Bicycle Attorney Michael A. Colbach Attorney at Law, PC  is a Portland, Oregon bicycle accident attorney and trial lawyer with proven results.

Following some of the big news in Oregon bicycle law and Portland bicycle laws.

Do bike lanes exist in intersections? Cyclists can treat stop signs as yield (Idaho Stop). Green bike boxes and blue bike lanes history in Portland and right hook bicycle v. car accidents. And Vision Zero, so much hope, still hoping. And the joy of the bike bus and safe routes to school.

Oregon mulls 'bike bus bill' to fund alternative transportation to school

Mar. 06, 2023 - Currently schools can only use state funding for bus transportation.

It's named after the chaperoned bike rides that have become popular at some schools, where an adult will bike a route much like a school bus, picking up students along the way to join the growing group ride to class. The bill would allow school districts to use money from their existing transportation budgets to fund alternative transportation for students — such as to pay for chaperones to walk or bike kids to school, crossing guards, or public transit passes for students.

Some of the written testimony from the Bike Bus Bill is just fantastic to read and see the images.

From bicycle transportation coach whose written testimony is only out done with the pictures of kids with huge smiles on bicycles, Megan Ramey, Safe Routes to School Manager for Hood River County School District:

Like many small towns and cities in Oregon, Hood River is bisected by a 4-lane highway, an incredible barrier for children to traverse from their house to the school. Naturally, parents only feel comfortable with their children riding the bus or driving them and the small number of kids who walk or bike to school are those who don't traverse the barrier or don't have a choice.

Or the great Coach Balto with the now world famous Portland public school Alameda Bike Bus testimony:

You may know that several months ago my school Alameda Elementary created a Bike Bus in which hundreds of students bike to school weekly. It is a phenomenal success. It started with 75 students and now has over 190 students who have participated which is over a 1/3rd of the student body. Students and families are overwhelmingly enthusiastic and students report a greater sense of togetherness, greater physical activity and well being and a stronger sense of self. Bike Bus videos have gone viral with 10s of millions of views and we were featured on NBC Nightly News.

Yes so much joy, it made the NBC Nightly News.


January 1, 2020 Oregon cyclists can use the Idaho Stop.

Bicyclists can treat stop signs like yield signs, Oregon Senate says

Oregon bicycling advocates have pushed for the rule change for more than a decade, arguing it's a common sense law that's worked for more than 35 years in Idaho. Other states have followed suit and passed legislation similar to the so-called Idaho Stop.

Cyclists to Treat Stop Signs Like Yield Signs

A similar "stop and go" bill was introduced in 2003, but didn't make it out of Senate committee; in 2009, Rep. Jules Bailey offered another iteration of the Idaho Stop, but was unsuccessful. A decade later, he says, legislators "have done a better job of setting expectations around the bill, and a better job of addressing legitimate concerns."

Update 2018 - 2019

The Bulletin (Bend / Central Oregon) October 16, 2018

FedEx driver not guilty in accident that killed cyclist
Judge rules man killed in intersection was not protected by bike lane

A Deschutes County Circuit Court judge on Tuesday ruled a cyclist hit and killed in an intersection by a FedEx truck did not have the protection of a bike lane [...] Prosecutor Andrew Steiner said many people today do not treat bike lanes like vehicle lanes, though they are. [...] Steiner attempted to make the case that bike lanes continue through intersections, citing Oregon Department of Transportation guidelines for road construction and recent court cases and legislation in Oregon.

And now you can help Oregon House Bill 2682 become law by letting your Oregon state representatives know what you think about HB 2682, the "bike lane" bill.

People For Bikes have a handy form to assist you if you wish to use it. Bend Bikes also has the contact info for emailing their local Oregon representative (who is not supporting the Bill as of February 27, 2019) and good explanation of the events that have unfolded.

