Support BikePortland

Get Legal with Ray Thomas: Passing on the right from a rider’s perspective

Posted by on March 12th, 2015 at 12:30 pm

A ride with the family-3

Knowing how to legally pass on the
right can help you get to your destination
faster and help you breathe easier.
(Photo by J. Maus/BikePortland)

Today’s article will try to clear up confusion about how and when you are legally permitted to pass another vehicle operator on the right side of the roadway.

While Oregon law did not specifically authorize passing on the right before 2006, the law was clarified that year to follow the great majority of other states (and the Uniform Vehicle Code) in specifically allowing bicycle riders to pass other vehicles on the right when it can be done safely.

Bicycle riders complained for many years about the pre-2006 Oregon law that appeared to prohibit passing on the right when road users were sharing the same lane. In 2005, the Oregon legislature (thanks to lobbying by the Bicycle Transportation Alliance) voted to change the law so that passing on the right would be allowed “if the overtaking vehicle is a bicycle that may safely make the passage under the existing conditions” (ORS 811.415). The “new” law went into effect in January of 2006.

Here are the main points of the law that didn’t change in 2006:

  • You are permitted to pass on the right when a vehicle is in the same lane and turning left, so long as you (the passer) do not go off of the paved roadway in order to get around them.
  • Passing on the right in a bicycle lane (which is a separate lane from the regular traffic lane) is also allowed; but, as with all maneuvers, it must be done with “due care.”

Advertisement

  • A bicycle rider may also leave the bicycle lane to pass “if the person is able to safely move out… for the purpose of passing another bicycle, a vehicle or a pedestrian” and “passage cannot safely be made in the lane” (as per ORS 814.420(3)(a)).
  • While riding your bicycle you are entitled to pass other vehicles (just like drivers do) even when a bicycle lane is not present. (Note that ORS 811.410 prohibits the overtaken vehicle from speeding up until they are completely passed.)

Here’s a closer look at the 2006 law:

Unsafe Passing on the Right.
SECTION 1.
811.415. (1) A person commits the offense of unsafe passing on the right if the person:
(a) Drives a vehicle to overtake and pass upon the right of another vehicle at any time not permitted under this section.
(b) Drives a vehicle to overtake and pass upon the right of another vehicle at any time by driving off the paved portion of the highway.

(2) For purposes of this section, a person may drive a vehicle to overtake and pass upon the right of another vehicle under any of the following circumstances:
(a) Overtaking and passing upon the right is permitted if:
(A) The overtaken vehicle is making or the driver has signaled an intention to make a left turn;
(B) The paved portion of the highway is of sufficient width to allow two or more lanes of vehicles
to proceed lawfully in the same direction as the overtaking vehicle; and
(C) The roadway ahead of the overtaking vehicle is unobstructed for a sufficient distance to permit passage by the overtaking vehicle to be made in safety.
(b) Overtaking and passing upon the right is permitted if the overtaken vehicle is proceeding along a roadway in the left lane of two or more clearly marked lanes allocated exclusively to vehicular traffic moving in the same direction as the overtaking driver.
(c) Overtaking and passing upon the right is permitted if the overtaking vehicle is a bicycle
that may safely make the passage under the existing conditions.

(3) The offense described in this section, unsafe passing on the right, is a Class B traffic violation.

In application, the 2006 law allows safe passing on the right which helps to make the flow of traffic smoother, and keeps bicycle riders from being stuck behind a line of exhaust-spewing motor vehicles.

Oregon law allowing bicycles to pass on the right is not unusual. The nationally recognized Uniform Vehicle Code Section 11-304(b) states that: “The driver of a vehicle may overtake and pass another vehicle upon the right only under conditions permitting such movement in safety.” With the changes in 2006, Oregon merely joined the great majority of other states that allowed the maneuver.

While it is possible to describe ways that passing on the right can be performed in an unsafe manner, the purpose of the law is to allow bicycle riders to move safely with and through traffic. A bicycle’s narrow footprint (relative to a car) allows the rider to fully utilize the standard width traffic lane and improve the roadway’s capacity to move traffic.

Thankfully, the law supports this common sense maneuver — but a law does no good if you don’t understand it and put it into action.

Browse our Get Legal with Ray Thomas story archives to learn more about Oregon bike law.

Disclaimer: This article is part of a paid promotional partnership between BikePortland.org and Swanson, Thomas, Coon & Newton.

Please support BikePortland.

