I received a complaint today from a bicyclist who wanted to know whether it is legal to put garbage cans, sandwich signs, etc., in a bike lane. He was talking about South Stage Road. His complaint is that items in a bike lane cause cyclists to have to swerve into a traffic lane, causing potential car/bike problems and irritating motorists. He said that he stopped and asked a traffic deputy if he could cite people for placing obstructions in a bike lane and was told there is no law against it. I advised him that, to my knowledge, the only such law is a motor vehicle using or moving in the bike path other than making a right turn. I told him I would forward the question to you.
— Jackson County Sheriff's Department community service officer
After some research it appears you are correct, with some exceptions. The Oregon Vehicle Code prohibits vehicles from being in bicycle lanes. There is nothing regarding the placement of other obstructions in the bicycle lane. However, if you're in the city of Medford, you have to look at its municipal codes, and they do prohibit placing obstructions in the right of way, of which bicycle lanes are included.
In the county, according to County Engineer Mike Kuntz, even though some roads, such as South Stage Road, may have bicycle logos painted on the pavement, they are not designated as bike lanes but as road shoulders. So there really is no enforceable law or ordinance in place in the county.
I also contacted Rogue Disposal and Recycling, as I remember getting a flyer from them a year or two ago regarding proper placement of garbage roll carts. They had already heard of the South Stage complaint, and here's what a helpful Holly McHugh wrote to me:
"Our Operations Manager has already been in contact with the county on this matter. We have provided this flyer to the county, and the residents of South Stage Road will each receive a flyer attached to their roll cart on their next two collection days. For the next two weeks, the driver will empty the roll cart, wherever it has been placed for collection — in the bike lane or on the curb. Once the cart is emptied, the driver will 'tag' the cart with this flyer, then properly place the cart where it needs to sit for future service, out of the bike lane.
"On the second week, if the customer has once again placed the cart in the bike lane, the driver will empty it, tag it and again place it out of the lane. The driver will then radio the customer service office, and we will call the customer directly so we can resolve the issue."
Reach patrol Sgt. Dace Cochran with the Jackson County Sheriff's Department by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.