A new law in Oregon will let drivers pass a slow-moving cyclist in a no-passing zone.
Starting Jan. 1, vehicles traveling at less than half the speed limit will be considered road obstructions. Therefore, drivers in no passing zones will be allowed to cross into the left lane of the roadway to get around them.
Eugene resident Richard Hughes, a self-described bicycle advocate, requested the law. It was formally introduced by Sen. Floyd Prozanski of Eugene and Rep. Tom Andersen of Salem. It was approved during the 2023 legislative session with no votes in opposition in either chamber.
Hughes said it’s unnerving for cyclists when drivers trail them for miles on rural roads.
“Sometimes they’re pretty close, and you kind of wonder what their intentions are,” he said. “I think most of them think that it’s illegal to pass, which is correct, and there’s not enough room to get around in that travel lane.”
Hughes said many cars already pass cyclists in these situations, at unsafe speeds and distances. Under the new rules, drivers will need to slow to at least 5 mph below the speed limit when passing.
“Taking consideration of the other population on the road, whether it be a slow-moving piece of farm equipment, a slower driver or a cyclist, was the impetus for doing this,” said Hughes.
When travelling at over 35 mph, Oregon drivers must also maintain enough distance while passing to avoid a falling cyclist.