NOTE: We love your comments and work hard to ensure they are productive, considerate, and welcoming of all perspectives. Disagreements are encouraged, but only if done with tact and respect. If you see a mean or inappropriate comment, please contact us and we'll take a look at it right away. Also, if you comment frequently, please consider holding your thoughts so that others can step forward. Thank you — Jonathan

80 Comments
  • Avatar
    9watts March 12, 2015 at 12:46 pm

    We’ll see. I have a court date a week from today to defend myself against this very thing.
    I received a $260 citation for filtering forward (to the right of the left turning traffic) southbound at SE Chavez at Powell. All southbound lanes were full of stopped cars (thus in my interpretation we’re talking about filtering forward rather than lane splitting). The policeman did not see me do this but he did pull over a person in an SUV who ran the red light from the southbound left turn lane. He blamed his red light running on me, so the cop gave us both $260 tickets for good measure.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

    • Avatar
      Fallaballa March 12, 2015 at 1:09 pm

      confusing scenario here… you were in between the left turn lane and the lefthand side southbound lane? were you also turning left?

      Recommended Thumb up 0

      • Avatar
        9watts March 12, 2015 at 1:44 pm

        correct.

        Recommended Thumb up 0

    • Avatar
      Alan Love March 12, 2015 at 1:16 pm

      How in the world could you have “forced” the driver to run a red light? Anything to get out of a ticket, I guess…

      Recommended Thumb up 0

    • Avatar
      soren March 12, 2015 at 1:48 pm

      Did the officer actually cite you for filtering? The only statute that addresses filtering specifically targets motorcycles.

      Recommended Thumb up 0

      • Avatar
        9watts March 12, 2015 at 1:53 pm

        He was clearly unaware of any 2006 changes to the law (as was I at that moment), and took a rather belligerent tone with me saying ‘if you want to bike on 39th (I sure as hell wouldn’t) then you are a vehicle, and as a vehicle you need to act like a vehicle.’

        Based on his statements I was under the impression that for him *any* passing on the right by anyone for any reason was a violation of ORS 811.415.

        Recommended Thumb up 0

        • Avatar
          soren March 12, 2015 at 2:03 pm

          Well that is a first.

          Recommended Thumb up 0

          • Avatar
            9watts March 12, 2015 at 10:50 pm

            Maybe. Or maybe not.
            http://bikeportland.org/forum/showthread.php?t=3639

            Recommended Thumb up 0

            • Avatar
              RonC March 16, 2015 at 5:27 pm

              Hey, my old case surfaces! I never got to argue it because the citing officer never showed up in court. (The case was tossed.) If you and no one else was hurt, I would say you safely passed and what you did was perfectly legal. I was prepared to argue that point. Needing to turn left, I was positioned in the safest possible position given the conditions, on the right side of left-turning traffic. Good luck in court! You should be fine.

              Recommended Thumb up 0

              • Avatar
                9watts March 16, 2015 at 7:24 pm

                Indeed.
                Thanks for piping up here. I’d hoped you would.

                Recommended Thumb up 0

              • Avatar
                RonC May 22, 2015 at 11:22 am

                Looking forward to getting an update on how your appearance in court went!

                Recommended Thumb up 0

              • Avatar
                9watts May 22, 2015 at 1:26 pm

                Thanks, RonC
                my update has been in moderation for a few hours. So with any luck it should be posted fairly soon. Maybe it was too many words?

                Recommended Thumb up 0

        • Avatar
          John Lascurettes March 12, 2015 at 5:28 pm

          As a tangentially related aside, there has been an bill introduced that would allow for motorcycle filtering: http://www.reddit.com/r/Portland/comments/2usfrv/a_motorcycle_lane_sharing_bill_has_been/

          Recommended Thumb up 0

    • Avatar
      Kyle March 12, 2015 at 2:51 pm

      I fail to see how a bicyclist legally passing vehicles to the right within the same lane is responsible for a driver running a red light…

      Recommended Thumb up 0

    • Avatar
      Pete March 12, 2015 at 8:31 pm

      Hey 9watts, best of luck in your defense, and I for one would really to hear how this turns out. Please report back what happened, and we’ll cross our fingers in the meantime.

      Recommended Thumb up 0

    • Avatar
      El Biciclero March 13, 2015 at 9:24 am

      I’ll try this again; most of my comments lately are either moderated or get me an “Error”.

      The question of the hour is whether it is legal for a bicyclist to pass on the right and on the left at the same time. Does “passing on the right” imply that such passing only takes place to the right of the outside lane?

      I suppose that you could claim that you were not violating the statute on unsafe passing on the left (811.410), as you never encroached on the left side of the center of the roadway, and you never left an authorized lane of travel, although a prosecutor could argue that you did not pass “at a safe distance”. You could further claim that you were not violating the statute on unsafe passing on the right (811.415), since you were on a bicycle and you could safely make the passage. The only thing left would be to figure out whether the prohibition on “lane splitting” by “motorcycles or mopeds” (814.240) applies to bicycles as well, but since the language is so specific as to mention particular types of vehicles (not just “vehicles” or “motor vehicles”), bicycles not among them, extension of the prohibition to bicycles is not necessarily implicit. If I’m not careful, I might convince myself to change my opinion on the legality of “filtering”… Which statute did the officer claim you violated?

      But it seems that if the driver isn’t there on the same day and called as a witness in your case, there is no evidence that you did anything. I’ll be very interested to find out the outcome of your case.