Here is an op-ed from the co-sponsors of this bike lane bill Oregon state representatives from Portland and Beaverton:

Schouten, Nosse: Let's protect bicyclists at intersections

State legislators say biking is eco-friendly option and Oregon should do more to be bicycle-friendly

March 27, 2019

This is madness. To avoid visual confusion, we don't paint every lane line in our intersections. And nobody claims automobile travel lanes don't exist within an intersection. So the failure to acknowledge that bike lanes continue through intersections is both strange and troubling. Now, to correct the confusion, we are co-sponsoring legislation (House Bill 2682) that will explicitly extend this legal protection to cyclists crossing intersections.

And happy to update that as of April 16, 2019 this Oregon House Bill 2682 which "clarifies that bicycle lane continues in and through intersection where markings are interrupted by intersection" has been approved by its Oregon Legislature Joint Committee On Transportation.

If the bill is becomes law, it will ammend Oregon Revised Statute 801.155 Relating to bicycle lanes:

"Bicycle lane" means that part of the highway, adjacent to the roadway, designated by official signs or markings for use by persons riding bicycles except as otherwise specifically provided by law. Where the markings of a bicycle lane are interrupted by an intersection, the bicycle lane continues in and through the intersection.

And one more important update May 2019Bike lanes exist in an intersection, Oregon lawmakers affirm (May 7, 2019 The Oregonian)

Oregon lawmakers confirmed Monday that a bike lane still exists when interrupted by an intersection, despite the absence of paint on the roadway. The Oregon Senate voted Monday to clarify the state's definition of a bike lane, adding language that the lane "exists in an intersection if the bicycle lane is marked on opposite sides of the intersection in the same direction of travel."

It took 10 years, but, Governor Kate Brown signed it into Law on May 14, 2019 and it will go into effect January 1, 2020.

Vision Zero Act 2015

One death on our city streets is too many.

Thank you Representatives Blumenauer and Vern Buchanan.

Representatives Earl Blumenauer and Vern Buchanan, Co-Chairs of the Congressional Bike Caucus, introduced H.R. 1274, the Vision Zero Act of 2015. Communities across the country are recognizing that there is only one number of acceptable deaths on our streets: zero. “Vision Zero” is the goal of eliminating all transportation-related fatalities, including pedestrians, bicyclists, transit users, motorists and passengers. Cities from New York to Los Angeles are implementing interagency Vision Zero plans connecting engineering, education, and enforcement, to reach the goal of ending transportation deaths.

Portland Vision Zero

Of course Portland is a city that embraced Vision Zero. With Federal transportation support and local advocates, engineers and traffic design experts, our transportation future is looking brighter.

Portland Transportation Vision Zero Action

Vision Zero: Eliminating Traffic Deaths and Serious Injuries

Portland families deserve safe streets on which to walk, bike, operate mobility devices, access transit, and drive. Portland Bureau Of Transportation aims to make our transportation system the safest possible and to move toward zero traffic-related fatalities and serious injuries in the next 10 years.

Although Portland's traffic fatality rate is among the lowest of the 50 biggest cities, the number of pedestrians, bicyclists, and motorists killed on our roadways each year has remained flat over the past 20 years. During that time period, an average of 37 Portlanders died in traffic collisions annually, including 12 pedestrians, 2 bicyclists, and 24 motorists each year.

To achieve zero deaths or serious injuries, we will develop and implement a multi-faceted approach.

The interactive Portland crash map 2011 - 2023 data

The interactive Portland crash map gives users a sense of where potential dangerous roads are because it shows where traffic deaths and injury accidents have occured. You can see pedestrians only, bicyclists, or all crash data. "In 2022, 63 people died in traffic crashes in Portland. That is the same number of people killed in 2021, and a higher death toll than we've seen in at least three decades."

  • Portland 2022 Deadly Traffic Crash Report: Learn about trends from this past year
  • High Crash Network: Portland streets and intersections where many deadly crashes occur. "High Crash Network streets and intersections in Portland. High Crash Network streets make up 8 percent of Portland streets but account for more than half of traffic deaths." You can see the map and also view the streets and intersections as a list. The list also helps you drill down to high crashes for all, high crashes for pedestrians, and high crashes for biking.
  • Oregon Department of Transportation: Provides summary reports and raw data upon request

Green Bike Lanes, Blue Bike Lanes, Portland Bicycle History

City of Portland Transportation Office Green Bike Box Press Release

Before Green Bike Boxes, and Bike Lanes, Portland Had Blue Bike Lanes.

