Bicycle Safety and the Law: Quiz #4 -Portland Bicycling Club

Bicycle Safety and the Law: Quiz #4

Do YOU know the answers?


  1. What should I do, if anything, about damaged or unsafe drains?
  2. What is a bicycle box? What is it for?  


  1. ORS 810.150 covers the answer about the law regarding drains (or catch basins). Drains in the public right of way must be safe for bicycles to travel over. If you encounter an unsafe drain, contact the appropriate agency – usually the Department of Public Works (DPW) for that location. Send a photo if you can get an email address. From my own experience, the Portland Bureau of Transportation and the Washington County DPW have been very responsive. For any road hazard (unusual amounts of glass, leaves, debris, etc.), contact the DPW. ORS 810.150 Drain construction: compliance with bicycle safety requirements; guidelines: “Street drains, sewer drains, storm drains and other similar openings in a roadbed over which traffic must pass that are in any portion of a public way, highway, road, street, footpath or bicycle trail that is available for use by bicycle traffic shall be designed and installed, including any modification of existing drains, with grates or covers so that bicycle traffic may pass over the drains safely and without obstruction or interference.”
  2. The answer comes from ODOT*. “Bicycle boxes are painted traffic control devices used at some intersections with signals to provide an area for people riding bicycles to wait for a green light in front of any cars that are also waiting. Bicycle boxes help make people on bicycles more visible at intersections and also can help reduce traffic delays.” Not all bike boxes are green, though in the Portland area they are. If you approach a red (or yellow!) light, move into the bike box from the bike lane and stop in the box in front of traffic so they can see you, and you will have a head start going through the intersection. Cars are not permitted to stop in a bike box. Note that there is such a thing as a Left Turn bike box. At busy intersections (e.g., NE Evergreen Road and NE Brookwood Parkway in Hillsboro) you can turn left by moving into the left turn lane on the street. Or you can make the two-step left turn by proceeding THROUGH the intersection and waiting in the left turn bike box on the far side.

Dave McQuery, Membership Secretary

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* ODOT, Oregon Bicycling Manual, Online Edition (see Section 5 – Rules of the Road: Using Bicycle Boxes)