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  1. #1
    rugged individualist wphamilton's Avatar
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    Stop Signs, 2 Questions

    It boils down to two questions for me: Does anyone get cited for "stop as yield" rolling through stops, and do more than a small minority of cyclists come to complete stops at all stop signs?


    There is no doubt in my mind that I'd be every bit as safe slowing, checking for traffic and only stopping as necessary on a bike. That's not anything unique, because I've seen 4-way stops with lines of cars in all directions, no one ever stopping and yet it goes like clockwork. There would be frequent accidents if drivers couldn't handle it, but there aren't. So it's mainly about enforcement and expectations. If something is rarely if ever enforced then the literal law doesn't hold much authority. Secondly, if very few cyclists do complete stops at signs then rolling through is generally expected, so stopping every time would feel kind of dense and pointless (other than making a point). If the situation is more grey - half do and half don't, and typically cited when LEO is in the mood - then that's a different story.

    So what's your take on the two questions?

  2. #2
    Senior Member lanahk's Avatar
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    I can only answer for myself.
    I have not been cited, but have every reason I could be if I blew through a stop sign/light.
    I generally come to a complete stop if there are moving cars anywhere near me.

    I have been at a traffic light and proceeded on red when there were no cars approaching. I have slowed down at certain stop signs when I do have a clear line of sight of traffic and none is coming.

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    I have never received a ticket for failure to stop, but then I don't fail to actually stop.

    In my area (D/FW) there have been several communities (Parker, Celine, Lucas, etc...) where the police have made a point of issuing citations for failure to stop, usually after receiving multiple complaints about the recreational cyclists going through their neighbourhoods and failing to stop...

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    Keepin it Wheel RubeRad's Avatar
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    I stop at red lights relgiously, but at stop signs, usually I filter towards the front, and manage my speed so that I take off a the same time as a car, using the car as a shield. If there are no cars, I slow down probably not enough. If I am alone in my direction, and there are cars coming from other directions, I try to be conservative, slow, wag my head to tell cars to head through. But I never generally come to a full stop, I get down to maybe a 1-2mph almost track-stand, but try not to unclip.

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    Schwinn Magnet 63_dorinte's Avatar
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    I live in a rural area, and may get by with more than those in urban areas.

    Stop signs: "rolling stop", meaning slow to almost stop but not put a foot down, then go if the way is clear, put a foot down if there is traffic.

    Stop lights: stop on red always. We actually have a law that allows bicycles and motorcycles to proceed on red if the light has not changed in so many minutes (five IIRC), in case the vehicle cannot trip the traffic sensor. I have never needed to invoke this rule.

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    Stop sign: Come to a complete stop, scan carefully for potential conflicts, proceed.
    I think one can do a more effective scan when stopped.
    I don't want to give up the procedural level of safety that I obtain by following legal procedures.
    Also, by doing this, I simplify the separation task for myself and other road users.

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    My experience has been that police generally ignore bicyclists rolling through stop signs where other traffic is unaffected *except* when they have specifically been deployed to cite cyclists in response to some community complaints or department policy. We have a few communities locally where some residents are upset about the amount of bicycle traffic and request strict enforcement by the police or sheriff. In those cases citations have been given even to cyclists who slowed to one or two mph and made sure there was no opposing traffic.

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    Thirty years ago, I lived in a bike-dominated community that made a point of issuing citations for cyclists who didn't come to complete stops at stop signs. In fairness, they also nailed motorists for every infraction, so it was hard to whine much. We still whined, but it was hard to get any sympathy. I formed a bad habit of stopping at stop signs while I lived there and I just can't seem to break it.

    I don't think there are any communities that put much effort into traffic law enforcement, which may be why we have over two million roadway injuries per year in spite of the massive amount of protection for motorists that is found in today's cars. The predictable result is that very few people in cars or on bikes bother to follow the laws as written. I remember seeing a video put together by the Portland Police Bureau with the Bike Transportation Alliance where the cops acknowledged they are looking for intent, not compliance, and would be unlikely to cite a cyclist for a slow-and-roll.

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    It all depends on where you are. In the rural area where I live, even most cars roll stop signs if it's clear. Police don't care what bicycles do as long as it isn't causing anyone an issue. Near campus in town, where you have a lot of riders who totally blow through stop signs and do cause issues, there is some enforcement but even there coming to a near stop is fine. There are some jurisdictions where enforcement is scrupulous, so observe and speak with fellow cyclists in your area.

  10. #10
    Senior Member CommuteCommando's Avatar
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    I treat stop signs strictly by the right had rule, when others are present. Depending on visibility, I usually roll through them at from 10 to 20 mph, depending on conditions. I have never been cited. If I ever am, I'll pay the fine, and change my ways only to the extent that I'll look harder for the cops.

