Since You Asked: Who has the right of way?
Today I was turning right out of a business driveway onto a one-way street. I came to a stop, looked left for traffic, then proceeded out onto the road. Out of nowhere, a bicyclist going against traffic, riding on the sidewalk, yelled at me to look both ways. Now, I believe I did not do anything wrong because it was a one-way street. He seemed to think I was wrong even though he was traveling against traffic and riding on the sidewalk (which I know is not legal downtown). Since I don't appreciate being yelled at, I'd like to know, who is right?
— Andrea N., Medford
We at Since You Asked hate getting yelled at, too, Andrea, and that extends to emails and social-media posts. It's the pits. So thank you for not writing your question IN ALL CAPS.
Now, down to business. As to who is at fault, it really depends on where you were. Bicycles and skateboards are prohibited on sidewalks in the downtown Medford "corridor area." Those boundaries are, north to south, 10th to Sixth streets, and Riverside Avenue to Oakdale Avenue east to west. So if it occurred in that area, which you suggest, the bicyclist was at fault.
If a similar circumstance happened outside that boundary, however, police say the driver would be at fault. If they are outside the downtown corridor, bicyclists can ride on the sidewalk as long as they are not exceeding the speed of an ordinary walk, Medford police said. You can see all the specifics under ORS 811.410. However, If the bicyclist were riding in the roadway, he or she would be at fault, because that is the same thing as a vehicle driving the wrong way.
Finally, it's a good practice for motorists to always stop and look both ways prior to crossing a sidewalk and make sure it's clear in both directions before proceeding — even if you're pulling onto a one-way street. Walkers and joggers can come from any direction, and we've all seen wrong-way drivers, so better safe than sorry, regardless of whose right-of-way it is.
In any case, we're glad you're both OK. And as for that bicyclist, we suggest he chill out. Yelling doesn't fix anything.
Send questions to “Since You Asked,” Mail Tribune Newsroom, P.O. Box 1108, Medford, OR 97501; by fax to 541-776-4376; or by email to firstname.lastname@example.org. We’re sorry, but the volume of questions received prevents us from answering all of them.