      Recommended Thumb up 0

      • Avatar
        9watts March 13, 2015 at 10:47 am

        “You could further claim that you were not violating the statute on unsafe passing on the right (811.415), since you were on a bicycle and you could safely make the passage.”

        That was going to be my approach.

        “Which statute did the officer claim you violated?”

        ORS 811.415

        Recommended Thumb up 0

      • Avatar
        soren June 9, 2015 at 7:24 am

        The question of the hour is whether it is legal for a bicyclist to pass on the right and on the left at the same time.

        The ORS explicitly allows cyclists to share lanes and to pass on the left or right. Generally when something is not illegal, it’s not illegal.

        Recommended Thumb up 0

    • Avatar
      Pete March 25, 2015 at 9:55 pm

      Well, what happened?? Did you win? (fingers crossed)…

      Recommended Thumb up 0

      • Avatar
        9watts March 26, 2015 at 3:31 am

        Thanks for asking, Pete. I had meant to follow up here. Not being familiar with the sequence of events in traffic court I had misunderstood the date last Thursday to be my ‘court date,’ when in fact it was my opportunity to plead not guilty at one of those windows where you and all the other miscreants cue up. I have since been assigned an actual court date (May 22). So at this point I have little else to report. But I certainly will.

        Recommended Thumb up 0

      • Avatar
        9watts May 22, 2015 at 12:00 pm

        Well today I had my day in court.
        The officer showed up. He called me aside before the proceedings got underway and offered to dismiss the ticket if I agreed to take a traffic safety course and plead no contest.
        I’ve been thinking about this for three months, and also got some great advice from our friends in Mark Ginsberg’s office along the way about how traffic court works. He prepared me for an outcome like this, the opportunity to save face for both sides. I was initially disinclined to take this route, chiefly because I like the idea of justice, of getting my ‘day in court,’ of setting the record straight, etc. Plea deals have always seemed like a bureaucratic end run around the mighty principles at stake, a pragmatic compromise.

        The issue before us (the officer had I could tell read up on ORS 811.415 in the meantime) was, chiefly, whether the judge would be persuaded that my passing on the right under those circumstances had been safe, or not. The guy who ran the red light was not present today, and the officer had not seen me do anything that day, had only given me the ticket fifteen minutes later based on statements by the other guy (that I had clipped him with my trailer while passing; he then ran the light so as to have words with me about this–but there was no physical confirmation of my having done so, even though the three of us examined his vehicle for evidence at the time). So I felt I had a pretty good case and was prepared to argue this today.

        But I also learned that whether I ‘win’ or lose, or plead no contest and take a traffic safety course, has no effect whatsoever on any future citations of this kind; no precedent is set if I were to win this by sticking my neck out in an attempt to argue in front of the judge that my behavior was legal and the officer’s interpretation of ORS 811.415 was wrong. Back when I got my ticket (unfairly it seemed and still seems to me) I had assumed otherwise, and this (mistaken view of when and how legal precedent can be set) had been my chief inspiration to see this through, argue my case.

        So I took the deal offered me by the officer. I feel better about it than I thought I would. I learned quite a lot about how this system works. I gained a much better sense of how ORS 811.415 applies to people cycling, and have already paid considerably more attention to my habit of passing on the right than before receiving my (soon to be dismissed) ticket. Oh, and not until I got to the proper window in the courthouse, where you obtain the traffic safety course information, did I learn that there is a $30 fee for that! Being the cheapskate that I am I felt just a little bit tricked since no one had mentioned anything about this fee.
        Oh well. 🙂

        Recommended Thumb up 0

        • Avatar
          RonC May 22, 2015 at 7:55 pm

          I think you did the smart thing to diffuse the conflict. It certainly would have been more satisfying if the officer had been required to take a cycling class that cost him $30.00, but that was clearly not going to happen. What really bugged me when I was cited was how petty and mean spirited the whole interaction was. More of a power trip, when clearly there was no harm done and no law broken. From an interpersonal standpoint though, you took the high road. I suspect the officer will come out of this with more respect for cyclists than had you pursued the issue in court.

          Recommended Thumb up 0

          • Avatar
            Alan 1.0 May 22, 2015 at 8:10 pm

            Good thoughts, RonC, I agree.

            9watts, I’m confused about the cop’s deal: “dismiss the ticket if I agreed to…plead no contest” (I get the safety course part). If it was dismissed, there’s nothing to plead to. Pleading no contest is functionally the same as pleading guilty, so if you pled that, there must have been a citation to plead to. If that’s the case, does it count as a moving violation on your driving record? Or is it that the ticket is dismissed and you take the safety course, but you enter no plea?

            I’m sure the safety instructor will learn something from you as a student. :^)

            Recommended Thumb up 0

            • Avatar
              9watts May 22, 2015 at 8:57 pm

              Thanks, Alan 1.0 and RonC, for your kind remarks.

