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  #1  
Old 05-27-2012, 04:35 PM
Suburban Suburban is offline
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Default Bike Law/ORS 815.280

Question: If a bicycle is being operated on a city sidewalk at a walking speed, after dark, and with due care, must that bicycle be fitted with a front light?

Anyone want to take a stab?
see 814.410, 815.280,
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Old 05-27-2012, 08:30 PM
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wsbob wsbob is offline
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First of all, links to the text of 814.410 and 815.280:

814.410
Unsafe operation of bicycle on sidewalk.oregonlaws.org

Though its clear in other elements of this particular law that safety with regards to pedestrians is one of its objectives, ORS 814.410 doesn't say anything about lights on bikes.
815.280
Violation of bicycle equipment requirements.oregonlaws.org

ORS 815.280 doesn't say anything about bike equipment requirements specifically where bikes are used on sidewalks, but part two of this law says:

"...(2) A bicycle is operated in violation of the requirements of this section if any of the following requirements are violated:

(skipping parts of the law not having to do with lighting...)

...(c) At the times described in the following, a bicycle or its rider must be equipped with lighting equipment that meets the described requirements:

(A) The lighting equipment must be used during limited visibility conditions.

(B) The lighting equipment must show a white light visible from a distance of at least 500 feet to the front of the bicycle.

(C) The lighting equipment must have a red reflector or lighting device or material of such size or characteristic and so mounted as to be visible from all distances up to 600 feet to the rear when directly in front of lawful lower beams of headlights on a motor vehicle. ..."

Reading certain of the provisions above from ORS 815.280 suggests that they were specified with highway (*) use in mind, rather than sidewalks. Provisions first up in part two of the law though, state clearly that bike lighting equipment must be used in limited visibility conditions. Despite specific mention of bikes being equipped for lighting when ridden on sidewalks, safety being a fundamental objective of ORS 815.280, I'd consider the law to apply to bikes used on sidewalks, whatever the speed traveled.


* (which by the way, is about any road or street, rather than exclusively some high speed thoroughfare or freeway.)

My experience living in what's basically an urban area of Beaverton, has been that bikes without lights on the sidewalk after dark represent a considerable potential hazard, even when moving at walking speed. A greater hazard than people simply walking or running. Bikes on the sidewalk can be very hard to see because they generally produce less movement and noise than people do when traveling on foot. Lights help a lot.
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Old 05-29-2012, 08:20 AM
Suburban Suburban is offline
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Default The crux

I guess the part I don't understatnd is:
Does the language in 815.280,1,a mentioning "Highway" qualify the
815,280,2 mentioning lighting equipment?

I believe it does, otherwise, I would need a light on my bike in every other place, including parks, private property etc. A narrow reading, I admit.

I rode through Beaverton 2 weeks ago to make a more interesting ride to the Hagg Lake area. It was certainly more interesting!
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Old 05-29-2012, 09:35 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Suburban View Post
I guess the part I don't understatnd is:
Does the language in 815.280,1,a mentioning "Highway" qualify the
815,280,2 mentioning lighting equipment?

I believe it does, otherwise, I would need a light on my bike in every other place, including parks, private property etc. A narrow reading, I admit.

I rode through Beaverton 2 weeks ago to make a more interesting ride to the Hagg Lake area. It was certainly more interesting!

Suburban...I guess you're asking if part (1) of the law is a condition that restricts it's application to use of a bike only on a street, road, highway, etc. I suppose it is. I think I may have been trying to too hard to work up a point of view that people riding bikes on sidewalks and other places where people walk, should have their bikes illuminated so other people can see them.

Would a police officer think he should write a citation for someone he saw riding a bike on the sidewalk after dark? Probably not. If someone walking on the sidewalk somehow collided with a person riding a bike without lights after dark, on a sidewalk, would the cop have to issue a citation to the person riding? Probably not just for violation of ORS 815.280. Maybe something else though.

I'd imagine the people that wrote the law at the time really never envisioned or anticipated situations other than streets and roads, where the implications of bikes being used there might be so significant the law should require people's bikes to have lighting equipment. For example, you mentioned parks. How about the Springwater Corridor MUP? That may be a park. In that setting, I wonder if the police would issue citations for people not running lights on their bikes after dark.