Blue Bike Lanes Denoted A Conflict Area In An Experiment To Improve Bicycle Safety

Before the green bike boxes, trouble spots were marked with blue paint in the bike lane.

As of spring 2009, the city still maintains the below page and information on the blue bike lane markings. However, on inspection, some previously blue bike lanes are now green while some bike routes are still marked with the Blue Bike Lane (for instance heading West toward the Hawthorne Bridge) to indicate an area that cars and bikes need to be extra alert to each other. Blue Bike Lanes were an experimental attempt for roadway markings to warn cars and bicyclists of dangerous bike lane and car crossings.

Motorists may be unaware that it is illegal to drive and park in bicycle lanes. Even more critical, they are unaware of the need to yield to cyclists when crossing a bicycle lane to turn right or get into a right-turn only lane. The result of this is a relatively high level of conflicts in these areas--both in terms of crashes and "near misses."

1999 NACTO PDF On Portland's Blue Bike Lanes.

Portland transitioned to Green instead of Blue in 2009.

And, they set out to study if there was any safety improvement in these blue bike lanes.

  1. Did motorists appear to yield more frequently to cyclists after the pavement was colored blue?
  2. Did motorists appear to look for cyclists before crossing the bike lane more frequently than before?
  3. Did motorists modify their behavior in any significant ways?
  4. Did cyclists tend to look more frequently for motorists before proceeding through the painted area?
  5. Did cyclists modify their behavior in any significant ways? 6 Did the number of conflicts, near conflicts, and reported crashes change?

You can see the list of blue bike lanes that were installed and where they were installed for this study in 1999. The signs that went with these locations are also interesting, and these are the 4 conflict types that the researchers were isolating in this study.

Group 1, Right-turn exit ramps. Motorists yield to cyclists as they turn right to exit roadway.

Sign which indicates car turning right through a bicycle lane and instructing the bicycle priority right of way for the car to yield to the bicycle in the bike lane.

Group 1, Right-turn exit ramps. This was a unique sign used for Broadway and Williams.

Sign which indicates car turning right through a bicycle lane and instructing the bicycle priority right of way for the car to yield to the bicycle this was a unique sign for Broadway and Williams.

This is also explained in the site descriptions. For Broadway / Williams, this was a bad crossing for bicycle riders in the designated bike lane because they had to travel through traffic turning onto the Interstate 5 onramp, a site with a history of too many bicycle vs. car conflicts.

A different kind of diagram showing the car lanes and the ram where cars were right turning through the bike lane which was going in straight, this diagram is specifically of Williams and Broadway.

Also, notorious crossings where bicyclists have to navigate similarly on a bike path which goes straight through the right turn of cars turning through the bike lane in Portland:

  1. Hawthorne Bridge / McLoughlin off-ramp
  2. Beaverton-Hillsdale Highway / Bertha
  3. SW Multnomah Blvd, Eastbound at Garden Home Road

Group 2, Right-turn lanes. Motorist entering right-turn lane yields to cyclist.

Sign showing the car turning right and entering the right turn lane to yield to the bicycles in the bike lane.

Four intersections within Portland with high numbers of bicycle vs. car crashes were included in this group:

  1. SE Madison / Grand
  2. SE 7th / Morrison
  3. East end of Broadway Bridge / Larrabee
  4. SW Terwilliger / I-5 entrance

A different diagram depicting the car lanes and bicycle path of the roadway where the right turn sign is placed to resemble the roads and bike lane at SE 7th / Morrison in Portland, Oregon.

Group 3, Entrance ramps. Motorist yield to cyclists as they turn right to enter roadway.

This was a road sign for Entrance ramps instructing motorists to yield to cyclists as they turn their car right to enter roadway such as an offramp from an interstate highway.

