MONMOUTH/INDEPENDENCE — Drivers, bicyclists and pedestrians share some responsibility when it comes to road safety, especially in areas of high traffic, such as near schools.
“Usually around the beginning of the school year, we receive several complaints regarding close calls where a vehicle has almost struck someone on a bike or skateboard,” said Monmouth Police Department Sgt. Matt Olafson. “Those concerns are with bicyclists and skateboarders who are not following the rules of the road.”
Independence Police Department officer Lance Inman spends a lot of time monitoring traffic near schools.
“I’ll tell ya, 16th at Monmouth Street during school passing times is heavily, heavily congested,” Inman said. “With everything — cars are backed up at Gun Club Road, and there’s a lot of students that are crossing at the crosswalks.”
He said he’s seen middle and high school students do a great job of obeying pedestrian rules.
“But I’ve seen a lot of the vehicles not waiting for the students to get out of the crosswalk,” Inman said.At a crosswalk controlled by a signal, the driver has to wait until the pedestrian is out of the driver’s lane plus 6 feet, he said.
“What I see the most is drivers running the red light there when there’s dozens of students waiting to cross,” Inman said. “I’ve witnessed some egregious violations of that, and that’s pretty hazardous when you’ve got a dozen kids on either side of the road trying to cross, trying to get to school or trying to leave school with all the traffic congestion.”
Fines are enhanced in school zones.
Typically, a ticket for running a red light would be $265. In a school zone, that fine is $525.
“Another thing I see a lot of is cyclists not riding as close as practical to the right side of the roadway,” Inman said. “Bicycle advocate groups tend to challenge the interpretation of how close you have to ride to the right in order to avoid obstacles, especially if there’s not a shoulder.”
Bicyclists must follow the same rules of the road as vehicles, Olafson said.
“You must come to a complete stop at all stop signs,” he said. “The law states that a person is in violation of the law if they fail to obey the directions of the traffic control device. A bicycle under Oregon law is considered a vehicle.”
Senate Bill 998, which passed at the last legislative session, takes effect Jan. 1, 2020. It “allows a bicyclist approaching an intersection regulated by a stop sign or flashing red light at a safe speed to proceed through that intersection or make a turn without stopping.”
People who ride in groups sometimes want to ride abreast so they can talk, Inman said.
“Sometimes they’re afraid of going off the roadway, and we understand that,” he said. “We don’t expect someone to be riding within a foot of a drop off.”
When cyclists aren’t making an attempt to stay to the side of the road is usually when an officer will stop and “have a chat with them,” Inman said.
Monmouth and Independence have ordinances regarding bicycles, skateboards and roller skates on certain sidewalks.
“If you are operating any of these, you are not allowed to ride on the sidewalk on Main Street between Highway 99W and Monmouth Avenue,” Olafson said. “This is very dangerous, as there are many businesses along Main Street and heavy pedestrian traffic.”
Bicyclists can ride on sidewalks in Independence, Inman said, except for in the downtown area.
Pedestrians have the right of way on sidewalks, even those that bicyclists are permitted to use.
For more tips on road safety, visit one.nhtsa.gov.