ODOT latest PSA explains new bike passing law

When it comes to safety for bicycle riders, there’s perhaps no more harrowing interaction than when you are passed on a rural road that has little or no shoulder.

That’s why advocates pushed to change Oregon’s bicycle passing law in 2023. They felt the previous version of ORS 811.420 lacked clarity and caused some drivers to get impatient and/or pass bicycle users too closely. The law now makes it clear that drivers can cross the centerline to pass a bicycle rider and that they must slow down while doing it.

But a law is meaningless unless people know it exists and alter their behaviors to comply with it. That’s where education comes in. On that note, I was pleased to see ODOT upload a new video to their YouTube channel a few days ago about the new law. It’s a relaxing animation with a “Be Patient & Hold Back” logo that features someone in a meditative pose on the thumbnail image.

Here’s the text of the video:

“When you’re driving in Oregon, it’s now legal to pass people on bicycles in a no passing zone, as long as they’re riding at less than half the speed limit.

First, be patient and hold back for a good moment to pass. Once it’s clear, move fully into the next lane and pass at five miles below the speed limit. This avoids crowding riders, keeping them safe from the force of passing vehicles. Lastly, wait until you see the riders in your rear view mirror before you move back over.

Share the Road, so we can all get there safely.”

I hope this is played at DMV offices and that there are social media ads, and a radio and TV commercial version. I’m not aware of any media buys yet and I’m skeptical it will have the broad reach it takes to inform a majority of drivers in our state. But nonetheless, it’s nice to know ODOT is thinking about bike safety and the message and video is very well done.

Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor)

Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor)

Founder of BikePortland (in 2005). Father of three. North Portlander. Basketball lover. Car owner and driver. If you have questions or feedback about this site or my work, feel free to contact me at @jonathan_maus on Twitter, via email at maus.jonathan@gmail.com, or phone/text at 503-706-8804. Also, if you read and appreciate this site, please become a supporter.

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J_R
J_R
1 month ago

It would be great if all drivers were required to watch this, but I’d be pleased if we could require cops, DAs and judges to watch.

George
George
1 month ago

My snarky response: Why not just build the actual separated infrastructure bikes need on these roads?

Steve C
Steve C
1 month ago
Reply to  George

Cyclists have the right to be on the road

Msprague
Msprague
1 month ago
Reply to  Steve C

Cyclists don’t pay for usage.

Chris I
Chris I
1 month ago
Reply to  Msprague

Irrelevant. The Constitution permits free movement, regardless of who might be paying for the infrastructure. And roads are not fully paid for through user fees. Anyone paying Federal, State, and Local taxes is funding the roads.

Watts
Watts
1 month ago
Reply to  Chris I

Anyone paying Federal, State, and Local taxes is funding the roads.

Not really. Non-road user taxes/fees contribute a very small amount to Portland streets. How many times has this been discussed here?

Karl Dickman
1 month ago
Reply to  Watts

One dollar is the same as another. Dedicated funding streams are an accounting gimmick, nothing more.

Watts
Watts
1 month ago
Reply to  Karl Dickman

accounting gimmick, nothing more

Not when there are restrictions on how those funding streams can be spent, as we have in the state constitution. Sometimes those “gimmicks” drive budgetary decisions.

Chris I
Chris I
1 month ago
Reply to  Watts

roads are not fully paid for through user fees.

Direct quote from my very short comment.

QGeo
QGeo
1 month ago
Reply to  Msprague

Bikes don’t cause anywhere close to as much wear on the road as a truck or even a car. unless there’s a secret society of osmium bike riders I don’t know about.

Watts
Watts
1 month ago
Reply to  QGeo

People with dogs cause far more wear-and-tear on parks than those who just walk through, but we don’t expect them to pay more. Why is it different for roads?

alex
alex
27 days ago
Reply to  Watts

Because if we started charging for every specific use of everything, the ROI would be negative because of the bureaucracy costs and we couldn’t do anything – kind of like how licensing cyclists doesn’t make sense.

