Brush up on your bike rules of the road

April 28, 2020 by PEMCO Insurance

May is National Bike Month, celebrating the health and clean-air choices that thousands of Northwest cyclists make every day. Their commitment to a two-wheeled lifestyle has pushed Portland and Seattle into the nation's top-10 bike-friendly cities (Portland is No. 2, Seattle is No. 7).

Still, despite our region's bike-friendly culture, both drivers and cyclists sometimes are fuzzy on the rules of the road.


Before you and your family take that next socially distanced, get-out-of-the-house ride, test your knowledge of Washington and Oregon's bike laws:

       True           False      

  1.  ⃞           ⃞           Bicyclists may ride two abreast in a lane of traffic.
  2.  ⃞           ⃞           Cars approaching intersections may enter green bike boxes to make free right turns at a stoplight.
  3.  ⃞           ⃞           All cyclists are required to wear helmets.
  4.  ⃞           ⃞           Bicyclists may ride on the sidewalk.
  5.  ⃞           ⃞           Bicyclists may ride against the flow of traffic.
  6.  ⃞           ⃞           Drivers must allow three feet of distance when passing a bike.

Answers – Bicycle rules of the road

  1. True.
  2. It depends. In Oregon, cars can turn across the green boxes at intersections but unlike Washington, they can't merge into them in preparation for a turn.
  3. It depends. Oregon requires helmets for riders under 16 and riders who travel along highways or other areas open to the public. Washington has no statewide law, but in both states, cities and counties may mandate helmets for all riders.
  4. True (unless prohibited by local law), but some common-sense rules apply including limiting speed and yielding to pedestrians.
  5. False. Riders are required to ride with the flow of traffic.
  6. Technically false. While neither state mandates a specific number of feet, both require a "safe" distance. Oregon law clarifies that as "… a distance that is sufficient to prevent contact with the person operating the bicycle if the person were to fall into the driver's lane of traffic."


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