    I do not advocate running stops as a mater of course. That gray slushy thing between our ears is the most powerful safety device we have. I point out to any one who says anything to me-It has happened to me once or twice-that the speed I "blow" through that sign is about the same speed most cars "roll" through it. Since the bike is closer to cruising speed at this velocity, it creats an impresion that you are rolling through it faster than cars, when in fact you are not.
    Last edited by CommuteCommando; 08-25-13 at 10:03 PM.
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    Quote Originally Posted by wphamilton View Post
    It boils down to two questions for me: Does anyone get cited for "stop as yield" rolling through stops, and do more than a small minority of cyclists come to complete stops at all stop signs?


    There is no doubt in my mind that I'd be every bit as safe slowing, checking for traffic and only stopping as necessary on a bike. That's not anything unique, because I've seen 4-way stops with lines of cars in all directions, no one ever stopping and yet it goes like clockwork. There would be frequent accidents if drivers couldn't handle it, but there aren't. So it's mainly about enforcement and expectations. If something is rarely if ever enforced then the literal law doesn't hold much authority. Secondly, if very few cyclists do complete stops at signs then rolling through is generally expected, so stopping every time would feel kind of dense and pointless (other than making a point). If the situation is more grey - half do and half don't, and typically cited when LEO is in the mood - then that's a different story.

    So what's your take on the two questions?
    Some states have this as a law - that a stop sign or a red light can be treated by a cyclist as a yield (some conditions attached to that usage). I believe the study I saw said that there was no change in the accident rate after ratification.

    J.

  12. #12
    rugged individualist wphamilton's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by JohnJ80 View Post
    Some states have this as a law - that a stop sign or a red light can be treated by a cyclist as a yield (some conditions attached to that usage). I believe the study I saw said that there was no change in the accident rate after ratification.

    J.
    I think it's only Idaho currently, but if it's true that most cyclists are adopting the "Idaho Stop" it's only a matter of time. Objectively, it may in fact be safer by virtue of spending less time in the intersection.

    I can and have argued the other side, that it's better to come to a full stop every time because pedestrians have a right to expect the stop, and with that expectation will confidently walk out in front of a rider without any warning signs. You can't always see them, and they may assume you're stopping. It is after all the law. But that argument fails if rolling stop (or Idaho stop) is common and expected. And, of course, an emergency stop from 5 mph or even 10 mph doesn't put the pedestrian in that much danger.

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by wphamilton View Post
    I can and have argued the other side, that it's better to come to a full stop every time because pedestrians have a right to expect the stop, and with that expectation will confidently walk out in front of a rider without any warning signs. You can't always see them, and they may assume you're stopping. It is after all the law.
    this is why I stop at signs whether I'm in my car or on my bike. I've had a number of pedestrians just pop out from behind obstacles (bushes, parked cars, etc.) that it's just not worth having an accident to save a few seconds and the minimal effort of actually stopping. As you say, you are expected to stop.

    That said, it amazes me how people will just blithely walk out into the street and trust that anyone coming at them will stop. I guess it's years of walking in big cities, but I always try to make sure that the vehicle coming at me sees me and is going to actually stop.

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    Stops signs are part of my work out. I will stop at a stop sign and hold/balance on bike without putting my feet/foot on the grund and then continue. There are 4 stop signs on my route and I stop and hold at each sign. Stop lights I always stop at and wait for green. If I have to ride on the side walk, only when unsafe on the street, the walkers always have the right of way, and if I have to I will get off of my bike and walk.

  15. #15
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    I know of one person in my office who got a ticket for not putting a foot down at a stop sign near Woodland Avenue in the Bay Area, CA. There is also one specific stop sign on Skyline that is supposed to have a strict police officer who cites cyclists for not stopping. These are known areas where cyclists had better stop.

    I sometimes roll through if no one else is at the intersection - it depends on the location of the intersection. I'd never do it downtown - only in some parts of suburbia. If there is another car at the intersection, I make it a point to unclip and put my foot down - track standing leaves motorists confused about my intention and they try to wave me through. This usually doesn't work too well at 4 way stop signs.
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    Senior Member FenderTL5's Avatar
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    I have not been cited, for any reason (so far).
    I stop if there are cars anywhere near me. The only exception being the busy four-way where no one actually stops, it's just a timed slow though from all directions, all types of vehicles

    I stop at red lights. Since almost all are loop sensors (that I can't trip), whether or not I yield and proceed or wait for the light to change depends on time of day, location, and traffic conditions.
    Nashville, like L.A. without a tan.

