Governor Kate Brown recently signed into law Oregon House Bill 2682 which extends a bicycle lane through an intersection IF a bicycle lane is marked on the opposite side of an intersection in same direction of travel. The caveat (after the IF) to the original bill was added as it made its way from the Oregon House to the Senate. Effective date for the law is January 1, 2020.
It's a step in the right direction affording common-sense legal protection to those who travel by bicycle around our state. We wholeheartedly support the new law as it just makes sense to codify a legal obligation for those who travel by car to yield to those lawfully pedaling through an intersection. That said, we wonder, Will the new law offer practical protection?
As demonstrated in the tragic November 2017 case of 31-year-old Jonathan Chase Adams who was killed while bicycle commuting to work by a FedEx semi-truck driver at the intersection of NW Wall and Hill Streets in Bend, new laws are helpful in court, but are a poor substitute for tangible, on-the-ground protection.
As Ariel Mendez, Bend Bikes Board President, pointed out in a blog post last year,
"... it is misguided to think that the best way to make our streets safer is by holding individual drivers more accountable. The way to prevent these nightmares is not to vilify individual drivers or riders, but to look for ways to improve the safety of the system overall.
That’s not to say that individual accountability plays no role. For example, better and more consistent enforcement would make roadways safer for all. Improving overall safety requires looking at safer designs that make streets inherently safer, things like bike boxes that improve the visibility of cyclists. And of course, there is no substitute for a network of protected bike lanes that would allow cyclists and vehicles to get across town without sharing as much of the same space."