              Alan,
              Your question has me now confused too. Hm. The officer said in no uncertain terms that if I plead guilty/no contest [All the judge said was ‘How do you plead? – No Contest?’ To which I replied ‘No Contest!’] that I would have to take the course and that the ticket would vanish/not be on my record. I assumed that this was a standard package; didn’t think to second guess any part of it. At no point was I concerned about something being or remaining on my record; I don’t have a car and don’t plan to ever own one again so I’m not sure how that would even register, but perhaps I should understand the intricacies of these legal terms a bit more. Thanks for the nudge.

              Recommended Thumb up 0

              • Avatar
                Tom Hardy June 8, 2015 at 1:33 pm

                Unfortunatly! You fell for the policeman’s gambit. You will have the “Illegal Passing On The Right “on your record for at least 10 years. If you have insurance on your car you will pay much extra for the whole time, much like a DUI.

                Recommended Thumb up 0

              • Avatar
                soren June 9, 2015 at 7:28 am

                Also, by requesting a court date you insure that these kinds of frivolous citations will lose the city money.

                Recommended Thumb up 0

              • Avatar
                9watts June 9, 2015 at 1:28 pm

                “You will have the ‘Illegal Passing On The Right’ on your record for at least 10 years. If you have insurance on your car you will pay much extra for the whole time, much like a DUI.”
                Incorrect on all counts, Tom. The judge and cop explicitly noted that those very things would not stick around. Not that I care one way or the other, as I don’t have or plan to ever again own a car. But it is important to set the record straight.

                Recommended Thumb up 0

    • Avatar
      Pete April 7, 2015 at 2:19 pm

      How did the hearing go?? Inquiring minds want to know…

      Recommended Thumb up 0

      • Avatar
        9watts April 7, 2015 at 2:31 pm

        see post immediately above yours (points up).

        Recommended Thumb up 0

        • Avatar
          Pete April 8, 2015 at 2:02 pm

          That’s what I get for not reading (all of my) email. That must be frustrating… we’ll keep fingers crossed in the meantime. I think BP should make a story of it (even if you didn’t get Tasered ;).

          Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Avatar
    Nik March 12, 2015 at 12:55 pm

    Unsafe passing on the right is a violation that is chronic among Portland drivers, particularly when the passer wants to turn right at an intersection. I can’t count the number of times I’ve been waiting to turn right when another driver has illegally passed me on the right (and other people behind me), in the parking lane, through a bus stop, or over the sidewalk, to reach the intersection first and cut me off.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

    • Avatar
      dan March 12, 2015 at 1:34 pm

      When you’re on a bike? That would freak me out. What part of town does that happen in?

      Recommended Thumb up 0

    • Avatar
      Editz March 12, 2015 at 2:31 pm

      I’ve been in my car and had motorists squeeze through on my right IN THE BIKE LANE multiple times. It’s insanity.

      Recommended Thumb up 0

      • Avatar
        PNP March 12, 2015 at 2:55 pm

        It might be insanity, but it happens all the time. I seldom see drivers who don’t encroach on bike lanes to make right turns. It’s just routine.

        Recommended Thumb up 0

        • Avatar
          John Lascurettes March 12, 2015 at 5:30 pm

          Except for on southbound N Vancouver at N Cook where, even with a dedicated turn lane, they swing wide to the left and into the bike lane. [facepalm]

          Recommended Thumb up 0

        • Avatar
          Eric March 15, 2015 at 6:54 am

          Half of them with a “share the road” plate – maybe they think that buys usage of the bike lane?

          Recommended Thumb up 0

    • Avatar
      oliver March 12, 2015 at 3:41 pm

      I’ve had two people do that to me while I was driving in the last two weeks.

      The first time on Broadway @ Oak last Saturday morning, the overtaking driver not only went around me while I was waiting for pedestrian and bicycle traffic to clear, but drove into the southbound bicycle lane, and turned into the bicycle only lane on Oak St Westbound.

      The second was southbound on 33rd waiting to turn at Prescott. While there is no bicycle lane, I definitely was waiting with my indicator on.

      I nearly hit both drivers.

      Recommended Thumb up 0

    • Avatar
      Pete March 12, 2015 at 8:29 pm

      They are likely Californians/transplants who do not understand the difference in state laws. In California a right-turning driver is legally required to be as far right as possible (yielding to any bicyclists, theoretically) prior to turning right. When I first moved here I really had to get used to this. I actually prefer it now that I’ve gotten used to it, but then again I’m usually taking the first travel lane at intersections (depending on traffic flow and signal) as opposed to ‘corking’ the bike lane. It’s a mixed bag of cyclists that ride like me here, not surprisingly, and once in a while I get lectured about how “unsafe” it is to be in the middle of a “car” lane, but overall it works well (I thank my drop-bar mirror for being able to time traffic gaps and make the decision to be in or out of the bike lane). Pretty much all drivers here, though, cut over far right before turning right (regardless of whether you’re there or not, sometimes).