For example, roads are different here because of a) the base cost of roads is much higher than parks b) the wear, tear, and repair is a much wider gap in terms of costs associated with different uses c) cars take up the majority of the space on roads. So there is a much larger disproportion to wear/tear/repair, size, and costs associated with automobiles. Kind of a simple cost-analysis.

You can’t spell strawman without watts.

Sky
Sky
1 month ago
Reply to  George

Why not reduce the number of cars on the road so biking is safer?

Ben
Ben
1 month ago
Reply to  Sky

Why don’t bicyclists use safer routes? Roads were designed for cars, mostly built with tax dollars from cars and fuel.

JW
JW
1 month ago
Reply to  Ben

True, roads didn’t exist until cars were invented, ask the Romans.

OGB
OGB
1 month ago
Reply to  George

I wonder how you think this would be funded? It would be a parallel transportation network, involving new pavement and other very expensive infrastructure. Also, many rights-of-way can’t be expanded, they’re already as wide as they can be due to private property, obstructions such as cliffs, etc.

Hunnybee
Hunnybee
1 month ago
Reply to  George

Because the funding isn’t there to even be able to maintain the roads that already exist. Oregon’s primary transportation budget, the State Highway Fund, is sitting at $1.72 billion for the biennium that ends next summer. The Oregon Department of Transportation, which received about 40% of that funding, says it needs an additional $1.8 billion per year to pay for capital projects, better serve DMV customers and maintain the roughly 8,000 miles of roads it is responsible for.

Jim Calhoon
Jim Calhoon
1 month ago

What drivers have been doing for years is now legal. Now since I have lived in the Scappoose/ St Helens area most my life (I am 64) and ride the backroads in the area. Most of these roads are narrow two lanes with no shoulder. The majority of drivers have been great about waiting until it is safe to pass.

The problem with new or revised laws in most drivers don’t get the memo. For example the green bike boxes. If I wasn’t a bike rider would I know what they were. If I have business at the DMV I will pick up the latest drivers manual and look through it. When i checked a few years ago I was happy to see the information for the green boxes was indeed included in the manual. The problem is the only drivers (other than me) looking at the manual are the ones trying to get their license for the first time. After they get their license they will never look at the manual again. I believe drivers should take the test on a regular basis. Currently license renewal in Oregon is 8 years, sounds the like the perfect time to re-test. This could all be done online.

JoAnne
JoAnne
1 month ago

Bike riders need to realize they are not above the law. Just yesterday, as I was letting students off my school bus with my stop sign out and red lights flashing a bicycle passed me on the right, exactly where the students were exiting. There are rules of the road for them as well.

Chris I
Chris I
1 month ago
Reply to  JoAnne

What does your comment have to do with the content of this story?

Have you had car drivers ignore your bus stop sign?

Msprague
Msprague
1 month ago
Reply to  Chris I

It has everything to do with this story. It’s about the law. Cyclists notoriously break the rules of the road but you expect drivers to be perfect.

Chris I
Chris I
1 month ago
Reply to  Msprague

Citation needed.

qqq
qqq
1 month ago
Reply to  Msprague

This article is about a revision to a law that was necessary because so many drivers were regularly misinterpreting one existing law (thinking it wasn’t legal to cross the yellow line when passing bikes) and breaking another one (passing bikes without the required safety clearance).

Those violations by drivers were resulting in close calls, injuries and deaths to bike riders.

That’s what this article is about.

alex
alex
21 days ago
Reply to  Msprague

The studies that have been done show that drivers tend to break the law more frequently. There is literally 0 expectations for drivers to be perfect – in fact, I expect them to not follow the rules or even know the law based on what I have seen them do. I also find it ironic that the comment was originally about expecting cyclists to be perfect, when, in fact, all people tend to break transportation laws, but the consequences of larger vehicles are disproportionate to bikes/peds/etc.

https://www.forbes.com/sites/carltonreid/2019/05/10/cyclists-break-far-fewer-road-rules-than-motorists-finds-new-video-study/

Ben
Ben
1 month ago
Reply to  Chris I

I think it shows the arrogance of a part of the bicycle community, some just don’t think the rules apply to them.

