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Thoughts on stop signs

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Thoughts on stop signs

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Old 10-27-14, 07:16 AM
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Thoughts on stop signs

A friend and I were talking about biking to work and I was telling him (as much as I knew/understood) about the "Idaho stop" law, he was intrigued. He suggested that perhaps we could approach our city about trying to enact something similar by modifying stop signs in residential neighbourhoods whereby, where agreed upon, stop sign posts would have an additional sign below it in the colour and shape of a Yield sign but instead of the words "Yield", it would have a bicycle on it indicating that at this intersection, cyclists may yield instead of stop where it is safe to do so.
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Old 10-27-14, 07:29 AM
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What problem is this meant to fix? If it is law breaking by cyclists, then change the law. Otherwise, it is confusing. Should cars yield to bikes, or should bikes yield to cars?
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Old 10-27-14, 07:48 AM
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The discussion was around proposing to our government to change the law and then, use these signs to indicate to both cyclists and "cars" that cyclists may choose to yield if it is safe to do so. It would also make people aware that an accommodation for cyclists is available and perhaps encourage others to cycle just like bike lanes may encourage others to cycle because the lanes are an accommodation for cyclists.

Yes, there may be some initial confusion but, as I see it, signs and laws have changed many times in the last 50 years yet neither my father and father-in-law, who have been driving for at least 50 years since obtaining their driving licence, have taken a driving course since then and have had to learn about changes to driving laws through their children, grandchildren, friends, newspapers, etc, none of which are official sources. Albeit, this is a bit off topic, but I see this as a problem with the driving licence system and I believe that licence renewal fees (perhaps changed to every 5 yrs) should include a required written test so that changes to the law may be promoted.

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Old 10-27-14, 08:20 AM
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Originally Posted by jrickards View Post
The discussion was around proposing to our government to change the law and then, use these signs to indicate to both cyclists and "cars" that cyclists may choose to yield if it is safe to do so. It would also make people aware that an accommodation for cyclists is available and perhaps encourage others to cycle just like bike lanes may encourage others to cycle because the lanes are an accommodation for cyclists.

Yes, there may be some initial confusion but, as I see it, signs and laws have changed many times in the last 50 years yet neither my father and father-in-law, who have been driving for at least 50 years since obtaining their driving licence, have taken a driving course since then and have had to learn about changes to driving laws through their children, grandchildren, friends, newspapers, etc, none of which are official sources. Albeit, this is a bit off topic, but I see this as a problem with the driving licence system and I believe that licence renewal fees (perhaps changed to every 5 yrs) should include a required written test so that changes to the law may be promoted.
You didn't really answer my question. What is the problem you are trying to address? Not enough bike riders out there and somehow this will encourage more? Bike riders running stop signs? Dangerous intersections? Unless you identify the problem, I'm unclear whether your solution is necessary or appropriate.
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Old 10-27-14, 08:29 AM
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This change will simply allow bikers to run stop signs whenever they want. You cannot have ambiguity in a law such as this. When is it "safe" to yield?
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Old 10-27-14, 08:37 AM
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Sorry, I thought I had and maybe this won't either.

My friend and I like the idea that the Idaho stop law allows (for all intents and purposes) for an easier flow of cycling because cyclists may not need (to legally) come to a full stop at every intersection. We are not alone in liking the idea of cycling continuously from home to work (and back again) which is why many bike commuters like MUPs: we don't have any MUPs on our routes so, for all intents and purposes, we have to stop-and-go at the many intersections we encounter. If the Idaho stop law was enacted in our city/province, this could improve our commutes and cycling in general. Furthermore, should the law be changed, to "announce" the option for cyclists of yielding at stop signs so that cyclists may know that the option is there and that car drivers can understand why the cyclist ahead of them didn't come to a full stop, this sign could explain why it happened (and that it is allowed in law).

