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If bike lane is present, bicyclists must use it

I saw the following scenario twice this past week as I was driving along Siskiyou Boulevard in Ashland. There are painted bike lanes on both sides of Siskiyou. As I pulled up to a red light on Siskiyou at Indiana, a man on a bicycle was in the right lane and not in the bike lane. The bike lane was unoccupied at the time. When the light turned green, the man continued to ride in the right lane until I honked, at which time he moved over to the bike lane. He seemed displeased with my honking. A second situation occurred later in the week. Two people were riding their bikes along Siskiyou; one was in the bike lane and the other in the travel lane. Again, it required my honking at them before the one person pulled over into the bike lane. When there is a bike lane adjacent to a street/highway/road, isn't it the law that the bike rider ride in the bike lane, or can the person lawfully ride in the travel lane otherwise used by motor vehicles?

— Robert J., Ashland

When it comes to rules of the road for bicyclists, there are a lot of "if/then" scenarios. If, as you say, there is a bicycle lane, then the governing rule is covered under ORS 814.420, titled Failure To Use A Bicycle Lane Or Path. In short, it says that a bicyclist must use the bike lane if there is a bike lane adjacent or near the roadway. Exceptions are when passing another bike, a pedestrian or a vehicle already in the bike lane. Other exceptions are for avoiding debris or hazards and positioning to turn right or left. Violations of this statute are a Class D violation, cited at $142.

If there is no bicycle lane, then bicyclists are allowed to ride in the travel lane, but are to be as close as practicable to the right side of the roadway. They can also ride two abreast within the lane, so long as they do not impede the normal and reasonable movement of traffic.

Dace Cochran, a patrol sergeant with the Jackson County Sheriff's Department, writes a weekly Q&A column on police issues for the Mail Tribune. Have a question for him? Write to Mail Tribune Newsroom, P.O. Box 1108, Medford, OR 97501, or email cochradc@jacksoncounty.org.