There were 2 places with this type of bicycle lane crossing a high use car offramp from Interstate 5:

  1. NE Weidler, Eastbound at Victoria (I-5 northbound off-ramp)
  2. East end of the Broadway Bridge, westbound at Interstate

The rest is history. They concluded more study needed to be done on the signs influence because they clearly assigned priority right-of-way which may have been more important than the color of the paint on the roadway. But, the majority of drivers also gave the painted color on the road a positive review for getting their attention. Results were positive, and eventually they were expanded to the bike boxes and the color changed, as well as the sites getting this treatment being exanded to more roads throughout Portland Metro.

Safer streets. Safety in numbers.

Portland bicycle commuters know by experience the difference in the numbers of other cyclists on the road can make. Bicycle safety advocates believe that the more the numbers of bicycles grow on our streets, the better car drivers and pedestrians and bikes will all get along. And, there are a lot of statistics, especially in recent years, from all around the country in microcosm studies, or macro across the USA, that this is true. However, we are also seeing new concerning problems in bicycle accident safety statistics.

This idea of the numbers, critical mass idea, if from the P. L. Jacobsen Safety in numbers: more walkers and bicyclists, safer walking and bicycling

The common wisdom holds that the number of collisions varies directly with the amount of walking and bicycling. However, three published analyses of collision rates at specific intersections found a non-linear relationship, such that collisions rates declined with increases in the numbers of people walking or bicycling.

The state of cycling in the USA at the end of 2012 no doubt, bicycle riders were enjoying improving conditions and bicycle ridership and commuting is definitely growing. But hard safety questions are materializing in how to move forward.

For instance in Colorado, the new Colorado 2009 laws (Senate Bill 09-148) to clarify the rights and laws of bicycle and car co-existence on Colorado streets, roads and highways:

[...] provides provisions for cyclists to ride two abreast, for passing motorists to cross the center line, and for cyclists to ride only as far to the right as is reasonable, so as to avoid hazards. Motorists are required to leave a three-foot buffer when passing a cyclist, and threatening or careless driver behavior, including throwing projectiles at a cyclist, is designated as a misdemeanor. Cyclists are also permitted to ride on the left-hand side of a one-way street, to mitigate the hazard parked buses and taxis present on the right.

In the article, Brian mentions one of his cases where the car insurance actually sued his bicycle client for damage to the car as a result of the bicycle v. car collision! "After a man I represented was hit by a car, the insurer for the car made a claim against my client for $3,000 in damage to the car. Although the new law [Senate Bill 09-148] was not yet in effect, I argued that drivers should give three feet to cyclists to be safe. The case eventually settled in a favorable manner for my client."

Leaving space while passing a bicycle rider is just common sense to many of us, but in 2012, Pennsylvania also put this law on the books making it legally permissible for the auto driver to cross the line on the road in order to leave this safe passing room while over taking a bicycle.

Pennsylvania's new bicycle law is just common sense

April 9,2012 - [...] Unfortunately, not all drivers are that polite, which is the reason that Pennsylvania lawmakers thought they had to put into writing a requirement that motorists leave a 4-foot "cushion of safety" when passing bicyclists. When oncoming traffic permits, motorists are permitted to cross the center line to provide space when passing bicyclists.

A study in Maryland where they also have a new bicycle passing law (as of October 2010) requiring three feet found that cars routinely violate this law.

Love, D.C., et al., Is the three-foot bicycle passing law working in Baltimore, Maryland? Accid. Anal. Prev. (2012)

Cyclists in Baltimore, MD were routinely passed at a distance of three feet or less while cycling during morning and evening commutes, which indicates that the three-foot law is not being followed and cyclist safety may be compromised. Risk factors for dangerous passes by motorists were decreasing lane width and the absence of bicycle lanes. [...] The construction of bicycle lanes is a transportation infrastructure solution that would engineer out deficiencies in motorist behavior toward cyclists.

Many cities across the nation see rising numbers of serious bicycle accident and fatalities. Yes, bicycle ridership is up, but the correlation and meanings of the numbers are not really clear to the safety experts and city designers what exactly is happening. This is also occurring in some of the best biking cities in the USA, not the worst.