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    I've never been cited (on a car or a bike) and I generally use the "Idaho stop". I'm a firm believer that most stop signs could be replaced by yields and everyone would still be fine. I don't remember hearing of too many LEOs handing out tickets for stop sign violations unless it caused a collision. They do regularly ticket cars for red-light running.

  18. #18
    rugged individualist wphamilton's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by spivonious View Post
    I've never been cited (on a car or a bike) and I generally use the "Idaho stop". I'm a firm believer that most stop signs could be replaced by yields and everyone would still be fine. I don't remember hearing of too many LEOs handing out tickets for stop sign violations unless it caused a collision. They do regularly ticket cars for red-light running.

    It makes sense and brings up another point I'd forgotten about. I've read elsewhere and it seems right, that the majority of the stop signs are placed as traffic calming measures. Particularly in the residential areas. Perhaps one of the traffic engineers will chime in about that.

    Anyway, pure traffic calming has the objective of reducing motor vehicle speeds, essentially making it more difficult for the motorist to get up to his preferred full speed between stops. This objective has little to do with bicycles that seldom attain those speeds and pose less danger at any speed. Except in isolated examples such as some have brought up here. So it seems to me that's a strong justification for using the Idaho stop at stop signs.

    it's also an argument against the adoption of Idaho Stops in traffic statutes, used by bicycle advocates. They don't want any law that distinguishes bicycle traffic from other traffic, fearing to set a precedent for treating cyclists as second-class traffic.

  19. #19
    Senior Member jrickards's Avatar
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    There was a discussion recently in a Toronto (Ontario, Canada) blog about "traffic/noise calming" stops and "right-of-way" stops. The author wanted to suggest that since bikes aren't part of the traffic/noise calming targets, they should be allowed to roll through such stop signs but, like all vehicles, be required to stop at "right-of-way" stops. It makes sense but might be difficult to monitor.

    On my morning commute when I am on the road often between 6:00 and 7:30, mostly on residential streets, I roll, no blow through, most stop signs but only ones that I can see every direction for at least 100m (yd). If I can't see that far, I'll slow or stop if necessary.

  20. #20
    ouate de phoque dramiscram's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by spivonious View Post
    I'm a firm believer that most stop signs could be replaced by yields and everyone would still be fine.
    My best friend bought a house 2 years ago in a new development and it's all yield signs instead of stop sign. It works very well in a quiet residential area.
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  21. #21
    High Plains Luddite
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    First, let me say I am one of those annoying people (to those behind me) when I drive my car in that I come to a FULL stop at EVERY stop sign, ALWAYS. It's just not worth the risk of a ticket and the risk of hitting a kid on a scooter or something to save 0.01 second of time.

    And, thankfully I commute by bike on trails and MUPs and quiet residential streets, so I roll through most stop signs on these quiet neighborhood streets IF there are no cars in sight. If there's a moving car within sight, I stop, if only so they won't think, "oh, there goes another of those evil scofflaw bikers", but also for safety. There's one stop sign 3/4 of the way up a long hill that I HATE to stop for, but I do when there's a car around.

    However, just for the sake of discussion, it seems to me that you are required to carry a drivers license when you operate a motor vehicle but there is no such requirement on a bike. And I'll admit I still look at a lot of bike stuff as I did when I was a kid - as if the bike is the equivalent of a skateboard or roller skates or a pogo stick - WHEN USED ON QUIET RESIDENTIAL STREETS, NOT OUT IN TRAFFIC. <--- I understand that last part very well.

    So what would happen if a cop pulled you over (assuming he could catch you - where I live there are so many trails and I know all the cut-throughs in the neighborhoods that a cop in a car wouldn't stand a chance) and you didn't have ID (it's perfectly legal not to have any) and used your Fifth Amendment right to remain silent.

    Sure, he could probably haul you to jail, maybe, although I don't see stop-sign running IN A QUIET RESIDENTIAL AREA (just stressing that again) as a crime worthy of an officer's time doing all that paperwork, having to appear in court, and so forth.

    I hope cops have better things to do and wouldn't bother a rider who looks like he rides regularly when he blows a stop sign on a quiet street with no other moving cars anywhere around. You guys know what I mean by the look of the biker, right? Helmet, lights maybe, tight shorts, body posture and position on the road that says "I ride regularly", etc. - as compared to a shirtless guy in flip-flops on a cruiser bike with a beer in the cupholder and so forth.

    Last part and then I'll stop with this already-too-long post:

    Let's say a rider blows a stop sign, and a cop sees it, goes after the cyclist, and the cyclist stops and presents his motor vehicle drivers license. Does the cop write a ticket as if the guy was driving a car, and does the cyclist then get points on his motor vehicle drivers license and then pay higher car insurance rates?

