Safety: To Pass or Not to Pass -Portland Bicycling Club

Safety: To Pass or Not to Pass

To pass or not to pass, that is the question! It came to my attention in a recent conversation with my stepson, Anthony, that there is a problem in the outskirts of Portland. He works for a major chemical company and is in conversation with farmers and nursery people daily, as well as running a small nursery himself.

The farmers are becoming nervous around groups of cyclists. They see bicycle riders not yielding at stop signs when there is cross traffic, and committing other road violations. They also see them darting around farm machinery on the roadways. This is especially dangerous during planting and harvest seasons. Even a massive tractor can go no faster than 20-25 MPH, and usually they are going slower as they are hauling a disc, subsoiler or sprayers. Their eyes are going everywhere when they are on the road. Farm equipment can also be more than eight feet wide. They may be hauling a load of 20 tons on a one-lane road. They recommend that you NOT pass them. Usually, they are only going a short distance to the next field. Just be patient. They care about YOUR SAFETY, as well. It might look like they can see you since they are up high with lots of windows, but they can’t usually. And this makes them uneasy. 

Move as far over to the right as possible, and don’t ride two-abreast when they’re going faster than you. They suggest that you hug the fog line and let them pass YOU. They can’t imagine that you would want to listen to the roaring of a tractor behind you as you ride.

Running stop signs is not necessarily a road violation, but are you yielding when you don’t have the right of way? In Oregon, it’s true that cyclists are no longer required to come to a complete stop at every stop sign or blinking red light. Instead, you can treat stop signs as yield signs under certain conditions:

  1. When to Yield: If cyclists have the clear RIGHT OF WAY, they can slow down at a stop sign or blinking red light and then proceed through the intersection without coming to a full stop.
  2. Yielding to Others: Cyclists WITHOUT the right of way MUST STILL YIELD TO TRAFFIC. If there is cross-traffic with the right of way, cyclists should stop and wait until it’s safe to proceed.
  3. Collision Responsibility: If a cyclist rolls a stop sign and is involved in a collision, they can still be found at fault.

Remember, this law aims to recognize the differences between bicycles and motor vehicles, allowing cyclists to maintain momentum while ensuring safety at intersections. Oregon cyclists can enjoy a more flexible approach to stop signs, but please show respect for farmers/nursery workers, and share the road.

Jan Oestereich, Recording Secretary

Return to Table of Contents