roadway, I realized that car was speeding and wasn’t slowing down (the limit there is 30, and they seemed to be doing above 45). Instinct told me to rush ahead out of the way, when I saw that another car coming from the opposite direction also wasn’t slowing, cutting off my forward escape. I quickly scramble backward, lucky not to slip on the wet pavement. Neither car slowed in the least, and I only missed being hit by a matter of about two feet.

      My son’s million-dollar idea is a handheld reflective fabric crosswalk sign that telescopes out from a collapsible umbrella mechanism. My only addition would be a freshly cut house key, welded to the end of it.

      Recommended Thumb up 6

      • jim January 8, 2013 at 10:22 am

        North and northeast there are some people driving that shouldn’t be. They think it is a God given right to drive and a cultural right to drive any way they please. Due vigilance is necessary for survival. Insurance rates are also higher in these parts of town.

        Recommended Thumb up 0

      • scott January 13, 2013 at 2:19 am

        Why not wait til it was safe to cross. One of the first things my grandma taught me was to not walk into the path of moving cars or bicycles. I just wait until I can cross without slowing anyone else down. If someone stops for me and it is clear then I will cross. I f no one wants to stop then I just wait til there is a break in traffic. Portland pedestrians seem to have the attitude that the world revolves around them. I have never seen so many pedestrians walk right out into the street without looking as I have here in Portland.

        Recommended Thumb up 2

    • Spiffy January 8, 2013 at 12:51 pm

      if it wasn’t for the extra weight I’d carry small rocks in my pockets to toss on the cars that don’t stop as they go by… legally they aren’t supposed to be there because they’re supposed to be stopped, and there’s no law against throwing a small rock into the road…

      Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Craig Harlow January 7, 2013 at 11:28 am

    El Biciclero
    Actually, when using a crosswalk on your bike, you are only required to enter the crosswalk at no greater than an ordinary walking pace–and only if motor vehicles are approaching. Once in the crosswalk there is no speed requirement, only the requirement to audibly warn pedestrians before passing them.
    Recommended 5

    Right: the primary issue being not to “constitute an immediate hazard” upon entering the crosswalk from the sidewalk.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • dwainedibbly January 7, 2013 at 6:05 pm

    The closest I’ve come to getting hit was crossing SW Market at Park, northbound, returning home from the PSU Farmers’ Market, by a streetcar. It was at least a block away when I started and I swear it accelerated. I understand that those things can’t stop quickly but it would have been nice if the driver (pilot? captain? helmsman?) had at least let off the pedal. I had enough time to get across the street, but it was close enough that one stumble and Mrs Dibbly would be retiring on a big legal payout.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

- Daily bike news since 2005 -
BikePortland.org is a production of
PedalTown Media Inc.
321 SW 4th Ave, Ste. 401
Portland, OR 97204

Powered by WordPress. Theme by Clemens Orth.
Subscribe to RSS feed


Original images and content owned by Pedaltown Media, Inc. - Not to be used without permission.