Portland has a reputation as being very bike friendly. Granted, the city has lost the first-place ranking it once enjoyed from Bicycling magazine, but that has had little effect on the popularity of pedal power. And now the Oregon legislature is considering a bill that would make it legal for bicyclists and motorcycle riders to run red lights -- in certain circumstances.
What is the likely implication of this on rates of injury-causing accidents involving bicycles and other motor vehicles? No one seems to have an answer, but many experts say it's an issue that deserves serious consideration. Especially in light of city statistics indicating accidents are on the rise.
Lawmakers may feel that they have already done this within the language of the bill. The measure would make it possible for bikers to run a red if the light doesn't turn green after one cycle. Advocates say this can happen when sensors fail to pick up that bikes are at an intersection. Another provision says that if bikers take on the risks, they also take on the liability for any collision with other users on the road who have the green light in their favor.
The Senate has approved the bill and it's now before the House.
Portland city officials haven't taken a formal position either way on the proposal, but the city's person in charge of signal controls says he's worried that people might not understand what a signal cycle is. He says it might be better if the bill said bikers should wait two or three minutes at a red light. He says no light in the city is ever set to last longer than three minutes.
What is certain is that bicycling and motorcycling are not going to become less popular regardless of whether this measure becomes law or not. Accidents will occur, and when they do because of another driver's negligence, victims would do well to contact attorneys who are skilled in personal injury law for the sake of protecting their rights to seek compensation.