Last edited by wsbob; 05-29-2012 at 09:54 AM.
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Old 05-29-2012, 10:19 AM
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lynnef lynnef is offline
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on no lights in the dark on, say, the Springwater... I know someone who was riding on the Fanno Creek Trail WITH LIGHTS after dark. Except he went around one of the blind curves, and encountered a couple of unlit (drunk) cyclists.

His arm was interestingly broken.

(because I am crabby and irritated today) how about just getting some lights and not worrying about the letter of the law? Some time you'll be out after dark, and you'll want to ride the bike, rather than walk it. Best to be prepared and safe, both for yourself and for others.
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Old 05-29-2012, 11:20 AM
Alan Alan is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lynnef View Post
how about just getting some lights and not worrying about the letter of the law?
What Lynne said! A $20-$25 set of lights provides a huge advantage in safety, both to others and to yourself. Not using lights to ride at night is just plain dumb.

As far as ORS themselves (and a city might have additional laws which apply), let's start with some basic definitions:

http://www.leg.state.or.us/ors/801.html
801.305 “Highway.” (1) “Highway” means every public way, road, street, thoroughfare and place, including bridges, viaducts and other structures within the boundaries of this state, open, used or intended for use of the general public for vehicles or vehicular traffic as a matter of right.

801.590 “Vehicle.” “Vehicle” means any device in, upon or by which any person or property is or may be transported or drawn upon a public highway and includes vehicles that are propelled or powered by any means.
So, a bicycle operated on the sidewalk is, by those definitions, a vehicle operated on a highway. From that starting point, ORS 815.280 (cited above) means bikes on sidewalks need lights. Also note that 815.280 (1)(b) stipulates that parents who allow their kids to bike "ninja" style are also violating that law. IANAL, I don't know if there's case law or other interpretation on it, but that's my common-sense reading of it.
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Old 05-29-2012, 12:24 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Alan View Post
What Lynne said! A $20-$25 set of lights provides a huge advantage in safety, both to others and to yourself. Not using lights to ride at night is just plain dumb.

As far as ORS themselves (and a city might have additional laws which apply), let's start with some basic definitions:

http://www.leg.state.or.us/ors/801.html
801.305 “Highway.” (1) “Highway” means every public way, road, street, thoroughfare and place, including bridges, viaducts and other structures within the boundaries of this state, open, used or intended for use of the general public for vehicles or vehicular traffic as a matter of right.

801.590 “Vehicle.” “Vehicle” means any device in, upon or by which any person or property is or may be transported or drawn upon a public highway and includes vehicles that are propelled or powered by any means.
So, a bicycle operated on the sidewalk is, by those definitions, a vehicle operated on a highway. From that starting point, ORS 815.280 (cited above) means bikes on sidewalks need lights. Also note that 815.280 (1)(b) stipulates that parents who allow their kids to bike "ninja" style are also violating that law. IANAL, I don't know if there's case law or other interpretation on it, but that's my common-sense reading of it.

Alan...good one. Both those two laws you brought up seem to me to put bikes within criteria that would require them to be equipped with lighting after dark, whether it be on a sidewalk, park, and other places.

Even so, except for the street, people riding bikes without lighting after dark on sidewalks or in the park doesn't seem like something the police probably would be going after.

The dyno hub light system would be perfect for many people needing basic bike transportation in city. Dyno lights eliminate the forget to charge, forget to replace batteries excuse. It would cost more to equip them with a hub dyno, but cheap department store bikes that many people use for basic transportation might be worthy candidates for some kind of Chinese whupped together low cost dyno hub equipped bike.

