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The road rules for riding bicycles in pairs

What is the rule on how bicyclists are supposed to ride when in groups? I come upon them frequently on country roads — taking up the entire lane, chatting away — hence they can't hear the car coming up behind them and don't move over. In one case at a stop light, one rider was on the side of the road and one in the middle of the lane, and she had ample opportunity to move to the side prior to the light. To me, it seems completely inconsiderate and dangerous for bicyclists to put themselves in between cars like that.

— El

The best place to find the answer to your question is in reading the full statute that applies, which is found in ORS 814.430.

It says, in short, that 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 also can ride up to two abreast within the lane, so long as they do not impede the normal and reasonable movement of traffic. Of course, normal and reasonable is one of those subjective "eye of the beholder" type clauses that may be open to dispute based on which person is presenting it.

I think it will all come down to how wide the road is, are there stretches for vehicles to pass and what is the volume of traffic on the road?

As far as stopping in the lane at the stop signal, I can relate somewhat, having done a fair amount of bicycle riding over the past several months.

In one instance my usual ride takes me through Jacksonville, and I have to stop at a stop sign on the South Stage leg entering downtown. I tend to move into the travel lane at that time because I don't like having a vehicle come up right next to me from behind and not know whether the driver is turning right (into me) or going straight ahead.

I think it also makes it easier for drivers from other directions to be able to worry about only me and my turn in line, rather than worrying about two vehicles (a vehicle and me on a bike) side by side and maybe going in different directions at different times.

Bicycles are considered vehicles in Oregon and are subject to the vehicle code laws, but they are also entitled to the same rights as other vehicles.

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.