Who says its “safe and reasonable” for bicycle use?
(Photo © J. Maus/BikePortland)
On August 13th, the City Council of Roseburg (about 170 miles south of Portland) will attempt to take a rare step toward strengthening the Oregon law mandating use of a bike lane (a.k.a. the mandatory sidepath law). That law, ORS 814.420, mandates that if a bike lane is present it must be used.
While the law is rarely enforced, its vague language lends itself to confusion and controversy. While it mandates use of a bike lane, it also includes many exceptions to the rule. Oregonians are allowed to leave the bike lane to pass another rider, to prepare for a left turn, to avoid debris, and so on. But, legally speaking, the most problematic language in the statute is this:
A person is not required to comply with this section unless the state or local authority with jurisdiction over the roadway finds, after public hearing, that the bicycle lane or bicycle path is suitable for safe bicycle use at reasonable rates of speed.
In a nutshell, if you got a citation for not using the bike lane, you could simply demand proof that a public hearing had been held. If such proof couldn’t be provided, it seems as though the judge have to dismiss the ticket. Police officers in Roseburg want to make sure no more people on bikes can roll through that loophole. (more…)