Last edited by wsbob; 05-29-2012 at 12:36 PM.
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Old 05-29-2012, 01:18 PM
Suburban Suburban is offline
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Default good ideas vs. good laws

The topic was never "are lights a good idea, practical, useful or courteous." I am interested in the letter of the law. I roll with a Lumotech IQ.
814.410
http://www.oregonlaws.org/ors/814.410
leaves some discretion to a cop or court to decide if dark riding (at a walking pace, and with due care) is either careless and likely to cause bad things.... or it it is the same as a pedestrian, who is not required to have a light.
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Old 05-29-2012, 01:56 PM
Alan Alan is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Suburban View Post
http://www.oregonlaws.org/ors/814.410
leaves some discretion to a cop or court to decide if dark riding (at a walking pace, and with due care) is either careless and likely to cause bad things.... or it it is the same as a pedestrian, who is not required to have a light.
814.410 (2):
(2) 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.
Note that exception! ORS 815.280 (2)(c)(B) otherwise specifically provides:
(B) The lighting equipment must show a white light visible from a distance of at least 500 feet to the front of the bicycle.
*shrug* Sounds to me like the law says bikes need lights at night ("during limited visibility conditions"), even on sidewalks.
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Old 05-29-2012, 02:31 PM
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wsbob wsbob is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Suburban View Post
The topic was never "are lights a good idea, practical, useful or courteous." I am interested in the letter of the law. I roll with a Lumotech IQ.
814.410
http://www.oregonlaws.org/ors/814.410
leaves some discretion to a cop or court to decide if dark riding (at a walking pace, and with due care) is either careless and likely to cause bad things.... or it it is the same as a pedestrian, who is not required to have a light.
Sorry...with some subjects, it's easy to get off topic.

ORS 814.410 itself, doesn't say anything specifically about lighting equipment required for bikes used after dark. ORS 814.410 (1)(c) of that law, which is probably the area you're referring to, says: "(c) Operates a bicycle on a sidewalk in a careless manner that endangers or would be likely to endanger any person or property.". You're asking: " ... (if dark riding at a walking pace, and with due care) is either careless and likely to cause bad things...or is it the same as a pedestrian, who is not required to have a light".

I guess the letter of the law is kind of murky and/or contradictory on this. On the one hand, bikes are considered to be vehicles required to be equipped with lighting for use on "... every public way, road, street, thoroughfare and place, including bridges, viaducts and other structures...". Are sidewalks considered to be one of the aforementioned types?

On the other hand, people are allowed to ride bikes on sidewalks, : "ORS 814.410(2) 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.

For someone to make a solid claim that a bike ridden on the sidewalk after dark under the conditions you've specified...needs lighting equipment, they'd probably have to have been subjected to something that met the 'careless manner' provision of ORS 814.410 (1) (c). They'd have to prove that the bike somehow wasn't being ridden as you put it, with due care.
"...

801.305 “Highway.” (1) “Highway” means every public way, road, street, thoroughfare and place, including bridges, viaducts and other structures within the boundaries of this state, open, used or intended for use of the general public for vehicles or vehicular traffic as a matter of right.

801.590 “Vehicle.” “Vehicle” means any device in, upon or by which any person or property is or may be transported or drawn upon a public highway and includes vehicles that are propelled or powered by any means. ..."
I'd say Alan's right to suggest the letter of the law(s) mean bikes on sidewalks after dark had better have lights. However, it's likely to be an injured or irked citizen, and eventually a judge that's probably going to have coax out that determination from the law, rather than a cop rolling by seeing some goof riding ninja after dark on a bike on the sidewalk.

Because its not like common knowledge the way lights on cars are, and to large degree the way lights on bikes are, I think there are plenty of people to whom it doesn't even occur that the letter of the law might oblige them to use bike lights for riding on the sidewalk in the dark.

One would think common sense would be enough, but the response from someone on their bike on the sidewalk, not running lights after dark might likely be on the order of:
'Why man!? What's the big deal? I'm on the sidewalk, not the street. There's no cars on the sidewalk. If there's anyone walking, I can see them. I'm being careful.'

* By the way: Suburban...Seems that those of us having responded to your question made an earnest effort to work up some answers. Have you thought about relating whatever experience it was that prompted you to ask the question. Got a feeling it was something to do with what you mentioned about your trip through Beaverton from Hagg Lake, being interesting.

Also...As for the law being unclear or murky...it's not written in stone. It's subject to change. Oregon legislature meets for its full session next January. For the safety of other sidewalk users a person riding a bike on the sidewalk might encounter in the kind of close proximity existing on most of them, should bikes be required to run some kind of light for sidewalk riding after dark? Not the brightness level of lights used on the street, but something with a lower level of illumination, such as parking lights on motor vehicles?

Last edited by wsbob; 05-30-2012 at 11:03 AM.
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