Free-agent
Free-agent
1 month ago
Reply to  Ben

Funny stuff. On a 30 mile ride yesterday I don’t believe I broke a single law, including yielding at a stop sign for which someone in a large truck erroneously thought I needed a lecture for.
I saw drivers speeding, passing me illegally, not using turn signals, rolling through stop signs, parking illegally. The list goes on.
I think it shows the arrogance of a part of the driving community, some just don’t think the rules apply to them.

rain panther
rain panther
26 days ago
Reply to  Ben

I don’t see how it “shows” any such thing. It’s just a single anecdote that has nothing to do with the newly clarified law or the PSA video in the story.

Sky
Sky
1 month ago
Reply to  JoAnne

Studies have shown that car drivers break the law at a far greater rate than bike riders

Msprague
Msprague
1 month ago
Reply to  Sky

I don’t believe that at all. Every time I come up on a group of cyclists I can find at least one law being broken.

Drive who understands and follows the LAW
Drive who understands and follows the LAW
1 month ago
Reply to  Msprague

Yeah, bikers constantly break laws.
For example:

They blow stop signs!
(The law is the law regardless of whether there is traffic. bikers.)

They bike on sidewalks and crosswalks!!!

They bike without helmets!

They cross intersections with the walk signal!
(The law is the law regardless of whether it’s a bike route, bikers.)

They don’t put their feet down when at stop signs!!!

They pass drivers on the right!

They have reflectors instead of tail lights!

I could go on and on.

Micah
Micah
1 month ago

Most (arguably all) of these things are not illegal.

Ben
Ben
1 month ago
Reply to  Micah

Check the law book. If they are to follow rules of the road than they are in fact breaking the law.

qqq
qqq
1 month ago
Reply to  Ben

If you check the “law book”, you’ll find that all these things are LEGAL. If you don’t know that these are legal, you should stop driving until you learn the rules of the road.

Watts
Watts
1 month ago
Reply to  Micah

The post was sarcastic.

Micah
Micah
1 month ago
Reply to  Watts

OK, maybe I am getting old. JFC. 🙂

J_R
J_R
1 month ago

Clearly, you do not know the laws! EVERY example you cite is not the law or has exceptions.

Example: putting your foot down at a stop is not in the ORS. By the way, I will be happy to follow your “law” on that if it is required of all vehicles including drivers of cars, trucks and buses.

Example: helmets are required of children but not adults.

Lisa Caballero (Assistant Editor)
Editor
Reply to  J_R

J_R, the poster knows the law and is toying with you. A little amusement for the weekend.

Will the last bike commuter turn off their lights
Will the last bike commuter turn off their lights
1 month ago

I thought the sarcasm was obvious but Poe’s law strikes again.

Lisa Caballero (Assistant Editor)
Editor

Yeah, I got it, but it can be challenging to interpret text in this Venetian masked ball.

qqq
qqq
1 month ago

Looks like you lifted that list off the Police Bicycle Accident Report Checklist.

Will the last bike commuter turn off their lights
Will the last bike commuter turn off their lights
1 month ago
Reply to  qqq

Sadly the Police can be as ignorant of the “law book”[sic] as the typical driver. We live in a transportation system full of drivers who constantly drive in a homicidal fashion and who experience incandescent rage when they observe a person slowly and legally cycling through a stop when the coast is clear.
.
What’s legal and safe provokes driver road rage and what’s illegal and homicidal (e.g. speeding) is accepted and even validated by many drivers.

qqq
qqq
1 month ago

Sadly the Police can be as ignorant of the “law book”[sic] as the typical driver.

Yes, that’s true, and it was my exact point. I’ve seen items from your list on police reports posted here more times than I can count over the years, plus untold variations of violating the wearing dark clothing/not wearing reflective clothing “law”. Yet I can’t recall ever seeing the equivalent treatment for drivers (“the vehicle was black”, “the vehicle lacked dynamic stability control”, etc.).

I loved your list.

Ben
Ben
1 month ago
Reply to  J_R

Thebhelmet law should be mandatory for all cyclista, just as it is for motorcyclists. If you wanna ride on roads then follow road rules.

