Tips For Safer Motorcycle Riding in Oregon This Summer

Summer is the perfect season for motorcycle enthusiasts to explore the scenic routes of Oregon. From the breathtaking coastal roads to the lush green landscapes of the Willamette Valley to our State’s more open eastern country, Oregon offers some of the most spectacular rides around. At The Corson & Johnson Law Firm, we are committed to helping you stay safe on the road. While we are not motorcycling experts, we have represented many injured motorcyclists over the years and have seen some of the same recurring problems.  Unfortunately, many crashes are not avoidable from the rider’s point of view.  But here is a list of tips to make sure you stay safer on your motorcycle this summer.

1. Motorcycle Equipment

To be street legal, a motorcycle must have:

  • A white headlight, illuminated at all times. Motorcycles must have at least one, but not more than three, white headlights.
  • At least one red taillight with a red stop lamp.
  • At least one red reflector on the rear, one white license plate light, one rear-view mirror, and a horn.
  • Turn signal lights. (Motorcycles built before 1973 are not required to have turn signal lights, however, vehicles without turn signal lights may not be operated after dark.)
  • Fenders on all wheels.
  • At least one brake operated by hand or foot.
  • An exhaust system in good working order and in constant operation.
  • A valid license plate mounted to be easily read and plainly visible from the rear.

While it’s not the law, always carry a basic repair kit and an emergency kit that includes a first aid kit, water, and non-perishable snacks. Ensure your cell phone is fully charged and consider carrying a portable charger.

2. Some Important Motorcycle Laws

A motorcycle may share a lane only with one other motorcycle. Lane sharing with any other vehicle is illegal.  (Unlike California, lane splitting is not legal in Oregon).

After coming to a complete stop, if a traffic light controlled by a vehicle sensor fails to detect the motorcycle after waiting one full cycle of the light, the rider may proceed with caution, yielding to other vehicles.

Operators may not transport or carry any object that interferes with their ability to hold the handlebars.

All operators must wear a US DOT-compliant helmet.

If a motorcycle operator carries a passenger, the motorcycle must have a passenger seat and footrests. Passengers are only permitted to ride on a passenger seat behind the operator or in a sidecar. Passengers are also required to wear DOT-compliant motorcycle helmets.

3. Follow the Licensing Rules. All Motorcycle Operators in Oregon Must:

  • Have a valid motorcycle-endorsed driver license or a valid motorcycle instruction permit.
  • Register their motorcycle and display a valid license plate.
  • Have liability insurance.
  • Carry their endorsed driver license or motorcycle instruction permit and driver license, vehicle registration card, and current proof of insurance when riding.

Motorcycle operators riding on a motorcycle instruction permit must also be supervised by an endorsed rider age 21 years or older operating a separate motorcycle, ride only during daylight hours, and not carry passengers.

The licensing rules are in part to help riders be safer.  Learn about how to earn a motorcycle endorsement in Oregon.

4. Gear Up for the Weather

Oregon’s summer can be deceptively cool at times, especially along the coast and at higher elevations. While it might be tempting to ride with minimal gear on warmer days, it’s crucial to wear protective clothing. Consider light, breathable, but protective gear to shield yourself from both the sun and potential road hazards.  Gear should be highly visible (we can’t tell you how often the at-fault car or truck driver says after a crash with a motorcycle, “I didn’t see them”). Good boots, gloves, and eye protection are part of staying safe. Jackets and pants with venting will help manage the heat without compromising on safety. When a rider hits the pavement at high speed, protective gear can make a huge difference.

5. Stay Hydrated

Dehydration can happen quickly, particularly on long rides under the summer sun. It impairs your cognitive functions, affecting your reaction time and decision-making. Carry a hydration pack or plan frequent stops to replenish fluids. If you’re feeling thirsty, you’re already dehydrated.  If your urine is not light colored, you are not getting enough water.

6. Check Your Bike Pre-Ride

Summer heat can affect your motorcycle’s performance. Check your tire pressure and tread depth; heat can cause tires to overinflate. Heat is the enemy of tires; the hotter the tire gets, the more likely it is to fail.  Ensure your engine fluids are topped off and that your brakes and lights are in good working order. This is especially crucial for early morning rides or late evening returns when visibility is reduced.

7. Plan Your Route

Oregon’s diverse landscapes mean rapidly changing conditions. Whether you’re cruising  coastal highways where fog can roll in quickly or navigating mountain passes that may still have lingering patches of gravel or cinder from winter, knowing your route in advance can help you avoid surprises. Also, use the Oregon Department of Transportation’s trip check website for real-time updates on road conditions.

8. Be Wildlife Aware

Summer is active for wildlife. Be particularly cautious during dawn and dusk when many animals are most active. If you see an animal crossing the road, slow down and do not swerve suddenly—this can cause a more serious accident.

Conclusion

Riding a motorcycle in Oregon’s summer can be a great experience. At The Corson & Johnson Law Firm, your safety is our priority. Enjoy your ride and stay safe this summer!