This year, through July 8th, there have already been 228 accidents, which nearly matches the total number of collisions throughout the entire year in 2011, and already has surpassed 2010 as a whole. The statistics aren't broken down by type, so they could refer to bike-pedestrian, bike-bike or bike-auto accidents. In 2011, DPD had 239 on record, and in 2010, the total came to 202. Assuming that more cycling accidents will continue to take place over the summer and into the fall -- especially since there are more cyclists on the road in Denver -- we can expect the city to not only break its record on bike accidents by year's end, but shatter it.

In Portland, we got similarly troubling news in October of 2012 about the green bike boxes which, granted were an experimental road way design, but, well, we hoped. We do need better and more thorough safety studies of what is actually happening with these green bike boxes, road designers, city engineers to all study the facts, which will be coming.

Right-hook crashes increasing -- not decreasing -- at some Portland green bike boxes [October 16, 2012]

"The crash data trend suggests that right-hook crashes are increasing at some of the treatment locations installed in the first phase," said city traffic engineer Rob Burchfield in a signed "progress report" to federal highway officials that was released late Monday (PDF).

In August 2012, another intersection in Portland, NE Wheeler, was closed because of the right hook - right turn problems between bikes and vehicles

Portland closing N. Wheeler to right turns to prevent bike, car collisions

August 21, 2012 - [...] North Wheeler Avenue at Broadway will be closed starting Wednesday morning to right-turn traffic. He said the closure is in response to 20 reported crashes at the intersection between 2000 and 2010, including 17 right-hook collisions involving a person on a bike and a car.

It takes time to compile statistics. So, we don't yet know what 2012 statistics will really look like. To be sure, there are good and bad spots, even some very good and hopeful stats.

Portland has a lot to be proud of with our bicycle history, like Portland's Green Bike Boxes.

Green bike boxes attempt to improve bicycle safety at dangerous intersections, especially where cars are turning right through a bike lane while the bikes are going straight. Bicyclists might know this type of danger as being "right- hooked."

Green bike boxes attempt to improve bicycle safety at dangerous intersections, especially where cars are turning right through a bike lane and the bikes are going straight. Cyclists might know this type of danger has "right- hooked."

In 2007 Portland had 6 car bicycle collisions resulting in fatalities. After two cyclists died in October 2007 both as a result of getting right-hooked (when a car crosses the bike lane to turn right and strikes a cyclist), the city of Portland responded with the innovative "Green Bike Boxes." The box road marking instructs bikes to stop in front of cars which increases their visibility. The painted green bike lane in the intersection where cars turn right reminds bikes and drivers to look for each other.

According to Adams, a comprehensive evaluation of the bike boxes will be conducted by Portland State University's Initiative for Bicycle and Pedestrian Innovation. The outcome will provide recommendations for their future use, design and evaluation. "We feel that by experimenting with the Bicycle Boxes and Colored Bicycle Lanes," said Adams, "we have the potential to further the development of new standards for treatments that ensure bicyclists' safety, in Portland, and potentially other cities."

In California, at the end of 2011, many Southern California cities were dealing with much higher bicycle accident numbers than they had seen in previous years.

Rise in number of bicycle accidents has Burbank concerned [November 13, 2011]

Through October of this year, police have responded to 32 injury bike collisions — more than in all of 2007, when there were 24, and nearly as many as the 33 reported in 2008, Lt. J.J. Puglisi said.

Burbank police officers also noted the increase not just in the number of these accidents but also the severity. Burbank also has some great bicycle boulevards and an ambitious bicycle master plan they released in 2009.

New York City has a promising bike sharing program, and increasing miles of bike paths and designated bike lanes. In NYC we see the challenges facing bicycle riders, pedestrians, and car drivers, in a blown up sort of way - way bigger numbers of all types of transit users. In New York City there have been growing tensions between bicycle v. pedestrian accident and fatalities. In New York, a huge number of people are pedestrians, and the bicycle riders have been growing in numbers the last several years especially.