Alexandar H
Alexandar H
12 days ago
Reply to  Ben

Helmets are required for motorcycles to make stolen motorcycles easier to find: thieves don’t carry helmets with them when looking for a bike to steal, and it is an easy excuse to pull someone over and check the plate.

qqq
qqq
12 days ago
Reply to  Alexandar H

Exactly. That’s why I’ve always advocated for requiring helmets for people driving pickups or vans that are transporting motorcycles. That way thieves can’t avoid detection by carrying away stolen motorcycles instead of riding off with them. Of course this rule should apply to transporting bicycles, for the same reason.

Alexandar H
Alexandar H
12 days ago

– bicyclists in Oregon are not required to stop at stop signs unless they are yielding to traffic with right away. It’s called the Stop as Yield law, or the Idaho law (since Idaho adopted it first).

– bicyclists are specifically allowed to use sidewalks and crosswalks except in areas that have explicitly prohibited that, like downtown Portland.

– adult cyclists are not required to wear helmets at all.

– cyclists are allowed to use crosswalks, as I said above.

– putting feet on the ground has never been required as an indication of a cyclist being stopped in any state. Many people can remain stopped on a bicycle without putting their feet on the floor (it’s a thing called a trackstand). People have won court cases against citations because putting one’s feet on the ground is not an indication of whether they are a stopped or not, and cannot be used as justification for claiming they were not stopped.

– passing on the right is allowed if there are multiple lanes (including a bike lane), or the vehicle being passed is turning left, or in many states, if the passing vehicle (bicycle) is turning right.

– taillights are not required equipment for a bicycle; reflectors are.

Please, go on.

Ben
Ben
1 month ago
Reply to  Sky

That makes sense as there are far more vehicles on the road. Not giving car drivers a pass, but if I were a cyclist i would be more diligent, a fender bender in a car results in a damaged car where as it could be fatal to a cyclist.

Teresa Young
Teresa Young
1 month ago
Reply to  JoAnne

You take issues with bicyclists, I feel pity for you.

OGB
OGB
1 month ago
Reply to  JoAnne

Here’s some info about users of bikes vs. automobiles and law violations:

Cyclists Are More Law-Abiding Than Drivers
https://www.outsideonline.com/2273001/cyclists-comply-traffic-laws-more-drivers
– this is a study in Florida involving cameras and other sensors on 100 bikes

Cyclists Break Far Fewer Road Rules Than Motorists, Finds New Video Study
https://www.forbes.com/sites/carltonreid/2019/05/10/cyclists-break-far-fewer-road-rules-than-motorists-finds-new-video-study
– study by Danish Road Directorate, 5% of cyclists (on cycleways) or 14% of cyclists (on streets without cycling infrastructure) but 66% of automobile drives committing infractions

Corvallis Motorist/Bicyclist Crashes
https://www.facebook.com/corvallisrightofway/photos/pcb.1463682333797546/1463682037130909
– typical example of vehicle crash statistics
– violations by cyclists don’t begin at all until 2nd page in this list of automobile/bicycle collisions
– clearly, far and away the majority of crashes involving a motor vehicle and bicycle are due to fault of motorist

Causes of driver/cyclist crashes
https://bikeloudpdx.org/causes-of-driver-cyclist-crashes
– study of vehicle crash reports Jun 2021 – Mar 2022
– of 33 identified causes of crashes, the majority (55%) were caused by these three things:
— Driver failed to yield while turning
— Driver failed to yield to cyclist in bike lane
— Driver failed to obey light or stop sign
– most crashes occurred in daytime during clear/dry weather
– report:
Behavioral Causes of Crashes Between Drivers and Cyclists
in Portland, Oregon
file:///home/organicbrian/Downloads/Behavioral-causes-of-driver-cyclist-crashes–Portland-Oregon–June-2021—Mar-2022-1-1.pdf
– I downloaded to: /home/organicbrian/Desktop/bikes/Behavioral-causes-of-driver-cyclist-crashes–Portland-Oregon–June-2021—Mar-2022-1.pdf

Risky cycling rarely to blame for bike accidents, study finds
https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2009/dec/15/cycling-bike-accidents-study

cat
cat
1 month ago
Reply to  JoAnne

***Comment deleted by moderator. Please understand that everyone is welcome on this site, regardless of if they ride a bike or not. Thank you. – JM**

Richard Hughes
Richard Hughes
1 month ago

As soon as SB 895 passed, I requested ODOT to produce a video reflecting this change. Recently requested a press release with the new video. Hopefully, together we can change the current behavior.

