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New Bicycle Law in Portland Could Create Hazards At Intersections

Intersections are one of the most common places for bicycle accidents to occur. Crashes and collisions can involve both motorists and pedestrians and leave victims with serious and potentially life-threatening injuries. A new law was recently put into effect in Oregon that changes the way bicyclists are to respond to stop signs and traffic signals. While advocates claim it will help improve the bicycling experience, those against the law cite concerns over safety risks. 

‘Idaho Law’ Goes Into Effect In Portland

Drivers in Portland and throughout Oregon are going to need to keep a closer watch for bicyclists in intersections as a result of newly enacted legislation. According to a news report by The Chronicle, Senate Bill 998 went into effect on January 1, 2020, and now alleviates the need for bicyclists to stop at crossroads with stop signs or flashing red lights. Nicknamed after similar legislation that passed in the midwest, the so-called ‘Idaho law’ still requires bicyclists to yield to pedestrians in crosswalks and vehicles already in the intersection. 

The change was influenced by a study concluding that having bicyclists stop completely at all intersections does not significantly improve traffic safety. Several bicyclists in Portland who were interviewed by The Chronicle were strongly in favor of the new law, claiming it would improve the overall riding experience. They also claim it will likely reduce the number of bicyclists who opt to travel on busy highways, increasing their bike accident risks, as a means of making better time and avoiding constant stops. 

Not everyone in the cycling community is in favor of the change though. Critics claim that putting the responsibility for making sound decisions at intersections solely on bicyclists is a bad idea and can create confusion. They also claim that the new law is likely to cause havoc among bicyclists, motorists, and pedestrians who are not aware of its passage, resulting in a greater risk of bicycle accidents.  

Bicycle Safety At Intersections

More than 10 percent of all motor vehicle, pedestrian, and bicycle accidents occur in intersections, according to the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA). While the new law gives bicyclists greater freedom at these locations, the risks still necessitate the need for caution. To prevent accidents and injuries, bicyclists should follow these tips: 

  • Remember that the new law applies only to stop signs and flashing red lights. 
  • You are still required to come to obey all other traffic signs and signals. 
  • Pedestrians still have the right of way in crosswalks, as do vehicles in the process of crossing. 
  • Do not assume that other drivers see you or are aware of the new law. 

Let Us Help You Today

At Johnston Law Firm, P.C. we help bicyclists get the compensation they need to recover when crashes and collisions occur. To discuss the options in your case, reach out and call (503) 546-3167 or contact our Portland bicycle accident attorneys online to schedule a consultation today. 


Marc Johnston

Lead Attorney at Johnston Law Firm, P.C.

Based in downtown Portland, Marc A. Johnston is the owner and managing attorney of the award-winning, internationally-known personal injury law firm, Johnston Law Firm, P.C. Marc's career has been dedicated to representing the injured and individuals who have been treated unfairly by an insurance company. His focus on trial law creates the backbone of the Johnston Law Firm — a firm that is ready to go the distance in seeking justice for its clients.