My friend and I also recognize that some stop-sign intersections are in place to set rights of way but, in some residential communities, in addition to speed bumps, some 3-way intersections have 3-way stop signs to slow traffic speed and thereby reduce noise (locally, we call them traffic-calmed neighbourhoods), neither which could apply to bicycles. Giving cyclists the right to treat stop-signs, whose purpose is to "enforce" traffic calming, as yield signs enables the community to maintain its need for traffic calming and at the same time, allowing already calmed traffic (bikes) the right to pass through unhindered.
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Old 10-27-14, 08:40 AM
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Originally Posted by corrado33 View Post
You cannot have ambiguity in a law such as this. When is it "safe" to yield?
As I understand it from my vantage point in NYS, there is no ambiguity to the Idaho stop law.

The law permits cyclists to treat a stop sign as a yield WHEN NO OTHER VEHICLES ARE PRESENT.

When other vehicles ARE present, the cyclist MUST stop.

It is a misunderstanding to think it permits cyclists to blow the stop sign all the time.

Actual practice may differ, but the scofflaws will always be scofflaws, and they're probably blowing the stop signs right now anyway.

Look! There goes one now! Why the birty dastard.
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Old 10-27-14, 08:43 AM
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Originally Posted by corrado33 View Post
This change will simply allow bikers to run stop signs whenever they want. You cannot have ambiguity in a law such as this. When is it "safe" to yield?
In driving training, we are taught how to properly yield when there is a yield sign at an intersection, the same rules would apply so there should be no ambiguity. If a car drives through a "normal" yield sign and causes an accident, then the law would put the blame on the person who didn't "follow the rules of yielding" properly. If a cyclist was given an option to treat a stop sign as a yield sign but just blew through it and caused an accident, the cyclist would be held accountable. I'm sure that Idaho has considered this, I was just "adding" to it by suggesting that a modified yield sign be put at stop-sign intersections where the powers-that-be have decided that this intersection is safe enough to allow cyclists to consider the yield option when it is safe to do so.
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Old 10-27-14, 09:38 AM
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scroca
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As the old song went,

"Sign, sign, everywhere a sign
Blockin' out the scenery, breakin' my mind
Do this, don't do that, can't you read the sign?"
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Old 10-27-14, 10:26 AM
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Originally Posted by alan s View Post
What problem is this meant to fix? If it is law breaking by cyclists, then change the law. Otherwise, it is confusing. Should cars yield to bikes, or should bikes yield to cars?
I think it is safe to say that if you do not see the problem then it doesn't really matter. Don't worry your pretty little head about it. For those who have some inkling of the physics involved in constantly coming to a full stop and accellerating back to a cruising speed and the effect that this has on elapsed time and the relevance this might have to a cyclist that calls themselves a commuter cyclist, I will try to explain the situation in brief, to wit: a stop sign establishes the priority of a particular route. Many roads have frequent intersections but are nonetheless "higher priority". Intersections will have stop signs preventing cross traffic from impeding progress down the main road. Cyclists usually avoid these main roads and travel on the lower priority streets that may actually have a stop sign at every other corner. Maybe even every corner. So you have to either HTFU and ride in 45mph traffic OR come to a full, both feet down stop ever 200 feet. Some choice.

I am well aware of the culture of perversity and martyrdom that pervades cycling. Some will love the added time out there communing with what is left of Mother Nature in the urban blighted towns and hamlets that commuter cyclists frequently inhabit. Standard yield signs do not appear to cause any confusion. Why should and automatic "yield" condition not be understood to prevail at every stop sign when the vehicle approaching it is a bicycle??

I'll let you in on a little secret. Idaho stops are how a large minority of cyclists already treat stop signs even if they live and ride in Davis, CA.

