Coming to a State Near You?
The Idaho Cyclist Stop Law: revered by cyclists here in Idaho since it was adopted in 1982 and coveted by cycling activists in other states.
This statute basically allows the cyclist to treat a stop sign like a yield sign, and a red light like a stop sign, as long as the right-of-way of other vehicles is respected. Here is the relevant verbiage from the statute:
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 slowing to 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 a person after slowing to a reasonable speed and yielding the right-of-way if required, may cautiously make a turn or proceed through the intersection without stopping.
(2) A person operating a bicycle or human-powered vehicle approaching a steady red traffic control light shall stop before entering the intersection and shall yield to all other traffic. Once the person has yielded, he may proceed through the steady red light with caution. Provided however, that a person after slowing to a reasonable speed and yielding the right-of-way if required, may cautiously make a right-hand turn. A left-hand turn onto a one-way highway may be made on a red light after stopping and yielding to other traffic.
Supporters of this law made an unsuccessful attempt to get it passed in Oregon this year, and will presumably try again next year. As part of that effort, proponents from Idaho submitted study results indicating that this law did not lead to increased cyclist/motorist collisions after it was adopted here in Idaho 27 years ago. Having not yet seen the data leading to this conclusion, I am not in a position to assess its validity. One of their justifications for the law is that it simply codifies what many cyclists do anyway. “Codifying existing behavior” seems like a slippery slope to me; this is how California has wound up with near-freeway speed limits on many of its arterial roads, making them considerably less cycling-friendly.
In the wake of three recent cyclist fatalities here in Boise, the Mayor has convened a task force to develop strategies for making our city a safer place to ride a bicycle. While amending state laws is not directly in their scope, I have voiced concerns to the task force that maintaining two different sets of rules, one for motorists and one for cyclists, increases ambiguity and decreases predictability, thereby reducing safety. It should be noted that many motorists here, and even some cyclists, are unaware that this law exists.
I am interested in hearing your thoughts. Would you support the adoption of this law in your state?