Study Finds Higher Number of Pedestrians Hurt by Bikes [September 19, 2011]

More than 500 New York City residents are injured badly enough to be treated in hospitals after being struck by bicyclists each year, according to an analysis by Hunter College professors. The number, while small compared with the number of pedestrians injured by cars, is a much higher figure than an earlier study by the same researchers found.

The professors surveyed hospital data gathered by the State Department of Health between 2007 and 2010 and found that roughly 1,000 pedestrians in New York State were seen at hospitals each year after being hit by cyclists, and that 55 percent of the accident victims were in New York City. A 2009 analysis of different data by the professors, Peter Tuckel and William Milczarski, found that only a few more than 1,000 pedestrians were treated annually in hospitals in the whole country for injuries in collisions with cyclists.

The tension between pedestrians and bicycle riders in New York City continued into 2012. Interesting data sets were compiled. Of course, car v. pedestrian injury and fatalities are much higher numbers than bicycle v. pedestrian. In addition, bicyclists themselves are injured or killed in much higher numbers by accidents involving cars, or often, trucks. The data has been hopeful. Bike paths, bike lanes do help. The numbers of bicycle riders on the streets in New York City are growing at fantastic rates, and yet, these incidents are actually reducing in frequency.

At Least 24 Cyclists Were Killed In NYC Last Year, But Gawker Wants More [8/27/2012]

Leitch complains that "Bike riders have taken over this city," and says that his wrath against cyclists arises from his identity "as a pedestrian, as someone giddy to live in one of the few cities in America where you can just walk everywhere." But as a pedestrian, Leitch should be encouraging cycling: as cycling rates nearly doubled from 2007 to 2010, the number of bike-on-pedestrian crashes dropped 9%. The number of cyclist-caused crashes fell as well.

Cars are 365 times more dangerous to pedestrians than cyclists, according to City data. 60% of fatal pedestrian and bicyclist crashes are caused by illegal driver behavior. 27% of crashes that kill or seriously injure pedestrians involve a driver failing to yield. More pedestrians are struck by vehicles crossing the street with the signal (27%) than without (20%).

The rate of bicycle riding growth in New York City has gotten contentious. Bicycle riders are getting tickets and very high rates, while, the cyclist community contends that drivers, and crash-causing-injury-making drivers are not getting ticketed, it is bringing the actual data to light, especially over the last year.

NYPD: 1,304 Pedestrians and Cyclists Injured, 13 Killed in Traffic in October [November 29, 2012]

Of seven fatal crashes reported by Streetsblog and other outlets, no motorists were known to have been charged for causing a death. Historically, nearly half of motorists who kill a New York City pedestrian or cyclist do not receive so much as a citation for careless driving. [...] Across the city, 976 pedestrians and 328 cyclists were reported hurt in collisions with motor vehicles. Per NYPD policy, few if any of these crashes were investigated by trained officers.

There's a lot of bright spots in the contentiousness of New York City's bike growth.

NYC DOT Announces Commuter Biking has Doubled in the Last Four Years and Conversion of Parking Meters into Bike Racks to Meet Growing Demand for Bike Parking Commuter bike riding nearly quadrupled in the last decade, growing 8% in the last year

New York City Department of Transportation (DOT) Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan today announced a continued steady increase in commuter bike riding in New York City, with an 8% increase in bike riders counted at commuter locations this year compared to last year's record number. According to counts of bike riders made at six commuter locations, bike riding has increased 102% compared to 2007 and by 289% compared to 2001. In that time, safety has increased for all street users, with fatalities at their lowest levels in the century that records have been kept, while serious bike injuries and fatalities have remain unchanged despite the near-quadrupling in bike riding.

Recreational biking, dedicated bike trails, have also been getting big news for having huge positive economic impacts around the country. For instance, in Salt Lake City:

Second Annual Bike Count Shows Big Jump in Cyclists Coordinator says bicycling in Salt Lake City is easy, money-saving and "cooler" than ever

Salt Lake City's investments in bicycle infrastructure, including approximately 50 lane miles of new on-road bikeways and locally designed "green shared lanes" in the downtown area, are paying off with a one-year 27 percent increase in the number of bicyclists, according to the City's second annual bicycle count.