The Portland Police Bureau Traffic Division just released a series of videos to debunk what they call “the top five most common traffic myths.” All the videos could apply to people riding bicycles and one of them is targeted specifically at bike traffic.
The PPB says the videos cover issues that officers frequently hear as excuses when citations are issued. The videos are narrated by PPB Traffic Division Sergeant Bret Barnum. Along with the videos, Sgt. Barnum shares the specific Oregon Revised Statute (ORS) that goes along with them.
Here they are:
#1 “The light was yellow; I thought I could speed up and make it through.”
ORS 811.265 – Failure to Obey a Traffic Control Device requires vehicles to stop at a yellow light just as they would for a red light. A vehicle may only proceed through a yellow light if they cannot stop safety.
#2 “As a pedestrian, I always have the right of way over motor vehicles.”
ORS 811.005 – Duty to Exercise Due Care requires pedestrians to exercise care when entering onto a roadway.
From the video:
A pedestrian can’t just walk out in front of a vehicle approaching without some notice. All too often we see this with people out exercising. Joggers approach a corner or crosswalk, and continue to run across the street as vehicles approach. Although runners don’t like to interrupt their workouts, it’s important to note; vehicles most likely can’t stop in time when the runner suddenly appears in front of them. It’s much safer for a pedestrian to stop in an attempt to ensure the motorist can visually see you.
#3 “I can ride my bicycle on a sidewalk just the same as riding on the street.”
ORS 814.410 – Unsafe Operation of a Bicycle on a Sidewalk requires a bicyclist to operate at no faster than a walking pace when passing any pedestrian. The bicyclist also needs to give an audible warning when passing. In addition, a bicyclist on a sidewalk, needs to slow to no more than a walking pace when crossing a driveway entrance or exit; or when the bicyclist leaves the sidewalk into the roadway or at a crosswalk.
# 4: “I can use the left turn lane (or designated center turn lane), as a merging lane or a lane of travel to get up to my anticipated turning point.”
ORS 811.346 Misuse of Special Left Turn Lane requires a vehicle to use the continuous left turn lane only for turning into, or out of a driveway. However, you can use this lane to turn from a driveway in order to merge into a driving lane of traffic as long as you stop and remain stopped prior to merging with traffic. Using the lane to pass traffic in order to reach your turning point is against the law.
#5 “Slowing down or moving a lane away from stopped emergency vehicles is only a courtesy and not a law”
ORS 811.147 Failure to Maintain Safe Distance from Emergency Vehicles requires motorists to make a lane change away from an emergency vehicle–this includes police, fire, ambulances, roadside assistance vehicles, and tow vehicles.
It’s good to see some education efforts coming out of the PPB. These officers probably get sick and tired of explaining the ORS to people they pull over.