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BICYCLES AND THE LAW

BICYCLES ON SIDEWALKS

by Ray Thomas

Ray Thomas is a Portland bike lawyer.

We have been asked by readers over the years to assemble a reference guide
for laws in various cities around Oregon that regulate bicycle riding
on sidewalks. The law is clear that bicycle riders may ride their
bikes on any public road and sidewalk where not prohibited. A number
of cities in Oregon prohibit bicycle riding in on the sidewalk in
urban core areas. Sometimes these areas are not well marked; and
enforcement of the law is sometimes spotty. But it is important
to know where you stand (or sit) with the law, and we have contacted
a number of communities to find out their positions on bicycles
on sidewalks. Clip this article for your riding file and it may
save you a ticket if you think to look at it before you venture
onto the sidewalk in an unfamiliar area.

If you are cited for riding on the sidewalk, consider appearing
in court or writing a letter to the court explaining, if you have
a good reason, why you were on the sidewalk in the first place.
If you are cited in a city where the ordinance is not posted, impress
on the court that, unlike Corvallis, where bicyclists are warned
of the prohibition with signs, the city is not even warning bicyclists
that riding on the sidewalk might result in what is to you, an extraordinarily
large fine. Even if you were riding illegally on the sidewalk when
cited, if you appear in traffic court and explain why is that you
felt you had no safe alternative but to ride on the sidewalk, the
judge may reduce your fine.

For now, if you ride your bicycle on the sidewalk – and that
is your right anywhere in the state where doing so is not prohibited
by ordinance – you need to know and obey the laws, and, if
cited, be ready to pay the fine or argue in traffic court why you
were riding on the sidewalk, and why your choice was reasonable
or legal.

The following is the City Ordinance language for most major cities
in Oregon:

Ashland

§ 11.52.030: No person shall ride
or operate a bicycle on a sidewalk in the central business
district or commercial zone.

Maximum Fine Not to Exceed $500.00

Upon conviction, the court may, in addition to any other
penalty, order that the bicycle that was used at the time
of the offense be impounded until such time as may appear
just and reasonable.

Beaverton

§ 6.02.410: Prohibits riding upon a sidewalk
where official signs prohibit bicycle riding.

Fine Not to Exceed $50.00

Bend

§ 6.325: Prohibits riding a bicycle on a sidewalk
in any business district, except along an unimproved street
or underpass. However, in a business district, bicycles may
be ridden on sidewalks to deliver newspapers and messages
and to make other deliveries.

§ 6.910 Prohibited Riding Area:

Beginning at the southwest end of the 1200 block of Wall Street,
continuing south on Wall Street, to the north side of Newport
Avenue. Proceeding west on Newport Avenue to Mirror Pond (Deschutes
River). Then proceeding south along the Deschutes River from
Newport Avenue to the south side of Franklin Avenue. Continuing
east on Franklin Avenue to the west side of Broadway Street.
Proceed south on Broadway Street to the south side of Louisiana
Avenue. East on Louisiana Avenue from Broadway Street to the
west side of Wall Street. South on Wall Street from Louisiana
Avenue to the south side of Kansas Street. Continue easterly
from Kansas and Wall Street through the Administrative School
District property to the southeast corner of the intersection
of Kansas and Lava Street. Continue northeast on Lava Street
to the north side.

Amount Set By Judge

Corvallis

§ 6.10.060.100 Riding on Sidewalk. (2) No
person, except a Police Officer in the performance of his/her
official duties, shall ride a bicycle upon a sidewalk within
the following boundary, including any and all adjacent sidewalks:

The northerly side of NW Jackson Avenue between NW Fifth
Street and west side of the Riverfront bike path, the westerly
side of Fifth Street between NW Jackson Avenue and SW Jefferson
Avenue, and the southerly side of SW Jefferson Avenue to the
west side of the Riverfront bike path; and the northerly side
of Monroe Avenue between Fourteenth Street and Twenty-sixth
Street, and the southerly side of Monroe Avenue between Fourteenth
Street and Twenty-sixth Street.

Bail is $77.00

Eugene

§ 5.400 Operating Rules. (1) No person may
ride a bicycle on a sidewalk in that area bounded by the outer
limits of Charnelton Street on the west, 6th Avenue on the
north, Pearl Street on the east, and 11th Avenue on the south.
Violation Not to Exceed $50.00

In addition to or in lieu of a penalty for a bicycle violation,
the municipal judge may prohibit the operation of a bicycle
used in the violation on the streets of the city for a period
not to exceed 30 days. In such event, the chief of police
shall be directed to impound the bicycle, and retain it for
the period that the operation is prohibited, or the owner’s
registration card held for the period during which the operation
of the bicycle is prohibited.

Gresham

§ 8.55.070 Misuse of a Bicycle. Rides a bicycle
upon a sidewalk within the city, except for law enforcement
officers in the performance of their duties.

$175.00

If accident involved, fine increases to $235.00

Hillsboro

§ 10.28.100 Operation on sidewalks. Bicycles
and skateboards may be operated on sidewalks within the corporate
limits of the city excepting those sidewalks enumerated in
subsection (A) of this section, and under conditions enumerated
in subsections (B) and (C) of this section.

