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The new Oregon Senate Bill 895 comes in a succession of Oregon Revised Statute 811.420, which elaborates on the penalties and exceptions in case a person commits the offense of passing in a no-passing zone. SB 895 hopes to clarify the provisions of statute 811.420 and is an important move as far as cycling and transportation-related bills are concerned.

Persons Advocating the Bill
Floyd Prozanski is the chief sponsor of this bill. The Eugene-area Democrat previously passed the Bicycle Safe Passing law in 2007. The fact that he has sponsored SB 895 now makes it clear how Senator Prozanski is doing everything possible to make roads a safe experience for bicycle riders too. The current bill, too, has been presented by Floyd Prozanski on behalf of Richard Hughes and Doug Parrow. Doug

Parrow, too, has been the chair of the legislative committee and board member of The Street Trust, a non-profit organization actively working towards making roads safe for walking, biking, and riding. All three backers have been actively involved in making roads safe for everyone using them, not just vehicles.

Main Purpose of the Senate Bill 895
SB 895 intends to amend the definition of ‘obstruction’, and make it more inclusive for different types of vehicles moving at different speeds on the roads. It requires drivers to slow down their vehicles whenever they pass an obstruction to their right. This is a welcome move from a road safety perspective for bicycles or any other person driving their vehicles at a much slower speed than other vehicles on other roads.

The primary issue that this bill attempts to highlight is that most drivers and police officers are unaware that crossing over the centerline of the road to pass a bicycle rider is already legal per the provisions in the bicycle safe passing law, the ORS 811.065. The law states that the driver of a motor vehicle may drive to the left of the center of a roadway to pass a person operating a bicycle proceeding in the same direction.

However, lack of clarity regarding this law is resulting in dangerous passes, putting the lives of bicycle riders at risk. Motorists are under the assumption that crossing the centerline is illegal, which is why many of them end up passing bicyclists too closely. This not just endangers the lives of bicycle riders but also results in their harassment by drivers driving bigger vehicles. Additionally, drivers are left confused about whether or not to pass bicycle riders on roads without passing zones. Drivers on low-traffic or rural roads face this dilemma due to the lack of a passing zone and often end up trailing behind a slow-moving vehicle or bicycle under the assumption that passing them would be illegal.

Senate Bill 895 aims to make the no-passing zone law clearer for bicycle riders and intends to bring back common sense into bicycle-related laws. It also states that drivers passing by slower-moving vehicles should do so at a speed of 5 miles less than the permissible speed limit.

Summing Up
The new bill was passed out of the committee on 20th March and is now on the Senate floor. The whole purpose of the newest bill introduced at the legislature in this session is to clear any ambiguity around the provisions of previous laws. If you require any clarifications or understanding about the new laws and how it impacts you, reach out to a Portland personal injury attorney for assistance.

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