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  1. #1
    Senior Member work4bike's Avatar
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    Idaho Stop Law -- The Problem

    I actually like the concept behind the Idaho Stop Law as depicted here http://vimeo.com/4140910

    However, the problem is that cyclists don't follow the rules of this law, at least in my observation. But beyond my personal observations, I've seen the misunderstanding of this law in numerous Reader's Comments section of various cycling-related news articles. Anyone that has read these comments have, undoubtedly seen the back-and-forths between cyclists and anti-cyclists. What I've noticed is that some anti-cyclist person will complain about some cyclist blowing through a stop sign causing them to stop suddenly, but the cyclist will defend this behaviour in the name of the Idaho Stop Law. Problem is, the cyclist should have stopped IAW the law.

    Like I said, I like the concept behind the law and the above video does a really good job at illustrating the proper use of a bike with respect to this law, but just seems like many cyclists believe that they can roll thru a stop, regardless.
    "The aim of science is to make difficult things understandable in a simpler way; the aim of poetry is to state simple things in an incomprehensible way. The two are incompatible."

    -- Paul Dirac

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    Senior Member Looigi's Avatar
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    There is no "Idaho stop law" where I ride so I do not use it to defend my blowing through stop signs. However, I do not blow through stop signs in such a manner that would cause other traffic to have to brake differently than they would have had to had I not.

  3. #3
    Been Around Awhile I-Like-To-Bike's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by john gault View Post
    Anyone that has read these comments have, undoubtedly seen the back-and-forths between cyclists and anti-cyclists. What I've noticed is that some anti-cyclist person will complain about some cyclist blowing through a stop sign causing them to stop suddenly,
    I never read of any motorist with the actual experience of having to stop suddenly due to a cyclist "blowing" a light or stop sign. I am sure it does happen occasionally, just like motorists have to stop suddenly for other motorists and pedestrians who are careless at intersections. The often repeated complaints on BF (and elsewhere) of the "problem" of cyclists "blowing" lights or stop signs, implying that it is done by adult cyclists without any concern for others approaching or in the the intersection, is mostly hot air rhetoric and Urban myth, IMO.

    I have read often of self styled cyclist "advocates" making comments about motorists complaining about cyclists that don't stop at stop signs, regardless if it affected the motorist's driving.

    These motorist comments are usually made in the same context of whining that cyclists don't pay for the roads and should be taxed, insured and licensed just like motorists, maybe even forced to wear helmets to teach them a lesson too.

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    I live in Idaho and actually have had more problems with cars not going when I'm coming to an intersection when it is their right of way. The result is frustration on both sides since I end up having to stop instead of rolling through after them and they are frustrated because I did not go when they were waiting for me.

    As to some cyclists blowing through stop signs or lights, it does happen quite a bit, but that has much more to do with this being a college town (not sure how so many people actually survive the college years and reproduce) than with the stop law.

    I like the law as it allows me, at the slow pace of a bike, to see that the intersection is clear and keep moving. I tend to behave similarly when I cross the border into Washington, but I always feel guilty.

  5. #5
    Randomhead
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    Laws should be written in such a way that if everyone follows them the road system functions properly, not trying to manipulate people by putting up a stop sign when a yield would do. Putting up stop signs everywhere has had the perverse effect of making stop sign compliance very low -- even at intersections where it is imperative that they be followed. Now we have graduated to stop lights everywhere because road-users still comply with those, but that's going to change if they keep proliferating.

    I've come to the conclusion that nobody knows the law, they are just running around looking for things to be angry about. I see plenty of motorists brake-checking each other, I suspect these are the same self-centered individuals that run stop signs at speed on their bike and brake-check other road users.

  6. #6
    Senior Member work4bike's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by I-Like-To-Bike View Post
    I never read of any motorist with the actual experience of having to stop suddenly due to a cyclist "blowing" a light or stop sign. I am sure it does happen occasionally, just like motorists have to stop suddenly for other motorists and pedestrians who are careless at intersections. The often repeated complaints on BF (and elsewhere) of the "problem" of cyclists "blowing" lights or stop signs, implying that it is done by adult cyclists without any concern for others approaching or in the the intersection, is mostly hot air rhetoric and Urban myth, IMO.
    Oh, I've seen it, but to be fair my wording, "blow thru", was not the best way to describe what I see most of the time, which is cyclists coming to a stop sign (with multiple stops) almost always go thru first, even when, by the rules of the road they should have let the vehicle go first. And this is in a state without the Idaho stop law.

