Bicycle Safety Tips for the Portland Oregon Cyclist:

  • Obey all signs & traffic lights. Bicycles must be driven like other vehicles if they are to be taken seriously by motorists. Never ride against traffic.
  • Use hand signals. Hand signals tell motorists what you intend to do. For turn signals, point in the direction of your turn.
  • Ride consistently. Ride as close as practical to the right. Exceptions: when traveling at the normal speed of traffic, avoiding hazardous conditions, preparing to make a left turn, or using a one-way street.
  • Choose the best way to turn left. There are two ways to turn left: 1) Like a car: look back, signal, move into the left lane, and turn left. 2) Like a pedestrian: ride straight to the far-side crosswalk, then walk your bike across.
  • Use caution when passing. Motorists may not see you on their right. Where there’s no bike lane, pass cars on the left. Be careful when overtaking cars while in a bike lane. Watch for parked cars pulling out and doors opening. Make eye contact with drivers.
  • Avoid road hazards. Watch for sewer grates, slippery manhole covers, oily pavement, gravel, and ice. Cross railroad tracks at right angles. For better control as you move across bumps and other hazards, stand up on your pedals.
  • Ride a well-equipped bike. Outfit your bike with a good bike lock, tool kit, fenders, and bike bags. You are required by law to use a strong white headlight (visible from 500 feet) and rear red reflector or light (visible from 600 feet) at night and when visibility is poor.
  • Dress appropriately. Wear a Snell or ANSI approved hard-shell helmet whenever you ride (required by law for cyclists under 16 years of age). Wear light-colored clothes at night, preferable with reflective strips.
  • Get a green light. If you come to a red light and see a symbol of a bicycle rider with a line above and below it on the street, position your bike directly over it. Wait and soon the light will turn green. If a car is already there, it will activate the light for you.
  • Go slow on sidewalks. Pedestrians have the right of way on walkways. You must give an audible warning when you pass. Cross driveways and intersections at a walker’s pace and look carefully for traffic.
  • Know the city ordinances for your community. Many cities have ordinances regulating the use of bicycles. For instance, bicycles are not allowed on the sidewalks in downtown Portland. Know your city ordinances!  They can often be found online, or at your local library.

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