      Recommended Thumb up 0

    • Avatar
      Pete March 13, 2015 at 12:35 pm

      Here are some other references/discussions:

      http://greatergreaterwashington.org/post/6528/drivers-must-merge-into-bike-lanes-before-turning-right/

      https://driversed.com/driving-information/driving-techniques/making-right-and-left-turns.aspx

      Personally I think that not only is driver/bicyclist education (and retesting) a big problem to begin with, but add to it ever-changing laws (seems every legislator these days has to be involved with roadway ‘safety’), and then top it off with a lack of uniformity in laws (and even controls/infrastructure) between states. Maybe we need a legislator to propose a law (i.e. start a conversation) forcing drivers to be retested every time new laws related to roadways (including bike helmets and safety colors) are passed? 😉

      Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Avatar
    Stretchy March 12, 2015 at 1:32 pm

    The rules cited above reference “Drivers”. Does this also apply to cyclists? IIRC, this has been a topic of debate here before.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

    • Avatar
      Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) March 12, 2015 at 1:37 pm

      stretchy,

      when i use the term “drivers” it refers to people operating cars.. not “cyclists”

      Recommended Thumb up 0

      • Avatar
        Stretchy March 12, 2015 at 1:46 pm

        Thanks, Jonathan, I was referring to the text of the legal statutes cited above.

        “(a) Drives a vehicle to overtake and pass upon the right of another vehicle …”

        In this case does the law specifically refer to someone ‘driving’ a car or does it refer to anyone piloting any kind of vehicle, including a bicycle.

        Recommended Thumb up 0

    • Avatar
      Todd Boulanger March 13, 2015 at 7:40 am

      Yes it would be great if ODoT and the Legislature did an administrative update to clarify terms and use updated inclusive ones versus adding subsections. Use “vehicle operators” instead of “drivers” unless they need to specifically call out herders driving sheep to the market, etc.

      Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Avatar
    Stretchy March 12, 2015 at 1:44 pm

    Thank you for addressing this but, this is still pretty confusing. I have a question about an incident I saw several years ago as a pedestrian.

    There was a car traveling eastbound on SE Belmont. It was rush hour so, traffic was backed up etc. The car signaled to make a right hand turn onto SE 33rd and began its turn. The car stopped its turn to yield to pedestrians who were walking on Belmont and crossing 33rd.

    So, at this point, the car is still pretty much in the lane of traffic on Belmont but, has started a right hand turn with its turn signal on.

    The pedestrians clear the intersection and the car continues its right-hand turn just as a cyclist, who is passing all the backed up traffic, passes the turning car on the right. There was contact but, not enough to knock the cyclist off his bike.

    Where would the driver and cyclist stand legally?

    Recommended Thumb up 0

    • Avatar
      JRB March 12, 2015 at 5:31 pm

      Stretchy, other’s may be able to address this better, but as I understand the law, a right turning driver is only required to yield to a bicyclist on their right if the bicyclist is in a bike lane because the bike lane is another traffic lane, no different under the law that the lane the driver is in. In addition, the law which is the subject of the article says a bike may pass on right only if it is safe to do so. I think attempting to pass a right turning driver on the right is not safe (If you are not in a bike lane, If you are, the driver is required to watch for and yield to traffic in the adjacent (bike) lane.

      In your example, I think the cyclist was in the wrong because the driver was not required to yield and it was not safe for the cyclist to pass. I got rear ended in my pick up a couple of years ago when I had to stop suddenly because a bicycle passed me on the right on a street with no bike lane. I was unsure of the law at the time so I did not suggest to the cyclist that he was in the wrong, but if the same happened today, I would.

      Recommended Thumb up 0

    • Avatar
      John Lascurettes March 12, 2015 at 5:35 pm

      If there was a bike lane there, the car should have legally yielded to it; however, I don’t see one on a satellite shot of that intersection.

      If it was a shared lane (no specific bicycle lane), then the bicycle operator was not operating in a “safe” manner as described by the law and this article, particularly if the car driver had his indicator on.

      Recommended Thumb up 0

      • Avatar
        Stretchy March 12, 2015 at 10:08 pm

        There is definitely not a bike lane there. And, I definitely remember the car having its turn signal on and having already started the right turn before yielding to the pedestrians.

        I remember that being my ‘eureka’ moment about the hazards of passing cars on the right. Especially when there is an intersection or any possibility of the car making a right hand turn. Perhaps sometimes it takes viewing it from a 3rd party perspective.

        Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Avatar
    cpac March 12, 2015 at 1:56 pm

    So if I understand this correctly, when I’m on my bike and I approach an intersection where there are three cars ahead of me at a stop sign, I can legally squeeze to right of them and proceed to the front of the line and (eventually) through the intersection?

