Bicycle riders under the age of 16 are required to wear helmets under Oregon law.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration:
More than 51,000 bicyclists have been fatally injured in traffic accidents in the United States since 1932, the first year records were kept
In 2006, 773 bicyclists were killed and 44,000 were injured in traffic crashes in the United States
An estimated 494,712 bicycle injuries were seen by US hospitals in 2005 and 53% of these involved patients under 15
Bicycling is becoming more and more popular in the United States, especially in the Portland area. The popularity of bicycling has bloomed in the United States over the last decade with the gas savings, carbon footprint reduction, no parking fees and health benefits. Portland is the only major city to have earned platinum status by the League of American Bicyclists for being bicycle friendly. Portland has the highest percentage of bicycle commuters of any large city, 6% to 8%. The city tries to make the roads as safe as possible for bicycle riders including bike lanes, neighborhood greenways / bike boulevards, paths, and cycle tracks. Even with all of Portland’s efforts to keep cyclists safe, accidents are inevitable with so many bicyclists and so many motor vehicle drivers sharing the roadways daily.
Unfortunately, many drivers fail to respect the rights of bicyclists as sharing the roads. Also, many younger riders are uneducated or undereducated on how to properly and legally ride a bicycle including stopping distances and proper hand signaling. Without licensing and insurance requirements, especially younger riders often are unaware of how to properly ride a bicycle. The lack of insurance requirements also can end up leaving bicycle accident victims without the financial ability to take care of the damages from an accident.
Bicyclists are required to follow the same traffic rules as passenger vehicles under Oregon law. They also are supposed to be afforded the same protections as motor vehicle drivers under those same laws. Following the traffic laws are important for both bicyclists and the drivers around them. Following the traffic laws helps those also on the road to be able to predict where a driver or rider is going and notice when he or she plans to turn or stop. Riding in an available bike lane or at the far right of the road is not just a good idea for safety, but also required of bicyclists under Oregon law. Bicyclists on trails and paths must ride safely and be careful of pedestrians. Motor vehicle drivers must be extra vigilant in Portland in looking out for the large number of bicyclists.
A large number of bicycle fatalities occur because of head injuries. Bicycles are much lighter than motor vehicles and do not have the same safety equipment and metal frame as a passenger car. Because of this, injuries sustained by bicyclists are often far more serious than those sustained by passenger vehicle occupants. Although helmets do reduce the incidence of serious head injury in bicycle accidents, there is still the possibility of severe injuries including traumatic brain injury, spinal injuries, neck and back injuries, broken bones, severe skin abrasion, post-traumatic stress disorder and serious pain and suffering.
Portland Bureau of Transportation:
Portland Citywide & Neighborhood Bike Maps:
State of Oregon: Bicycle & Pedestrian Program:
Bicycle Transportation Alliance:
City of Gresham – Biking and Walking: