You’re freewheeling along on your bike. There’s been a change in the weather. The day is dry and it’s even warm enough to drop a layer. The ride just couldn’t be better. And then it happens. The approaching school bus has pulled to the curb just ahead.
Now, with lights ablaze and its stop sign thrust out tauntingly, almost a dare, do you obey or ignore?
Here’s the relevant Oregon statute for this situation:
811.155: Failure to stop for bus safety lights; penalty.
(1) A driver commits the offense of failure to stop for bus safety lights if the driver meets or overtakes from either direction any vehicle that is stopped on a roadway and that is operating red bus safety lights described under ORS 816.260 and the driver does not:
- (a) Stop before reaching the vehicle; and
(b) Remain standing until the bus safety lights are no longer operating.
(*Note: the above statute does not apply to a driver when the bus is stopped on a different roadway, e.g. divided highway)
But, the beauty of bicycling in many Oregon cities is the ease of morphing from having the rights and duties of a motorist to that of a pedestrian. If you choose to get around the bus via the sidewalk — the designated safe haven of pedestrians — you’ll be presented with a different set of challenges.
On the sidewalk (as per ORS 814.410), you must:
- give an audible signal when overtaking and passing a pedestrian and yield right-of-way to all pedestrians on the sidewalk.
- slow to a walking speed when approaching or entering a crosswalk and/or driveway, or when crossing a curb cut or pedestrian ramp when a motor vehicle is approaching.
- not operate your bicycle in a careless manner that endangers or would likely endanger any person or property.
- not operate an electric assisted bicycle.
If you find yourself behind a school bus in Portland’s downtown core, you may want to think twice about rolling onto the sidewalk, because It’s illegal to do so downtown (unless avoiding a traffic hazard; and sorry, a stopped school bus isn’t considered a traffic hazard). The illegal sidewalk riding area is bounded by and including SW Jefferson, Front Avenue, NW Hoyt and 13th Avenue (there are some exceptions, see Portland Code and Charter Chapter 16.70.320).
Of course you can ignore the law and continue on without stopping at all. But, if you accept the option to sit out the delay, it may give you time to wonder about the intent of the school bus law. After all it’s meant to keep children safe as they cross the street or congregate around the bus. Despite the personal inconvenience of waiting, the letter of the law may be important here because as a living, breathing distraction in the landscape, you are probably being observed by some of the kids on the bus. These are the future cyclists of America and you, standing by, are serving as a role model.
It isn’t often you are given the opportunity to do the right thing so easily and impress a very impressionable audience at the same time. Maybe it’s worth a couple minutes of standing still.