A. No person shall ride or operate any bicycle or skateboard
on sidewalks adjacent to streets or on Public Service Building
Grounds located within the following boundary: between the
north line of NE and NW Lincoln St. to the south line of SW
and SE Baseline St. and the east line of NE and SE 5th Ave.
to the west line of NW and SW Adams Ave.

B. Bicycles and skateboards ridden on sidewalks permitted
in this chapter may not be operated at a speed greater than
ten miles per hour.

C. Any person riding or operating a bicycle or skateboard
on any sidewalk of the city shall at all times yield the right-of-way
to pedestrians using the sidewalk and upon approaching an
area of pedestrian congestion, or children playing on the
sidewalk, shall dismount and walk the bicycle or skateboard
past the area of congestion or children at play. (Prior code
§§ 7-3.10)

McMinnville

§ 10.36.080 Riding–On Sidewalks. No
person shall ride a bicycle upon a sidewalk in the business
district bounded on the west by Adams Street, on the east
by Irvine, on the north by 5th Street and on the south by
1st Street. (Ord. 3629 §35(2), 1972).

$100.00 fine

Newberg

98-2500 Section 4. Prohibited Riding. No person shall
engage in a riding activity in an area designated as a Prohibited
Riding Area, as defined in Section 3(a).

Section 3(a) Riding as described in Section 1 is prohibited
on any sidewalk or other City property in the downtown commercial
area of the City or on a sidewalk or other City property adjacent
to Newberg City Buildings, except public streets. The downtown
commercial area is that area between River Street on the east,
Main Street on the west, the north right-of-way boundary of
Hancock Street on the north, and the south right-of-way boundary
of Second Street on the south.

Maximum Fine is $500.00

Bail $72.00

Portland

§ 16.70.320 Operating Rules. (Amended by Ord.
No. 165594, July 8, 1992.) No person may:

E. Ride a bicycle on a sidewalk, unless avoiding a traffic
hazard in the immediate area, within the area bounded by and
including SW Jefferson, Front Avenue, NW Hoyt and 13th Avenue,
except:

1. On sidewalks designated as bike lanes or paths;

2. On the ramps or approaches to any Willamette River Bridge;
or

3. In the area bounded by the west property line of SW Ninth
Avenue, the east property line of SW Park Avenue, the north
property line of SW Jefferson and the south property line
of SW Salmon Street.

4. For police or special officers operating a bicycle in
the course and scope of their duties; or

5. For employees of the Association for Portland Progress
and companies providing security services operating a bicycle
in the course and scope of their duties. These employees must
have in possession an identification card issued by the Chief
of Police certifying the rider has completed a training course
in the use of a bicycle for security patrol.

Maximum Fine is $500.00

Roseburg

§ 8.02.140 Regulations relating to recreational-type
or toy vehicles.

A. Roller Skates, In-Line Skates, Skateboards, Bicycles and
Other Devices.

2. Excepting Police Officers and Police Explorers operating
their bicycles in the course and scope of their duties, no
person shall operate or ride upon roller skates, in-line skates,
skateboards, bicycles or ride in, or by means of, any coaster,
toy vehicle or similar device upon any sidewalk within the
Downtown Development District as defined in Chapter 3.08 of
this Code.

Chapter 3.08

Bounded on the north by Douglas Avenue on the South by Lane
Street on the West by mid-block of Rose and Stephens and on
the East by mid-block between Main and Kane and includes the
Northwest corner of SE Stephens and SE Cass.

Fine Not to Exceed $1,500.00

May also impound for a period not to exceed twenty days.

Salem

§ 101.100 Riding Bicycles On Sidewalks. (a)
It shall be unlawful to ride a bicycle upon a sidewalk within
that area bounded by and including Front Street on the west,
save and except the bridges, Cottage Street on the east, Union
Street on the north, and Trade Street on the south; provided
this subsection shall not apply to three-wheeled bicycles
being ridden by a handicapped or elderly person.

Tigard

§ 10.36.100 Riding–On Certain Sidewalks
Prohibited. No person shall ride or operate any wheeled vehicle,
except wheelchairs, on any sidewalk adjacent and parallel
to SW Main Street; and provided further, that any person riding
any wheeled vehicle, excepting wheelchairs, on any sidewalk
in the city shall at all times yield the right-of-way to pedestrians
using such sidewalk.

5 days in City Jail or a fine not to exceed ten dollars,
or both, or bicycle may be impounded for a period not to exceed
fourteen days.

Troutdale

§ 10.24.010 Bicycles –General Requirements.
B. It shall be unlawful for the owner or operator of any bicycle
to ride or park the same upon any sidewalk or path constructed
for the use of and commonly used by pedestrians within the
corporate limits of the city.

Fine Not to Exceed $75.00

West Linn

§ 6.155 Bicycle Operating Rules. 1. Not ride
upon a sidewalk within a business district.

Class A Infraction – Maximum Fine $500.00

Wilsonville

§ 5.100 Bicycles – Operating Rules. (2) Not
ride a bicycle upon a sidewalk within areas as are from time
to time established by the City Council.

No set fine

If you do not see your city in this list, contact your local city
attorney or police department.

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