Get Legal with Ray Thomas: The skinny on sidewalk riding

Buffered Bike Lane with a bike symbol and arrow pointing forward
Weidler detour on sidewalk-6

Learn the laws about sidewalk riding.
(Photos © J Maus/BikePortland)

People that bike, walk (or roll, in the case of wheelchair and electric scooter users) share sidewalks every day, and the combination of modes can cause conflict and confusion. Oregon law, however, is very clear on right-of-way and the legal conduct required when you are bicycling on the sidewalk.

Legal clarity aside, the devil is in the details.

One problem is that bicycle operators travel much faster than walkers and require considerably greater distance to turn and stop. When bicycle traffic is constricted, such as on bridges and other multi-use paths, the inevitable congestion magnifies the impact of the small steering or control mistakes that lead to occasional collisions.

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Get Legal with Ray Thomas: What to do if you’re in a collision

Buffered Bike Lane with a bike symbol and arrow pointing forward
Scene of right hook NE Couch and Grand-1

It might never happen to you,
but just in case…
(Photo © J. Maus/BikePortland)

What should you do if you are in a collision with a motor vehicle? First, be prepared. While the odds may be pretty good that you will never be involved in a collision there are several tips you can follow which will make any collision less of a disruption in your life. An understanding of the fundamentals of insurance, medical services, and the legal system will help you after your collision.

This article is a very basic primer on these areas.

If you are in a collision

If you do get in a collision with an automobile while riding your bicycle, make sure that you obtain complete and accurate information about the driver. It is an unfortunate fact of modern life that some people with driving and insurance problems carry false identification. Make sure that the driver shows you an official document such as a driver license or other photo ID as well as a certificate of current insurance coverage before they leave the scene of the collision. If they will not do so, then call the police.

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Get Legal with Ray Thomas: Harassment of Bicycle Riders

Buffered Bike Lane with a bike symbol and arrow pointing forward

Ray Thomas
(Photo © J. Maus/BikePortland)

Welcome to our new legal column with Ray Thomas. Ray has been a legal resource for Portlanders (and beyond) for many years and we’ve used him as a source on countless stories. Now we plan to give him a greater presence on BikePortland. Disclaimer: Ray’s law firm Swanson Thomas Coon & Newton, is a BikePortland advertiser. As always, I welcome your feedback either in the comments or directly via email. Thanks for reading. — Jonathan

What can you do if someone harasses you while you are riding your bike? The first and best advice is to not do anything that gets you hurt, remember what you can in order to identify the perpetrators later, and call law enforcement.

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