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Plenty of Oregon pedestrian laws, but none for jaywalking

I was driving around Medford with my son over the holidays, and I noticed how many people were running or strolling across Riverside Avenue — seemingly every which way. What are the rules for jaywalking in Oregon?

— Artie, Oakland, California

Those Southern Oregonians on the street weren’t acting lawlessly, Artie.

According to Medford police Lt. Mike Budreau, the closest thing to a jaywalking law on the books is Oregon Revised Statute 814.070, “Improper position upon a highway,” but there have been limits on the law since 2017.

A pedestrian is in violation of the law if they walk in a roadway instead of a usable sidewalk or shoulder, according to Oregon Department of Transportation’s “Pedestrian, Bicycle and Driver Rules” book.

Budreau said in an email that the Class D traffic violation once covered a variety of instances of pedestrians in a roadway, but that changed in April 2017, after the Oregon State Court of Appeals ruling in Oregon v. Daynanthony Tyler.

The court ruled that the law only applies to pedestrians walking along the road — not crossing it — and only on particular roadways.

For the record, a Class D violation is the lowest-severity of traffic violation on Oregon’s books, in the same category as going 1 to 10 mph over the speed limit, according to the Oregon Judicial Department’s schedule of fines effective since January 2018. The violation carries a maximum fine of $250, a minimum fine of $65 and a presumptive fine of $115.

In particularly egregious cases, Budreau said, a pedestrian could face a charge of disorderly conduct, a misdemeanor. Under ORS 166.025, a pedestrian can be charged with the Class B misdemeanor if the pedestrian “obstructs vehicular or pedestrian traffic on a public way.”

As long as they’re not causing a traffic hazard for vehicles, pedestrians are free to cross a city street from any point, according to ODOT. Pedestrians do, however, forfeit their right of way.

That’s not to say pedestrians can do no wrong. Walkers who don’t obey one of those Walk/Don’t Walk signals, fail to yield to a vehicle on the roadway, or fail to yield to an ambulance are also committing Class D traffic violations, according to the 62-page ODOT rule book.

Other less common but interesting Class D violations that pedestrians can commit, according to the ODOT rulebook, are unlawful use of a white cane — as in any person not blind who carries a white cane in public and on roadways — and unlawful hitchhiking, which is being in the roadway for the purpose of soliciting a ride.

For bicyclists, the rulebook describes routine Class D violations that include failing to use a bike lane or failing to signal a turn, plus more notable violations such as a nonmotorized vehicle clinging to another vehicle,” failing to use a bicycle seat, and unlawful passengers on a bicycle.

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 youasked@rosebudmedia.com. We’re sorry, but the volume of questions received prevents us from answering all of them.