What is a Pedestrian and the Vulnerable User Law?

The state of Oregon defines a pedestrian as “any person afoot or in a wheelchair,” which includes anyone from walkers, runners, and highway workers, to skateboarders and bicyclists. Oregon law permits pedestrians to cross the road at any point; however, local rules have the ability to make pedestrians rights somewhat unclear, as is the case in Portland, where pedestrians must use a crosswalk if one is available within 150 feet. If pedestrians are unaware of their rights and the rules which apply to them, a violation may entail potential legal traps or harsh penalties.

No state has ever used the Vulnerable Roadway User concept as a legal term, but members of the Bicycle Transportation Alliance wanted it instated for the protection of vulnerable user groups, such as the ones reducing energy consumption and pollution, while also improving their own health and fitness. Used in Europe by planners and safety organizations, the Vulnerable Roadway User Law applies to and protects people walking, running, using bicycles, farm tractors, skateboards, roller skates, roller blades, or scooters on the roadway. Before it was passed, Oregon state law provided only minor consequences for careless driving that seriously injures pedestrians or other non-motorized roadway users. Now, with the Vulnerable Roadway User Law in full effect, reckless drivers suffer enhanced penalties. Depending on the situation, the law mandates either community service and driver-improvement education, or a substantial fine and a mandatory one-year license suspension.


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