Lois Leveen
Lois Leveen
1 month ago

I wish they had not chosen to make the motor vehicle featured in the spot an RV, the largest (read deadliest) possible. Indeed, every motor vehicle in this spot has ONE PERSON in it, normalizing the most wasteful use of resources. What if ODOT was also reminding us that driving smaller vehicles make our roads safer? I know, I know, everyone will jump on me as being overly critical, but what we normalize matters. So why normalize oversized vehicles and single-users in motor vehicles?

Chris I
Chris I
1 month ago
Reply to  Lois Leveen

Let’s not confuse the narrative. I’m glad they picked a large vehicle, because those are the ones that are the most dangerous if not operated safely.

Single-user use is already normalized in our society. Show this video to normal drivers and I guarantee the 99% won’t even notice if there are passengers in the vehicle or not.

Mudog
Mudog
1 month ago
Reply to  Lois Leveen

Most people don’t have the ability to carpool if they work in a field that requires to be in a different place daily, or multiple places during the day, or drive a service vehicle.
Your suggestion could be adopted by a “FEW PEOPLE, NOT THE MANY. ”
Just have to live with the gross reality of our crappy reality. No more horse and buggy.

Ben
Ben
1 month ago
Reply to  Lois Leveen

Not everyones life is suited for small vehicles. Some folks live in their rv or are vacationing, alot of people need big trucks to haul equipment and supplies to job sites, or have vans cause they have large families. Just because you envision a particular “normal” doesn’t mean others share that same vision.

Dan
Dan
1 month ago
Reply to  Ben

That’s, like, your opinion, man. When I see rush hour traffic, sure looks like the vast majority of those cars have a single occupant.

Peter
Peter
1 month ago

I think this is trying to solve the wrong problem. If it’s unsafe to pass a car at a given point in the road, it’s unsafe to pass a cyclist. No passing zones should only exist where it is unsafe to pass. So what problem does this solve? Are we attempting to solve incorrect road marking?

I’ve found that drivers can be extremely reckless when passing, especially near blind turns or hill crests. When riding on 2-lane no-shoulder roads, I’ve tried ‘taking the lane’ when approaching these dangerous areas in an attempt to dissuade passing me too closely in the lane, only to be met with cars passing me in the opposite lane across the double line into the blind turn/hill, endangering their own safety and greatly endangering mine.

It should not be legal to pass a cyclist in an unsafe location. The road should be striped appropriately.

qqq
qqq
1 month ago
Reply to  Peter

This law doesn’t make it legal to pass a cyclist in an unsafe location.

One thing it DOES do is clarify that drivers can legally move into the opposite lane to pass a bike, which is much safer for bike riders than passing without moving over.

It was already legal to pass “obstructions” in a no-passing zone, so no-passing zones already didn’t prohibit all passing.

One thing–I recall the original bill allowing passing of other slow-moving vehicles (like tractors), but I didn’t see that in the revised law. I wonder if or why that got dropped?

J_R
J_R
1 month ago
Reply to  Peter

Peter, I disagree with your contention that “if it’s unsafe to pass a car at a given point in the road, it’s unsafe to pass a cyclist.”

No-passing zones are based on sight distance, which is based on roadway speeds. It is certainly aimed at motorists passing other motor vehicles. But let’s consider the difference between passing another car or passing a bicyclist.

Pretend you’re driving on a curvy road with a 50-mph limit seeking to pass a truck driving at 40. You will need a long stretch of road to safely get around him after hanging back for a while. You accelerate to 50 or 55, pass, and pull back into your lane. Contrast that with passing a bicyclist cranking up hill at 3 or 5 or 8 mph. How long does it take to pull into the on-coming lane, punch the accelerator, safely pass the cyclist and pull into the original lane? A few seconds and lots less distance than for the truck.