    However, even with the Idaho Stop Law one should stop when there's another vehicle arriving at the intersection at the same time http://www.cyclelicio.us/2009/04/ida...-cyclists.html

    49-720. STOPPING -- TURN AND STOP SIGNALS. (1) A person operating a bicycle or human-powered vehicle approaching a stop sign shall slow down and,if required for safety, stop before entering the intersection. After slowingto a reasonable speed or stopping, the person shall yield the right-of-way to any vehicle in the intersection or approaching on another highway so closely as to constitute an immediate hazard during the time the person is moving across or within the intersection or junction of highways, except that aperson after slowing to a reasonable speed and yielding the right-of-way ifrequired, may cautiously make a turn or proceed through the intersection without stopping.
    "The aim of science is to make difficult things understandable in a simpler way; the aim of poetry is to state simple things in an incomprehensible way. The two are incompatible."

    -- Paul Dirac

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    Senior Member work4bike's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by hyegeek View Post
    I live in Idaho and actually have had more problems with cars not going when I'm coming to an intersection when it is their right of way. The result is frustration on both sides since I end up having to stop instead of rolling through after them and they are frustrated because I did not go when they were waiting for me.

    As to some cyclists blowing through stop signs or lights, it does happen quite a bit, but that has much more to do with this being a college town (not sure how so many people actually survive the college years and reproduce) than with the stop law.

    I like the law as it allows me, at the slow pace of a bike, to see that the intersection is clear and keep moving. I tend to behave similarly when I cross the border into Washington, but I always feel guilty.
    I see the same thing here in Florida, even when a car clearly arrives before me at an intersection and have the right-of-way, they just sit there and wait for me, but I always wave them thru. I've gotten in the habit, when approaching a 4-way stop, to signal the vehilce(s) through.

    BTW, I also like your law, it's just common sense, I just wish people would understand the laws a little better. As I said, we don't have that law here, but from what I've seen, if it were adopted than most likely the bad behaviour I've seen would only get worse, since people seem to not read the law, rather learn them via word-of-mouth, and we've all played that game where you whisper in someone's ear....
    "The aim of science is to make difficult things understandable in a simpler way; the aim of poetry is to state simple things in an incomprehensible way. The two are incompatible."

    -- Paul Dirac

  8. #8
    genec genec's Avatar
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    Again, as always, it comes down to better education of just basic stuff. My question is since we don't seem to want to educate road users in our public schools, and the 40 hour driving training given once in a persons' life doesn't seem to stick forever... why is it that we don't have regular PSAs that show proper driving practice... heck we have commercials for everything else on TV, how about a campaign for safe road use, based on correct practices. The various bicycle and automotive industries could be tapped for the funding... along with a touch from the state and federal government.

    I wonder about this all the time as there are safe boating practice commercials and posters in my area, but nothing regarding driving. I don't even see the old "buckle up" commercials from decades ago.

    Other countries (England is an example) does have safety PSAs. Why don't we?

  9. #9
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    I agree with I-Like-To-Bike above. I don't know anyone who "blows through" stops. Everyone I know at least slows way down, and most stop totally--THEN they go. I also think it's largely an urban myth. I'm sure some morons do blow through stops without looking, but I think they are very rare and I'm sure natural selection takes its toll on them.
    1964 JRJ (Bob Jackson), 1973 Wes Mason, 2000ish Colian (Colin Laing), 2013 Velo Orange Pass Hunter

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    Quote Originally Posted by lostarchitect View Post
    I'm sure some morons do blow through stops without looking, but I think they are very rare and I'm sure natural selection takes its toll on them.
    The cyclist that hit one of my co-workers only suffered a broken leg. If he's the same moron who almost hit me, he not only did not slow when he crossed the road (from a bike path with a stop sign) he didn't even look up. If I had not been watching him in stunned disbelief, I would have been hit the same as my co-worker. natural selection does not mean he won't screw with a few more people before he's taken out.

  11. #11
    incazzare. lostarchitect's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by hyegeek View Post
    The cyclist that hit one of my co-workers only suffered a broken leg. If he's the same moron who almost hit me, he not only did not slow when he crossed the road (from a bike path with a stop sign) he didn't even look up. If I had not been watching him in stunned disbelief, I would have been hit the same as my co-worker. natural selection does not mean he won't screw with a few more people before he's taken out.

    Like I said, I don't doubt that they exist, I just doubt that they are common.
    1964 JRJ (Bob Jackson), 1973 Wes Mason, 2000ish Colian (Colin Laing), 2013 Velo Orange Pass Hunter

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    I've seen plenty of idiot hipster cyclists blow through stop signs, red lights, and turn without signaling, all causing motorists to brake and/or swerve.