    I see this happening often enough, but always assumed it was an common but illegal practice. I’ve avoided doing this because I thought it was illegal and because it likely appears like the person on a bike is “cutting in line” and annoys or enrages the people in cars in the way people get annoyed any time somebody cuts ahead of them.

    This raises a question though of who has the right of way when a car and bicycle are stopped next to each other at a one-lane intersection. Who has the right of way? (if, say, the car is turning right and the bicycle is going straight, or if the bicycle is turning left and the car is going straight?)

    Recommended Thumb up 0

    • Avatar
      Jeff March 12, 2015 at 3:09 pm

      I agree – it might be legal, but I still won’t do it unless there’s a bike lane and even then I’ll hang a bit behind the first car. For me, it’s about the risk-reward balance. Pull that maneuver and you increase the risk of getting right hooked and you gain, what? 15-30 seconds?

      Recommended Thumb up 0

    • Avatar
      davemess March 12, 2015 at 4:45 pm

      I think they both have the right of way. It’s essentially a two lane road at that point. Both can go (just like a two lane stop sign where one car is going straight and one is in a left turn lane), and the car can pass the cyclist in the intersection. Seems to work fine doing it that way. Some cars will defer to the cyclist, but I don’t always think that’s necessary.

      Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Avatar
    soren March 12, 2015 at 1:58 pm

    “Overtaking and passing upon the right is permitted if the overtaking vehicle is a bicycle that may safely make the passage under the existing conditions.”

    Can Ray Thomas address whether he believes this statute legalizes lane splitting. It seems to me that it does because the language is broad and does not require use of the right-most lane. Moreover, the only statute that specifically addresses lane splitting is narrowly targeted at motorcycles/mopeds:

    http://www.oregonlaws.org/ors/814.240

    Recommended Thumb up 0

    • Avatar
      John Lascurettes March 12, 2015 at 5:39 pm

      It wouldn’t cover lane splitting since bicycles are supposed to be operating as far to the right as practicable (unless on a one-way road where they can operate as far left as practicable), except in the case of changing lanes, preparing for a turn, avoiding hazards, etc.

      I did post higher up about a bill that’s moving through Salem right now about allowing motorcycles and mopeds to lane split and filter (does not include bikes): http://www.reddit.com/r/Portland/comments/2usfrv/a_motorcycle_lane_sharing_bill_has_been/

      Recommended Thumb up 0

      • Avatar
        soren March 12, 2015 at 10:37 pm

        Far right as practicable does not apply to cyclists “passing or overtaking” and also not does it apply to cyclists riding at the “normal speed of traffic using the roadway at that time and place “.

        814.30

        (1) A person commits the offense of improper use of lanes by a bicycle if the person is operating a bicycle on a roadway at less than the normal speed of traffic using the roadway at that time and place under the existing conditions and the person does not ride as close as practicable to the right curb or edge of the roadway.

        (2) A person is not in violation of the offense under this section if the person is not operating a bicycle as close as practicable to the right curb or edge of the roadway under any of the following circumstances:

        (a) When overtaking and passing another bicycle or vehicle that is proceeding in the same direction.

        PS: The statute that makes lane-splitting by motorcycles illegal also specifically uses “passing or overtaking” to describe lane splitting.

        Recommended Thumb up 0

        • Avatar
          soren March 12, 2015 at 10:44 pm

          To clarify:

          Lane splitting should be exempt from “as far right as practicable” because 1) cyclists are moving faster than “the normal speed of traffic at that time and place” and 2) splitting is by definition passing or overtaking other vehicles.

          PS: cyclists are allowed to share a vehicle lane while passing on the left or right (if it’s safe to do so) so lane markings should not be a legal issue.

          Recommended Thumb up 0

      • Avatar
        soren March 12, 2015 at 10:40 pm

        The motorcycle splitting bill has been brought up repeatedly and tabled, unfortunately.

        Recommended Thumb up 0

      • Avatar
        El Biciclero March 13, 2015 at 9:54 am

        “…as far to the right as practicable…except in the case of changing lanes, preparing for a turn, avoiding hazards, etc.”

        What about the specific case 9watts mentioned? If I’m “preparing for a left turn” by moving between a through lane and a left-turn-only lane, then what? I’m not required to be AFRAP, I can claim to be safely passing on the left, AND I’m allowed to pass on the right. If I’m not careful, though, I could be busted for turning from the wrong lane if I can’t squeeze all the way into the left turn lane.

        I think the intention/assumption for the amendment to 811.415 was that “passing on the right” meant “only on the far right”, but the language isn’t clear on that.

        I think what needs to be clarified is whether passing—either of a cyclist by a driver or vice versa—within a lane that is not an outside lane (far right or far left lane) is allowed.

        Recommended Thumb up 0

        • Avatar
          soren March 13, 2015 at 11:30 am

          The language is nearly identical to that used to make lane-splitting illegal so I don’t think there is any evidence of intent to restrict filtering to the right-most lane (or the left- most lane on a one way street). Moreover, “overtaking and passing” is precisely one of the statutory situations where it’s acceptable for cyclists to ride in other lanes on a multi-lane road. When I split I always move over to the right once I pass congestion so splitting, for me, is precisely “overtaking and passing”.