If you require the motorist to hang back, driving the same speed as the cyclist until getting beyond the no-passing zone, he’ll be getting angrier and angrier, more and more cars will be stacking up behind you. That’s not my idea of safety.

I think the clarification to passing laws illustrated in the PSA represents an improvement in safety. I hope motorists catch on.

Teresa Young
Teresa Young
1 month ago

As someone who rides an E-bike for my only source of transportation, I really count on the Drivers to take into consideration that I have the right to be on the road too, just because I am not driving a pollution maker doesn’t mean that what I am doing doesn’t matter.
Rogue River Oregon

Frank
Frank
1 month ago

Well, I could only hope bike riders would have the same courtesy for walkers. We feel the same way you do when a car passes you too close and too fast. Is very unnerving for the walker when a bicyclist, who is silent to the walker, to come up upon a walker and fly by them at high speeds and treat you like you are a pylon in the Tour de France. Courtesy should dictate that you announce yourself so that we are not surprised and unnerved by aggressive passing behaviors. Please pass these thoughts along to your bicycling community. Because, unfortunately very few bikers are courteous.

Thxs

qqq
qqq
1 month ago
Reply to  Frank

Of course people riding bikes should be courteous.

But “very few bikers are courteous”? I’ve been walking my dogs on a greenway path–that’s popular with bike riders of all types–twice per day for years and remember only one negative experience out of the literally thousands of times I’ve been passed. The overwhelming majority of riders have been courteous in my experience.

Math for my experiences:
–about 350 days/year x 2x/day x 20 years = 14,000 walks, x 5 to 10 passes/walk = 70,000 to 140,000 passes by bike riders.

-70,000 to 140,000 passes divided by 1 bad experience = 1 bad experience per 70,000 to 140,000 passes, or 0.000014 to 0.000007 percent of passes were bad

Chris I
Chris I
1 month ago
Reply to  Frank

I stopped calling out passes on trails like the Springwater after doing it for 20+ years. The vast majority of walkers are now distracted or listening to something with earbuds. I started having more issues with people panicking and moving to the left when I would call out “on your left” before passing, so I stopped doing it. I pass slowly and give plenty of space, but I’m done wasting my time with distracted walkers.

It’s always good to be aware of your surroundings. Motor vehicles are a much greater danger to pedestrians, and the injury and fatality statistics reflect that.

Msprague
Msprague
1 month ago

How about riders become smarter and ride only on safe, wide rural roads. I’m a past cyclist and see riders on roads they should never consider safe or smart to ride on. Personally, I’m fir licensing bikes to help cover improvements to the roads they enjoy using at driver’s expense.

Chris I
Chris I
1 month ago
Reply to  Msprague

My kids ride on the road. Would I need to take my 8 year old to the DMV to get them a license?

qqq
qqq
1 month ago
Reply to  Msprague

What makes those roads unsafe for biking?

rain panther
rain panther
26 days ago
Reply to  qqq

Exactly, and who decides?

Charley
Charley
1 month ago

While riding on SE 17th into Portland (two lanes, double yellow line), I have noticed that drivers who overtake me are highly influenced by my position in the lane.

If I ride smack dab in the middle of the lane, the majority of drivers move fully into the other lane and pass safely.

If I ride to the right hand side of the lane (near parked cars on my right) or near the gutter, the majority of drivers try to squeeze by me without violating the yellow lines. They’ll do this even if the passing distance is obviously tight!

Thus, trying to be a “polite” rider, off to the side, ends up feeling really unsafe.

The problem is that many drivers are completely oblivious to this. Riding in the middle of the lane would be fine, except for that small minority of drivers who seem to be personally insulted, and pass tightly anyway, or honk and harass me.

It’s exhausting to deal with this kind of unpredictable and dangerous behavior. Just take the other lane and pass!!!

I’d love to see some signage explaining that drivers can take the other lane.