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Bicycle Safety

Portland and the Northwest have a national reputation for being bicycle-friendly cities. Having the bicycle lanes, boulevards, and designated bicycle boxes on public roads require awareness and responsibility from both the bicyclist and the driver.

The responsibilities of bicyclists are as follows:

  • Always assume the motorist cannot see you and bike defensively.  When riding by parked cars, be aware of people who may open their doors while you are biking by them.
  • Be visible by wearing bright reflective clothing, using flashing lights, and reflectors.
  • Signal to the motorist so they know what to expect.
  • Use bike lanes and bike paths whenever possible.  It may be quicker to bike on a busy street, but it is not as safe.
  • It is better to be safe than to be right.

As a bicyclist, if you do get hit by a motor vehicle, here is what you should do:

  • Survey the scene to see if you are in immediate danger.  If you can safely move to the side of the road, do so.
  • Make sure you or a witness stops the driver to exchange insurance information.  Refrain from saying anything unnecessary to the driver (including profanities or apologies.)
  • Have somebody call the police.
  • If you have a camera available, immediately take pictures of the scene.
  • Talk to the driver in a rational manner in order to get his or her phone number, address, insurance policy information, license plate, and driver’s license number.
  • Wait for the police to show up and get their name, badge number, and a carbon copy of the information form.
  • Call (503) 823-2103 to report the accident, (Portland Police Traffic Division).
  • Document your injuries and damages to your bicycle and accessories.

To prevent motor vehicle and bicycle collisions, the motorist’s responsibility is:

  • Check the bike lane before veering right into it.
  • Use your turn signal so bicyclists can anticipate your next move.
  • When passing a bicyclist, give ample room, instead of speeding right by them. If an oncoming car prevents you from giving ample room, wait for that car to pass.
  • Do not honk or yell at a bicyclist, especially when unprovoked.  Most cyclists are concentrating on their ride and honking and yelling is startling.
  • If the bicyclist is in the roadway, avoid following too closely.
  • Look before opening your car door, particularly if that door is in the bike lane.
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