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» Bike lanes must be used, except for …

HASSO HERING

A perspective from Oregon’s mid-Willamette Valley

Bike lanes must be used, except for …

Written November 3rd, 2019 by Hasso Hering

Safely standing in the bike lane on Second Avenue on Sept. 18, 2019.

In Oregon law there’s an offense called “failure to use a bicycle lane or path.” It’s a Class D traffic violation, but there’s no practical way to enforce it. And the Albany Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Commission last month agreed to recommend education rather than trying to hit violators with tickets.

The advisory board discussed it at length when it met on Oct. 22. You can listen to the audio here.

The consensus was that nothing would be gained by going through the cumbersome process the law lays out in order for the requirement to be enforceable. Instead, it would likely do more good if the city made an effort to educate people on the safety benefits of cyclists properly using the available lanes.

Proper use includes riding in the right direction, a point brought home to me when I was riding on Queen Avenue a few days ago and looked up just in time to evade a wrong-way skateboarder heading my way.

The law (ORS 814.420) says cyclists are not required to ride in the bike lane “unless the state or local authority with jurisdiction over the roadway finds, after public hearing, that the bicycle lane or bicycle path is suitable for safe bicycle use at reasonable rates of speed.”

Albany has about 50 miles of bike lanes, and the city council would have to hold hearings on each one, perhaps block by block, in order to enable the police to ticket any cyclist they happen to see outside that lane.

Even then, the law also says there is no violation if a cyclist rides outside the lane in order to pass someone, prepare to make a turn, avoid debris or other hazards, or go through an intersection. Considering the amount of broken glass and other debris on many bike lanes, it would be tough to make the requirement stick even if the council authorized that it be done.

In any case, cyclists use bike lanes whenever possible without being forced. Without those lanes on Pacific, Santiam, Waverly, Geary, Queen and other major roads, riding a bike through Albany would be far more risky than it is. (hh)



8 responses to “Bike lanes must be used, except for …”

  1. Terry says:

    I think they should take that tack with motor vehicles as well. I’m sure actual enforcement won’t help at all…..
    Stupidest idea they could have formulated!
    Par for the course!

  2. Jim Engel says:

    H.H., you must be the exception here in obeying the bike lane law. Encountering bicyclists daily while driving I find that most just maneuver willy-nilly while on the roadway regardless of a bike lane. Against traffic, ignore traffic lights, cross the road at any old place, jut out into traffic, NO lights at night, push the right-of-way issue at intersections…need I go on?! At least I can say they are staying fit!

    On the highways I do try to give them a wide clearance & might just slow down for safety.

    Now…about daylight savings time…..:>) :>) :>)….enough!

  3. John Klock says:

    Thanks, our dependence on automobiles to get around and create traffic jams is, putting it politely, insane.

  4. J. Jacobson says:

    If bikes can travel in any traditionally motor vehicle lane they wish, does the same rule apply to motorized vehicles use of bike lanes? If not, why not? The Bicycle Elite feel entitled to obey or ignore all traffic rules as they run stop signs, fail to disembark before crossing, run lights and fail to signal. Yet just dare to come an inch too close to some feckless, reckless bicyclist and see the vitriolic response you’ll receive. The mean streets are mean for a reason.

  5. John Klock says:

    Albany’s inconsiderate bike population ride down the sidewalks, ride on the opposite side of the street, cross the street with quickly approaching in-coming traffic, and do not wear helmets, nor do they know the bike laws. What the commenter above should be looking at are bicyclists who wear helmets, stay in lanes, almost always have blinking lights and are cautious. These are the true, caring bicyclists? Why? Because they value their lives. They care about many things in their communities and are well-educated taxpayers, not transients who could care less about the place they live.

  6. J. Jacobson says:

    I suggest an investigation into the cozy elation ship between the Council and the Bicycling cabal. Obviously there is a great deal of collusion going on here…all designed to allow the Pedalists to avoid reasonable regulation.

  7. J. Jacobson says:

    Hering writes insouciantly about bicyclist shortcomings “In Oregon law there’s an offense called “failure to use a bicycle lane or path.” It’s a Class D traffic violation, but there’s no practical way to enforce it.“

    Hering is probably correct in practical terms, but his indifference to the rule of law is disturbing. Hering is a scion of Albany, a man of influence if for no other reason than sheer stubbornness. Consequently his words have consequences.

    Respect for the rule of law is not, nor should it ever be, dependent on whether you think you might or might not get caught doing whatever it is you’re doing. A coherent society depends on people believing in the greater good over the selfishness of personal interest.

    Thus, when community leaders turn a cold shoulder to social order, it can be difficult to know the fallout across the broader community. Thumbing one’s nose at the law, particularly in simple, non-controversial matters of public safety seems shortsighted.

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