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  1. #1
    High Roller
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    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?

  2. #2
    Senior Member sggoodri's Avatar
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    Drivers or pedestrians on intersecting paths often look for a driver's preparation to stop as indication of preparedness to yield. They are more likely to hesitate or worry when they see a driver approaching a stop sign but who does not appear to be preparing to stop. The cyclist may have a plan for avoiding conflict, but the other road users may not know that. This could result in more confusion about cyclists' intent.

    What research exists on safety analysis of yield signs versus stop signs for motor vehicle drivers? What motivates the increased use of stop signs in the US particularly?

  3. #3
    High Roller
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    Particularly in the last year or two, I have observed more apparent confusion at intersections, where motorists want to cede me their right of way. I don't think one could attribute this to the Idaho Stop Law, though, since it has been in effect for 27 years. More likely it relects distrust bred from the recent upward trend in unlawful cycling behavior.

    Good question regarding the use of yield signs vs. stop signs in the U.S. I'll have to do some research to see if that sheds any light on the issue.

  4. #4
    Senior Member DX Rider's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by High Roller View Post
    I am interested in hearing your thoughts. Would you support the adoption of this law in your state?
    This law has been discussed in previous posts on this forum. Considering the comments that have read from other Idaho riders, revered is not the description I'd use.

    From the comments of other BF members the only thing this law seems to do is promote dangerous behavior, since it opens up the meaning of a stop light to interpretation. Which has lead to bicyclists being seriously injured due to poor judgement and others getting cited for failure to yield by cops who don't agreement with the bicyclists assessment of when it was appropriate to ignore a legal traffic signal.

    In my opinion? Given the judgement of some people, leaving the decision whether or not to wait out a light up to an individuals discretion is just a bad idea.

    Some people are morons and will cut into heavy traffic.
    Quote Originally Posted by stronglight View Post
    There is just no cure for stupid.
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  5. #5
    Al noisebeam's Avatar
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    4-way stops are all to often inappropriately used for traffic calming, and fail at that.

    Stops signs are often placed where a full stop is never required for the driver of any type of vehicle to be able to determine with accuracy if there is potential conflicting traffic or pedestrians.

    Stops in and only in specific places like this (good sight lines at intersection approach on lower speed roads with low pedestrian usage) should be replaced with Yield signs.

    If an intersection does not have good sight lines until driver is at the 'stop line' then that intersection should require a stop for all vehicles, as they should for intersections that have high pedestrian usage.

  6. #6
    Al noisebeam's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by High Roller View Post
    (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.
    This portion of the law has a very undesirable consequence. It removes the need/motivation/expectation/design-rule that traffic signal activation on demand will work for all types of vehicles including bicycles. This means that cyclists who want or, even more importantly, need a green light to cross will have a much harder or even impossible course of action to have municipalities design, fix or maintain vehicle detectors to work for bicycles.

  7. #7
    High Roller
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    Interesting observation, Noisebeam. Some have speculated that this law was passed primarily to get Highway Districts off the hook from having to ensure that demand-actuated traffic signals function properly for all vehicles.

  8. #8
    www.chipsea.blogspot.com ChipSeal's Avatar
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    Perhaps streamlining citizen requests for stop signs to be changed to yield signs is in order?
    Vehicular cycling techniques have not been tried and found difficult. They have been presumed difficult and not tried.

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by ChipSeal View Post
    Perhaps streamlining citizen requests for stop signs to be changed to yield signs is in order?
    If "citizens" don't have the ability to not drift into the shoulder, why would you presume that they have the ability to determine that a stop should be a yield?

  10. #10
    Al noisebeam's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by njkayaker View Post
    If "citizens" don't have the ability to not drift into the shoulder, why would you presume that they have the ability to determine that a stop should be a yield?
    I would presume the idea is that citizens make requests and the number of requests for each intersection prioritizes which intersections are then reviewed by engineers to determine if a yield sign is appropriate or not based on documented guidelines.

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by noisebeam View Post
    I would presume the idea is that citizens make requests and the number of requests for each intersection prioritizes which intersections are then reviewed by engineers to determine if a yield sign is appropriate or not based on documented guidelines.
    Who is saying that that isn't how things currently work? What, in this situation, does "streamlining" mean? I wonder if there is a lot of clamoring to create more yields.

    If most drivers are stupid, making it easier for them to get what they want doesn't seem like a good idea!
    Last edited by njkayaker; 07-29-09 at 01:58 PM.

  12. #12
    High Roller
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    If most drivers are stupid, making it easier for them to get what they want doesn't seem like a good idea!
    This is a good candidate for a new signature line.

  13. #13
    LCI #1853
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    The "Idaho Stop Law" was proposed for adoption in several state legislatures earlier this year. It failed in every single one, because it encourages behavior that would be illegal for any other vehicle driver and dilutes the meaning/purpose of those traffic signals, however over-used they might be.

    One of the greatest cycling sins cited by our fellow travelers are cyclists running stop signs and red lights, and riding three or more abreast, apparently blocking the traffic lanes. This is something where we're our own worst enemy, and encouraging these sorts of behaviors is the wrong thing to do.

  14. #14
    www.chipsea.blogspot.com ChipSeal's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by njkayaker View Post
    If "citizens" don't have the ability to not drift into the shoulder, why would you presume that they have the ability to determine that a stop should be a yield?
    I do not hold the position you presume I have. I think that some motorists operate their vehicles carelessly and heedlessly in willful or wanton disregard of the rights or safety of others. In other words, they are reckless drivers. They have the ability to pilot their vehicles in a safe manner, they just aren't exercising that ability.

    Therefore, in a defensive measure to assure my own safety on the public road, I ride lawfully in the lane, where I capture these reckless motorist's attention and hold their attention until they manage to safely overtake me.

    Think of it as my way of making them step up to their "A" game!
    Vehicular cycling techniques have not been tried and found difficult. They have been presumed difficult and not tried.

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