    If so, and if in the quiet residential streets of which I speak, I say that's wrong.

    Feel free to disagree but that's how I see it.

  22. #22
    rugged individualist wphamilton's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Squeeze View Post
    So what would happen if a cop pulled you over (assuming he could catch you - where I live there are so many trails and I know all the cut-throughs in the neighborhoods that a cop in a car wouldn't stand a chance) and you didn't have ID (it's perfectly legal not to have any) and used your Fifth Amendment right to remain silent.
    ...
    Does the cop write a ticket as if the guy was driving a car, and does the cyclist then get points on his motor vehicle drivers license ...
    I think you have a number of good points and I for one am just about persuaded. Like you, while driving I stop at all stop signs regardless, and generally observe the letter of the law where it is prudent.

    You asked a couple of questions (excerpted above) that I've seen before.

    The police do have the authority (unfortunate in my opinion) to demand to know your identity, even though as you said you are not required to carry a driver's license or state ID. Refusing on Fifth Amendment grounds has been tested a few times and ultimately doesn't hold up. The courts don't believe that simply giving your name is potentially incriminating.


    Generally speaking an infraction while cycling does not appear on your driving record, nor impact your auto insurance rates. That potentially depends on the jurisdiction however, and conceivably an insurance company's risk evaluation could be influenced by infractions while cycling if they somehow got wind of it. But my understanding is that, so far, that doesn't happen.

  23. #23
    High Plains Luddite
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    Quote Originally Posted by wphamilton View Post
    Refusing on Fifth Amendment grounds has been tested a few times and ultimately doesn't hold up. The courts don't believe that simply giving your name is potentially incriminating.
    Fair enough. I'm not an attorney and wasn't aware that had been tested in court. I'm not surprised but I hadn't heard of it.

    Generally speaking an infraction while cycling does not appear on your driving record, nor impact your auto insurance rates. That potentially depends on the jurisdiction however, and conceivably an insurance company's risk evaluation could be influenced by infractions while cycling if they somehow got wind of it. But my understanding is that, so far, that doesn't happen.
    Glad to hear that. Again, I've been talking about quiet residential areas. If a cyclist were to blow a stop sign in heavy traffic and cause an accident (or not), I say throw the book at him. As for me, I'll continue sneaking around neighborhood streets and the awesome trails around my house and let others test their mettle in traffic.

    Interesting topic (for me, anyway, since this isn't a re-run to me as someone returning to cycling after a long absence). Thanks for starting it, wph.

  24. #24
    www.ocrebels.com Rick@OCRR's Avatar
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    Yes, I did get a ticket for failure to come to a complete stop . . . $288.00 plus the cost of Traffic School to keep it off my record.

    However, it wasn't commuting, it was on the Eastern Sierra Double Century near Mammoth Lakes, CA crossing Hwy 395. I did slow down quite a lot, I did look for traffic, but no I didn't come to a complete stop. So I got a ticket from the Highway Patrol.

    When commuting I usually come to a complete or almost complete stop (for stop signs and for traffic lights).

    Rick / OCRR

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    High Plains Luddite
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    Rick, that was the scenario I was imagining when I wrote my first post in this thread. I think that's absurd.

    And consider this: what if you weren't a licensed motor vehicle driver? Let's say you were 14 years old. Let's say you had too many DUI/DWI offenses and had your license revoked for life. Let's say you lived in NYC and never had a need to get a licence ever. Let's say you couldn't qualify for a license for some medical reason. All these are valid reasons not to have a license.

    What then? No ticket? Or just no class?

    And what if you had been riding something other than a bike? Skateboard? Riding lawn mower? How about one of those surfboards with wheels and a sail? What if you had been jogging? Can you get busted for not stopping at a stop sign as a pedestrian? What if you're walking your dog, he sees a rabbit, and starts running. You accidentally drop the leash and the dog runs the stop sign. Are you busted and sent to traffic school due to your poorly trained dog and girly-man grip?

    Absurd extremes intended only to illustrate my point. Hopefully they're amusing instead of infuriating.

    But really, where does one draw the line? If the least of a vehicle that can get you a ticket is a bicycle, what about a unicycle? A Razor scooter? What about a skateboard with a little motor on the back? Or those "Heely's" shoes that were all the rage a few years ago with kids - the ones with retractable wheels in their thick soles?

    Okay, okay... I've made my point and will do my best to be quiet now before I get flamed or banned or stabbed with rusty spokes or whatever happens to trouble-makers here.

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