          “If I’m not careful, though, I could be busted for turning from the wrong lane if I can’t squeeze all the way into the left turn lane.”

          This kind of inherent ambiguity is a problem for just about every statute that limits movement of bikes. It’s interesting to learn that there have been filtering citations because this is something I do in full view of portland police on an approximately weekly basis (I pass the county court house and police HQ on my commute).

          Recommended Thumb up 0

          • Avatar
            soren March 13, 2015 at 11:31 am

            *illegal for motorcycles

            Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Avatar
    Mike A. Schwab March 12, 2015 at 2:44 pm

    Passing someone turning right needs to be done on the left, or wait behind them. Otherwise you are asking for a right hook collision.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

    • Avatar
      TrailLover March 12, 2015 at 3:31 pm

      But is it legal to pass (on the right) a car that is signaling a right turn? Or does the simple fact that the car is signaling establish that it is not safe and therefore not legal to pass? This is a very common scenario and it is often the case that the car may be signaling well in advance of the intersection or the car may actually be sitting motionless in traffic but still have it’s signal flashing.

      Recommended Thumb up 0

      • Avatar
        John Lascurettes March 12, 2015 at 5:40 pm

        Depends on whether or not there’s a bike lane or side path.

        Recommended Thumb up 0

        • Avatar
          TrailLover March 12, 2015 at 6:36 pm

          Does it? If there’s a bike lane, I would like to think that it’s legal for a cyclist to pass (on the right) a vehicle that is signaling right (in its own lane). But what about in a single shared lane?

          Recommended Thumb up 0

          • Avatar
            JRB March 13, 2015 at 11:38 am

            Trailover, I tried to address this above in response to Stretchy’s question, but maybe I can do a better job this time. A driver has no obligation to yield to a cyclist to his or her right in they are sharing the lane (no bike lane). In a shared lane, a cyclist may pass on the right only if it is safe to do so. I am having a hard time imagining a situation where it would be considered safe for a bicyclist to overtake and pass a driver on the right if the driver was signaling a right turn. Signaling is irrelevant if the cyclist is traveling in a bike lane. A driver is required to yield to any traffic in a bike lane, before turning across the lane, period.

            Recommended Thumb up 0

    • Avatar
      soren March 13, 2015 at 11:36 am

      When traffic is not moving it’s usually OK to pass on the right cautiously. That being said, if there is a gap between lanes. I almost always pass on the left by splitting the whole block. This is why I believe that bike lanes should never continue through a right turn. (Ideally the right turn would be banned or a signal installed.)

      Recommended Thumb up 0

    • Avatar
      Tom Hardy May 28, 2015 at 9:17 am

      Been right hooked too many times in the last 62 years of riding Portland streets. Biggest problem is if the motorist does not signal (3/4 of the time) busses and semi trucks are pretty good about it. Busses get really upset when a bicycle passes them on the left any time, even when they are taking up 2 lanes beside the bike lane when they do it. Bike lanes I regularly use when they are continuous and I always ride to the left on one ways unless the right lane either has a bike lane or is marked as a whole lane as in NW 19th. This thanks to Ray from a class in the 90’s.

      Recommended Thumb up 0

  • John Liu
    John Liu March 12, 2015 at 3:49 pm

    I too am curious if a bicycle rider may legally lane split – meaning, ride more or less on the line dividing two lanes, to the right of a car in the left lane, and to the right of a car in the right lane.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

    • Avatar
      Pete March 12, 2015 at 8:32 pm

      When I took Ray’s class in 2005 I was told it wasn’t, but Oregon bike/ped laws seemed to go through many changes in the subsequent years.

      Recommended Thumb up 0

      • Avatar
        soren March 12, 2015 at 10:49 pm

        The law that legalized “overtaking or passing” on the right was passed in 2006. (Overtaking or passing on the left was already legal.)

        Recommended Thumb up 0

  • John Liu
    John Liu March 12, 2015 at 10:30 pm

    Regardless of what is legal, a prudent cyclist should not pass, on the right, a car that is signaling a right turn, if the pass will take place in or shortly before the intersection, alley, parking spot, or other possible reason why the driver is signaling.

    Doesn’t matter if the cyclist is in a bike lane and thus has the legal right of way.

    That is just common sense, ignoring it leaves you vulnerable to right hooks.

    In fact, whether the car is signaling right or not, you don’t want to pass on the right in, or shortly before, an intersection. Plenty of drivers don’t signal.

    Obviously, if traffic is totally gridlocked such that the car is boxed in and unable to move, then pass freely with a quiet smile.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

    • Avatar
      TrailLover March 13, 2015 at 7:41 am

      But what is or is not legal is important for a lot of reasons. While I agree that a great deal of caution/prudence should always be exercised, I’ve many times found myself in a situation where it seemed perfectly safe to pass a signaling vehicle on the right but wondered if it were legal to do so.

