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Road Etiquette and Symbols and Markings for Biking and Driving

Every neighborhood benefits from safe and inviting streets, and Portland is no exception. Whether on foot, riding a bike or in a car, sharing the road is what we’re all about.
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Note: "ORS" numbers refer to state law - the specific Oregon Revised Statutes concerning people traveling and using the right-of-way.

When You Bike

Pedestrians have the right of way. In the crosswalk or at an unmarked intersection, cyclists are required to stop for pedestrians. (ORS 811.028)

Be predictable. Ride with the flow of other vehicle traffic. (ORS 814.400) Maintain a straight line of travel whenever possible.

Mind the signs and signals. Stop at stop signs and obey red lights, just like all other vehicles. (ORS 811.260)

Communication is key. Hand signals help other road users know where you’re headed. Signal when you are able, but don’t sacrifice safety when two hands are needed to operate the brakes. (ORS 814.440)

Signal left with left hand, right with right.

Ride aware. Approach all intersections with caution. Cyclists riding in a bike lane have the right of way, but turning vehicles may not see you. 

Be seen, be safe. A front white light and a rear red reflector are required by law when riding at night or in low visibility conditions. (ORS 815.280) In addition, we recommend a rear red light and bright or reflective clothing and accessories.

use a white front light and red rear light

Keep an ear clear. Increase safety and communication by leaving one ear bud, or both, out when you ride.

When You Drive

Pedestrians have the right of way. In the crosswalk or at an unmarked intersection, drivers are required to stop for pedestrians. (ORS 811.028)

Check before you turn. Get in the habit of checking your side-view mirror before every right turn in case a cyclist is overtaking on your right.

watch for bikes when turning right. A diagram showing a bicyclist in the driver's blind spot, to the right of a car making a turn,

Communication is key. Signaling your turns well in advance helps cyclists and other vehicles know where you’re headed. (ORS 811.400) Law requires a signal at least 100 feet before you turn. (ORS 811.335)

Mind the door zone. Take care when opening a door into the bike lane or street so as not to hit a passing bicycle rider with your door. (ORS 811.490)

look for bikes before opening the car door. A graphic showing a bicyclist in the bike lane next to a parked car opening their door

Respect the bike lane. Motorists are required to yield to cyclists in bike lanes, so let them pass before turning or parking. (ORS 811.050) Keep clear of a solid bike lane until you reach your intersection or where the lane becomes dashed. (ORS 811.440) 

Give a little room. When passing a cyclist, five feet of distance is preferred while three feet is the minimum. (ORS 811.065)

Understanding Portland's Bicycle Symbols and Markings

Here are a few of the most common symbols to help drivers and cyclists know where to look for one another when sharing the roads.

Sharrows include a bike and two chevrons

When you bike: Sharrows designate a safe and visible place to ride. Follow the sharrows to connect low-traffic Neighborhood Greenway streets throughout the city.

When you drive: Keep an eye out for all types of travel — bikes, pedestrians, skateboards, etc. Drive slowly and give ample room when passing.

A bike signal detector in the road, a bike outline with a vertical line above and below

When you bike: Position your wheels over the lines of the marking and stay there to activate the sensor and “get the green.” If a car is already waiting, it will activate the signal for you.

When you drive: Be aware of cyclists taking the lane to trigger traffic signals using their designated signal detector.

A green bike box with two cyclists in it, in front of a car stopped at the stop bar

When you bike: Roll up to the front of the line when there’s a yellow or red light. If the light is green, watch for vehicles turning right before continuing through the intersection.

When you drive: Stop behind the white line at a yellow or red light. When the light turns green, yield to cyclists in the bike lane before turning. Only cyclists can take a right on red when there’s a bike box.

Bike lane with dashed outline & dashed green paint

When you bike: Watch for turning vehicles or buses making stops. The dashed lines mean a mix of traffic can use the space.

When you drive: Watch for and yield to cyclists going straight through when crossing dashed bike lanes.

Green boxes that provide refuge for turning cyclists.

When you bike: Use these boxes to make left turns across intersections rather than merging into traffic. Roll your bike into the box and position it to cross the intersection. Wait for the signal and move through the intersection ahead of auto traffic.

When you drive: Like a bike box, these smaller boxes guide bikes to use a predictable route through busy intersections. Be alert to bicyclists using them.