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Walking, Biking and Riding

Overview

Not all road users are drivers. Many individuals walk or ride motorcycles and bicycles. It is important for drivers to learn to share the road with all road users, and how walkers, bikers and riders can also be safe.
 
This page provides safety information for and about these vulnerable road users.

Pedestrian Safety
As a driver, always remember pedestrians have the right of way in the crosswalk. As a pedestrian, don't assume that drivers can see you or understand your intended path. 
 
The following are driver and pedestrian tips from The Highway Research Center at the University of North Carolina, and information about "walkable" communities.
 
Tips for Drivers
  • Drivers can encounter pedestrians anytime and anywhere, even in places where they are not expected.
  • Pedestrians can be very hard to see, especially in bad weather or at night, so drivers must keep a lookout and slow down if they can't see clearly.
  • When entering a crosswalk area, drive slowly and be prepared to stop.
  • Stop for pedestrians who are in a crosswalk, even if it is not marked.
  • When stopping for a pedestrian in a crosswalk, stop well back so drivers in the other lanes can also see the pedestrian in time to stop.
  • Do not overtake and pass other vehicles stopped for pedestrians.
  • When turning, drivers often have to wait for a "gap" in traffic, so beware during that period, pedestrians may have moved into the driver’s intended path.
  • Be especially attentive around schools and in neighborhoods where children are active.

Tips for Pedestrians 

  • Be predictable, stay off freeways and restricted zones.
  • Cross or enter streets where it is legal to do so.
  • Use sidewalks where provided.
  • Where there are no sidewalks, it is usually safer to walk facing road traffic.
  • Make it easy for drivers to see you by dressing in light colors and wearing retro-reflective material, and it might be wise to carry a flashlight in very dark areas.
  • Be wary, most drivers are nice people, but pedestrians should not count on them paying attention so watch out and make eye contact to be sure drivers see you!
  • Alcohol and drugs can impair the ability to walk safely, just as they do a person's ability to drive.
  • Use extra caution when crossing multiple-lane, higher speed streets, and do not assume that because one lane has stopped, drivers in the adjacent lane have seen you and will also stop.
  • Do the Safety Step - A Survival Guide for Pedestrians provides guidance on how to put your best foot forward and stay safe as a pedestrian. 
Walkability
If you are interested in learning if you live in a "walkable" community, there is a real estate related Web site that provides a relative "walkability" score for most metropolitan areas. You just enter an address in the area provided.

Bicycle Safety
Image of bicyclesBicycling is a popular mode of transportation in Oregon. Miles of bike trails and a fitness-conscious population result in numerous bicyclists on or near Oregon’s roadways. In Oregon, bicycles are considered vehicles and must follow vehicle laws when riding on the roadway. 
 
The Oregon Department of Transportation’s Bicycle and Pedestrian Program provides information on the state’s Bicycle & Pedestrian Plan, pedestrian and bicyclist laws, scenic bikeways, research and workshops on bicycle and pedestrian safety, and other information.
 
Tips for Bicyclists
  • Be visible. Wear light colored or reflective clothing. Use lights front and back when riding at night or in other conditions when visibility is reduced.
  • Ride on the right. It is unsafe to ride on the road against the direction of traffic.
  • Signal lane changes and turns with hand signals. Motorists often are very nervous driving around bicyclists because they don’t know what to expect. They will generally give you more space and time to make your turn if they know what you intend to do.
  • Take the lane when necessary. If a lane is so narrow that passing is dangerous, you may need to take the lane briefly to make that clear to drivers behind you. Also, take the lane when moving at the speed of traffic, such as when traveling down hills or on downtown streets.
  • Stay out of the “door zone.” Be far enough away from parked cars that if someone opens a door without looking, you don’t have to swerve suddenly.
  • Obey traffic laws. Bicycles are considered vehicles under state traffic laws and must comply with the law.
 Tips for drivers
  • Be especially attentive around schools and cautious in residential neighborhoods where children are active. These are places where you are most likely to encounter children on bicycles. Children, by their nature, are unpredictable.
  • Leave a safe distance between your car and a bicyclist when passing.
  • When you are traveling at a speed greater than 35 mph, you may only pass a bicyclist by driving to the left when the passing distance is sufficient to prevent contact with the person operating the bicycle if the person were to fall into the driver’s lane. If passing safely is not possible, you must slow down and follow until there is an opportunity to safely pass.
  • Don’t follow too closely. Bicyclists are allowed to “take the lane” if there is not room for motorists to safely pass. Most bicyclists would prefer to be out of your way, and will allow you to pass as soon as safely possible.
  • Do not honk at a bicyclist, unless you have good cause to warn the rider you are close by. The loud noise could startle the rider. There may be a good reason for the bicyclist to be riding in the travel lane, such as roadway hazards not visible to motorists.
  • Check the bike lane before turning. The bike lane is a travel lane. Be sure to check for bicycles in the lane when turning across it. Bicyclists often move as quickly as cars, particularly in the city. If you’ve just passed a bicyclist, check to make sure there is plenty of space before turning across their path.
  • Look before opening your door to avoid opening your door in front of other cars, bikes, or pedestrians.
Motorcycle Safety
Image of motorcyclesProper understanding of safety practices for motorcycles is essential for everyone, but particularly for 50+ riders who may be returning to motorcycle riding or for those who are novice riders. A motorcyclist should attend a rider-training course to learn how to operate his/her vehicle and to obtain the required license to operate a motorcycle in Oregon. Other drivers should allow a motorcycle a full lane width and signal your intentions, to avoid a motorcycle being in your blind spot. Allow a longer following distance from a motorcycle than with other vehicles. Motorcycle drivers should follow the rules of the road, be alert to other drivers, and wear protective gear.  Remember, most mopeds or scooters are considered a motorcycle so do not attempt to ride one without an operator’s permit.
 
The Oregon DMV provides a Motorcycle and Moped Manual which includes information about motorcycle and moped road rules and safe riding practices.

Related Information
Additional information that may be relevant includes:
  • Oregon’s nationally recognized Team Oregon is the official program for all motorcycle riding training and course. Team Oregon offers basic and intermediate courses to get riders licensed the right way, and advanced programs that challenge even the most experienced riders.
  • The Bicycle Transportation Alliance (BTA) is a non-profit membership organization working to promote bicycling and improve bicycling conditions in Oregon.
  • The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has a publication entitled Mature Adults: Be Healthy, Walk Safely that helps mature adults maintain safety while walking, whether they are walking for exercise or to run errands.  
  • The Oregon Transportation Safety Division’s Motorcycle Safety Program promotes safe motorcycle riding through beginning, intermediate and experienced TEAM OREGON Motorcycle Safety Program rider training courses, and public information and education programs. 
  • The Oregon Department of Transportation’s Pedestrian Safety Program provides education, enforcement, public information, and collaboration with engineering and design.
  • The walkinginfo.org Pedestrian and Bicycle Information Center provides safety information as well as tools to help seniors determine how safe their neighborhood is for walking and offers opportunities to get involved with the promotion of "walkable" communities.
  • The Ride Oregon Web site provides information on finding bike service in Oregon, traveling with a bike, biking clubs, maps and guidebooks, suggestions for inspirational rides and upcoming events.