      I imagine we’ve all seen a situation where a vehicle is signaling right but “obviously” seems to be waiting for an approaching cyclist to pass (on the right) before turning. Not passing leaves everybody in a stalemate that itself can lead to confusion and danger. And what do we mean by “shortly before an intersection?” Some drivers signal their intentions well before an intersection. Does it become illegal to pass them on the right the moment they activate their turn signal?

      Recommended Thumb up 0

      • John Liu
        John Liu March 13, 2015 at 8:03 am

        I said, “if the pass will take place in or shortly before the intersection, alley, parking spot”. Some drivers turn on their turn signal a half block before the intersection. Most likely they won’t start any preparatory squeeze to the right until they are a few car lengths from the intersection, which is what I mean by “shortly”. But are you sure he isn’t signalling a turn into an alley or parking spot, rather than the intersection further down the road? Better safe than sorry. Touching your brakes and losing a bit of momentum isn’t a big deal.

        The “stalemate” situation does arise. How do you know the driver is actually waiting for you, the cyclist, to pass on the right? One thing is to see if there is any other reason why the driver has stopped – pedestrians, other traffic? If so, there’s a good chance he isn’t actually waiting for you, and will start his turn as soon as that obstruction has cleared. If you still think the driver is in fact waiting for you, then the prudent choices are to proceed but slow down (so if you’re wrong, the impact is at 8-10 mph, not 15-20 mph), to pass the car on the left (recommended if you don’t want to slow down), or stop and wait for/wave the driver to make his turn (I do this if I don’t trust the situation for some reason, e.g. the “car” is a truck which will crush me under its wheels, rather than just slamming me with its fender).

        Recommended Thumb up 0

      • Avatar
        soren March 13, 2015 at 11:43 am

        The statute is clear: if it’s “safe”, it’s legal.

        /sarcasm

        Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Avatar
    Spiffy March 13, 2015 at 7:49 am

    Today’s article will try to clear up confusion about how and when you are legally permitted to pass another vehicle operator on the right side of the roadway.

    the article failed because it didn’t:

    describe ways that passing on the right can be performed in an unsafe manner

    the article mostly just quoted the statute without giving any real idea of what a “safe” situation is…

    and how long do those “existing conditions” apply?

    extremely disappointed in this Get Legal article…

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Avatar
    Steven McAtee March 15, 2015 at 9:57 am

    This is a very helpful article. Thank you!

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Avatar
    Dee Railer March 16, 2015 at 10:51 am

    Sorry, I am not clear on this…
    >>>•Passing on the right in a bicycle lane (which is a separate lane from the regular traffic lane) is also allowed; but, as with all maneuvers, it must be done with “due care.”<<<
    Does this mean an AUTOMOBILE may travel momentarily in the bicycle lane to the right of left turning or slower moving vehicle??? Yikes. ???

    Recommended Thumb up 0

    • Avatar
      El Biciclero March 16, 2015 at 12:15 pm

      No, motorized vehicles are not legally allowed to use a bike lane for passing on the right, although it has become a fairly common practice.

      Recommended Thumb up 0

      • Avatar
        Oregon Mamacita March 17, 2015 at 3:13 pm

        Yes it is a common practice, and this is how I prevent cars from doing this
        when I am driving.

        Let’s say I stop to make a left turn, and there is a bike lane on my right.
        If I see a car thinking about passing me on the right (taking over bike lane), I quickly switch my blinker from left turn to right. The impatient driver is scared that I will hit them, so they wait. Then I put on my left blinker and make my turn.

        Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Avatar
    Tom Hardy May 22, 2015 at 9:41 pm

    Only once have I been pinched off next to a curb by a driver with no turn signal turning right. I stopped so fast that my handle bars were still in my hands on the ground and I rolled off the bike after doing an endover. The pickup noticed my back wheel in the air and returned in the service station parking lot to appologize.
    Since then whenever I get to another intersection with a right turn lane I split between the right turn lane and the straight lane at the light. Now cars regularly turn right there and some even get impatient and cut through the gas station making the attendents scramble out of the way. There is always 5 to 20+ cars wanting to go straight. There is a bike path across the intersection and I am usually the first one across the street when the light turns. Thankfully! The Beaverton police officers in cars and motorcycles and the Washington county sheriff deputies have been next to me when I was doing this with the Deputy on a motorcycle giving me a high five and “Good Move!” Intersection? SW Scholls Ferry and Allen.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Avatar
    Tom Hardy May 22, 2015 at 9:44 pm

    By the way Ray, loved your bike law class in the 90’s, after I bounced off the rear window of a car. The next time I saw the car was 18 years later just after my son got married and his wife was driving it. Her grandfather gave it to her when he died.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Avatar