    Even though there is no "Idaho Stop Law" in PA, it is how I treat stop signs if I can see that no traffic is approaching. I always stop at red lights.

  13. #13
    Lover of Old Chrome Moly Myosmith's Avatar
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    the "problem" of cyclists "blowing" lights or stop signs, implying that it is done by adult cyclists without any concern for others approaching or in the the intersection, is mostly hot air rhetoric and Urban myth
    I agree that the majority of adult cyclists are well behaved and level headed, even if some don't follow the letter of the law (I'll admit that I don't come to a complete stop at every stop sign), but just as there are car drivers who think the road is their personal speedway and drive with reckless disregard for others, there are a limited number of cyclists with the same attitude. Urban stunt riding or "urban attack" as the younger set call it has gained some popularity. It appears to be a blend of Danny MacAskill style stunt riding and hardcore New York bike messenger as seen in the movie Premium Rush. The problem is that it takes just a handfull of these guys to turn a lot of the non-cycling public against bicycles in general despite the 1,000s of responsible cyclists out there. Just go on YouTube and use terms like Crazy Bike Messenger or Insane Fixie and you'll see plenty of videos posted depicting and glorifying dangerous and reckless riding. Check out the number of blown red lights, unsignalled illegal lane changes, close passes on crowded pedestrian cross walks and more than one sideways glance at car hitting the brakes in the middle of intersections - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YTbqPvECODI. While not common, unfortunately there are those who imitate this behavior.

    Back to the OP, I like the concept of decriminalizing the rolling stop or slow n go for cyclists. The big problem I can see is educating the public as to why bicycles can do it an not motorcyles or other vehicles. "If they can roll through a stop sign at an empty intersection, why can't I?". I can also see it creating a gray area for law enforcement as to what constitutes an appropriate yeild.
    Last edited by Myosmith; 10-09-12 at 11:37 AM.
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  14. #14
    Senior Member dougmc's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by john gault View Post
    However, the problem is that cyclists don't follow the rules of this law, at least in my observation.
    Well, that law is only the law in Idaho, so there's no reason cyclists would be following the rules of it anywhere else.

    Anywhere else, if a cyclist runs a stop sign, he's breaking the law. If he does it at walking speed, the odds are high that a cop will do nothing if he sees it, but he might -- it's technically still illegal.

    Now, if your argument is that "cyclists run stop signs (in states other than Idaho) in situations that even the Idaho stop law would not permit, therefore the Idaho stop law doesn't work", well, that's a pretty weak argument, as 1) it's only the law in one state, and 2) you'll find that the existing stop sign laws in all fifty states are broken. Relaxing them somewhat might make them be broken less often, but I wouldn't expect that to make them never be broken.

    Texas is about to have a tollroad with an 85 mph speed limit. It's the highest posted speed limit in the country -- but I'm pretty sure somebody's still going to exceed it, probably within minutes of the tollway opening. Does this mean that speed limits shouldn't ever be raised? (Perhaps they shouldn't, but this isn't a good reason not to do so.)

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    Quote Originally Posted by Myosmith View Post
    I was waiting for one the cyclists to get creamed by a car, or pushed off his bike by a pedestrian. Hopefully these idiots win the Darwin Award soon.

  16. #16
    Been Around Awhile I-Like-To-Bike's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by dougmc View Post
    Well, that law is only the law in Idaho, so there's no reason cyclists would be following the rules of it anywhere else.

    Anywhere else, if a cyclist runs a stop sign, he's breaking the law. If he does it at walking speed, the odds are high that a cop will do nothing if he sees it, but he might -- it's technically still illegal.

    Now, if your argument is that "cyclists run stop signs (in states other than Idaho) in situations that even the Idaho stop law would not permit, therefore the Idaho stop law doesn't work", well, that's a pretty weak argument, as 1) it's only the law in one state, and 2) you'll find that the existing stop sign laws in all fifty states are broken. Relaxing them somewhat might make them be broken less often, but I wouldn't expect that to make them never be broken.

    Texas is about to have a tollroad with an 85 mph speed limit. It's the highest posted speed limit in the country -- but I'm pretty sure somebody's still going to exceed it, probably within minutes of the tollway opening. Does this mean that speed limits shouldn't ever be raised? (Perhaps they shouldn't, but this isn't a good reason not to do so.)
    Presumably the intent of the traffic code for stop signs is to promote safety or some other social good like keep the flow of traffic smooth, not just keep people from "breaking the law." Relaxing the existing stop sign laws should be judged by its effect on safety/traffic flow, not on the abstract concept of its effect on making people toe the line and "obey."

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