Bicycle Safety

Congratulations on choosing a bicycle for transportation! Bicycling is inexpensive, non-polluting, convenient, healthy and fun. It is one of the most efficient forms of transportation known and is often the fastest way to get around the Oregon State University campus and City of Corvallis.

Safe Riding

Most bicycle accidents share a common denominator. They are avoidable! Proper maintenance, courtesy, common sense, defensive riding and compliance with regulations can prevent needless injury and property damage. The traffic regulations contained herein have been adopted to promote safe bicycle and pedestrian traffic on campus.

Anyone using a bicycle on campus is expected to know the provisions of these regulations and is subject to penalties for violating them. All current provisions of these regulations are maintained for public inspection at all times at the Department of Public Safety in Cascade Hall.

Exercise Good Judgment

Your bicycle gives you a high degree of mobility and speed, but bicycles are often difficult for other drivers to see. Road conditions and congestion due to vehicles, parked cars, signs, pedestrians, roller-skaters, skateboarders and other bicycles intensify these problems. Bicyclists must do everything they can to make themselves as visible as possible, follow safe and predictable driving habits and to mix safely with other users of the traffic system.

  • Wear light colored clothing during the evening and brightly-colored clothing during the day.
  • At night, lights and reflectors are essential for visibility and both are required by law.
  • Avoid unlit streets and paths at night.
  • Remember that although other drivers or pedestrians may be looking directly at you, they still may not see you.
Lane Position
  • Although you should normally keep to the right of the lane, one of the biggest hazards to bicyclists riding in city traffic is parked cars opening doors in to a cyclist's path. Always assume the door of any parked car may open without warning and ride far enough out into the lane so an opening door will not hit you.
  • If the lane is too narrow for cars to safely pass when you are riding out far enough to avoid hazards such as car doors, ride in the center of the lane to avoid having cars attempt to pass you unsafely.
  • Ride in a straight line; drifting right in a gap between parked cars and then back out makes you less visible and less predictable.
  • Use the proper lane for turns and avoid using a "right turn only" lane if you are proceeding straight ahead. Merge carefully into the proper lane after signaling your intention and checking for traffic.
  • Always ride with, not against, traffic.
  • Right-of-Way rules are law, common courtesy and apply to bicyclists equally.
  • Yield to pedestrians, roller-skaters, skateboarders and people walking their bicycles.
  • Always look both ways and signal before turning.
  • Single-file riding is the safest way to drive on all traffic systems.
  • Leave plenty of room for people to pass and for safe stopping and turning.
  • Learn to brake properly so you are ready to stop quickly in an emergency. The front brake can provide much greater stopping power than the rear brake, but jamming on the front brake too hard in an emergency can lift your rear wheel and dump you over the handlebars. Practice applying the front brake hard, but not so hard that your rear wheel starts to lift or skid. Braking on slippery surfaces, curves and steep downgrades requires additional skill and care.
Good Citizenship:
  • Obey all traffic signs. Bicyclists must obey the same signals, signs, and pavement markings all drivers of motor vehicles are required to obey.
  • Obey the Basic Speed Limit Law. Oregon's "Basic Speed Law" says you must never ride faster than is safe. You must take into consideration all conditions that may affect your driving. These conditions include the number and speed of other users on the traffic system, particularly pedestrians, surface of the road or bike way, visibility, other weather conditions and children who may be playing nearby.
  • Do not ride your bicycle while under the influence of alcohol or drugs, the same laws apply to cyclists that govern motor vehicle operators.
Road Conditions:
  • Take into consideration congestion, road conditions, weather conditions and your bicycle-riding capabilities. Use routes that are smooth, level, wide and not crowded.
  • Be aware of road hazards, which are often hidden. Gravel, sand, leaves, mud, water, or ruts on pavement can cause you to lose control of your bicycle. Drainage grates and railroad tracks in the roadway can grab your wheel and upend you unless you cross them at right angles.
  • Visibility, stability and stopping ability are greatly impaired in wet weather. Bicyclists should take into consideration their experience and limitations when bicycling in wet weather. Be aware of the longer stopping distance required for braking.
  • Remember; pedestrians, roller-skaters, motorists and bicyclists must follow all traffic laws.