H

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Old 10-27-14, 10:30 AM
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Originally Posted by Leisesturm View Post
a large minority of cyclists

H
you mean majority, right?
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Old 10-27-14, 10:35 AM
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Originally Posted by cobrabyte View Post
you mean majority, right?
I wish I did. Its a close thing around here, but I see way too many goody-two shoes, letter of the law types in town. It's probably 50/50 but I erred on the side of civic obedience.
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Old 10-27-14, 10:48 AM
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I hear ya. Some rules make sense, others are just silly. I like to think I'm capable of deciding when it's ok to break a rule or two safely.
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Old 10-27-14, 10:59 AM
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Originally Posted by Leisesturm View Post
I wish I did. Its a close thing around here, but I see way too many goody-two shoes, letter of the law types in town. It's probably 50/50 but I erred on the side of civic obedience.
What's wrong with people doing what they're comfortable with?
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Old 10-27-14, 11:12 AM
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Originally Posted by kickstart View Post
What's wrong with people doing what they're comfortable with?
What some of us are comfortable with (treating stop signs as yield signs, treating red lights as stop signs) are (1) technically against the law and (2) raise the ire of motorists who then have further reason to "hate" us. I am more concerned about (2) than (1) because I see the police less frequently than I do "normal" motorists.
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Old 10-27-14, 11:14 AM
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The whole "yield if there's no traffic, stop if there is" discussion is kind of missing the point of a yield sign. If there's no traffic, there's nobody to yield to. If there is traffic, you yield - this may or may not require you to actually stop.

In Europe, almost every intersection without a traffic light or roundabout uses yield signs (applying to both cars and bikes). If an intersection is safe to roll through, why not apply the rule to everybody?
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Old 10-27-14, 11:18 AM
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Originally Posted by Leisesturm View Post
I think it is safe to say that if you do not see the problem then it doesn't really matter. Don't worry your pretty little head about it. For those who have some inkling of the physics involved in constantly coming to a full stop and accellerating back to a cruising speed and the effect that this has on elapsed time and the relevance this might have to a cyclist that calls themselves a commuter cyclist, I will try to explain the situation in brief, to wit: a stop sign establishes the priority of a particular route. Many roads have frequent intersections but are nonetheless "higher priority". Intersections will have stop signs preventing cross traffic from impeding progress down the main road. Cyclists usually avoid these main roads and travel on the lower priority streets that may actually have a stop sign at every other corner. Maybe even every corner. So you have to either HTFU and ride in 45mph traffic OR come to a full, both feet down stop ever 200 feet. Some choice.

I am well aware of the culture of perversity and martyrdom that pervades cycling. Some will love the added time out there communing with what is left of Mother Nature in the urban blighted towns and hamlets that commuter cyclists frequently inhabit. Standard yield signs do not appear to cause any confusion. Why should and automatic "yield" condition not be understood to prevail at every stop sign when the vehicle approaching it is a bicycle??

I'll let you in on a little secret. Idaho stops are how a large minority of cyclists already treat stop signs even if they live and ride in Davis, CA.

H
So I take it you are in favor of triangular yield signs, with a depiction of a bike, being placed on stop signs? Wouldn't it be easier, cheaper and more effective just to pass a law saying it's OK to roll through on a bike if there are no cars present (which is pretty much what the vast majority of bike riders do anyway)? Do we really need a nanny sign at each corner telling bike riders what to do?
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Old 10-27-14, 11:51 AM
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Stop signs at every single intersection is stupid, especially for someone on a bike when there is obviously no one else around.

I do all I can to not have to put a foot down, if it's not an actual red light.
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Old 10-27-14, 11:55 AM
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Hmm, I already do this. To be fair though, I only have 2 or 3 stop signs once I am out of my subdivision, and only one of them happens to be a 4 way intersection. The others I have to go slow enough to see around the corner before going. The 4 way, I can see if anyone is coming a good ways off.
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Old 10-27-14, 12:00 PM
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I never blatantly blow through stop signs. I always brake and check to make sure that there is no one else around. But even with other cars, I still usually do a "slow roll" especially if it's a multi-lane stop sign and the car next to me is going.
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Old 10-27-14, 12:43 PM
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Originally Posted by alan s View Post
So I take it you are in favor of triangular yield signs, with a depiction of a bike, being placed on stop signs? Wouldn't it be easier, cheaper and more effective just to pass a law saying it's OK to roll through on a bike if there are no cars present (which is pretty much what the vast majority of bike riders do anyway)? Do we really need a nanny sign at each corner telling bike riders what to do?
What part of:

Originally Posted by Leisesturm View Post
Standard yield signs do not appear to cause any confusion. Why should an automatic "yield" condition not be understood to prevail at every stop sign when the vehicle approaching it is a bicycle??
indicates that I am in favor of "nanny signing" every intersection? But, if this was your position, it wasn't clear from your earlier posts and I don't think I am the only one who thinks that you were one of those who think bicycles should slavishly obey motor vehicle statutes.

H
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Old 10-27-14, 12:48 PM
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People have a hard enough time stopping at stops & reds. I say enforce the stops and reds & if a yield seems more practical, THEN look into it. You could even have times of day when you're not allowed to, such as right turn on red does in many places.

- Andy
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Old 10-27-14, 12:55 PM
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Originally Posted by jrickards View Post
What some of us are comfortable with (treating stop signs as yield signs, treating red lights as stop signs) are (1) technically against the law and (2) raise the ire of motorists who then have further reason to "hate" us. I am more concerned about (2) than (1) because I see the police less frequently than I do "normal" motorists.
This! Exactly this. The vehiclecentric culture that prevails in the U.S. empowers drivers to act out against cyclists that don't play by the stupid rules that have been set forth for them in Operators Manuals in all 50 states, Idaho included. Drivers know that to consider a 200lb bike and rider with 1/10 horsepower in any way equivalent to a 4,000lb sedan with 125 horsepower is ridiculous. But since they are on the power side of that comparison they are in the position of having the shotgun and cyclists are the fish in the barrel. There are intersections where you take your life in your hands making a proper left turn. Any car behind you seeing you signal left will immediately hit the gas and the horn sending you fleeing for the safety of the right-hand gutter. Well not any car, this is Portland, but more than a few (maybe they are from the East Coast) will. So bikes are not equal to cars in the minds of drivers. Why do they get upset then when they are idling at a red signal and a bike rolls through? Jealousy. Pure and simple. I refuse to be coerced into appeasing the petty jealousies of the car driving public. They can get bicycles if they want to habitually run red lights without risking a jail sentence.

H
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Old 10-27-14, 01:04 PM
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Originally Posted by Leisesturm View Post
But, if this was your position, it wasn't clear from your earlier posts and I don't think I am the only one who thinks that you were one of those who think bicycles should slavishly obey motor vehicle statutes.

H
I didn't take a position. I was wondering, since the OP raised the issue, exactly what he or she was concerned about. Personally, I'm in favor of maintaining the status quo (police looking the other way, generally) or a law that would require bikes to stop at stop signs only if there is a car or ped at the intersection. Even with such a law, behavior would probably not change at all, but at least there would be less to complain about.
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Old 10-27-14, 01:06 PM
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Originally Posted by TransitBiker View Post
People have a hard enough time stopping at stops & reds. I say enforce the stops and reds & if a yield seems more practical, THEN look into it. You could even have times of day when you're not allowed to, such as right turn on red does in many places.

- Andy
A cyclist friend of mine was stopped and given a warning for making a "wide left turn". IOW he made his left into the right hand lane of the new road. Like nearly every cyclist on the planet does because who the hell wants to be in the left hand lane of a busy road with no way to get over to the right! That is courting death because you are going to infuriate every driver behind you and they are NOT going to let you get over. The driver behind you in the left lane will be on your bumper blasting the horn, flashing his lights. And you should do this every time you make a left turn into a two lane? Yes, that's what cars have to do and you are a car, don't you know. So... Andy... tell me. Do you make your left turns like that? If not, why not? And if you use common sense and good judgement in that part of your roadcraft why not with stop signals as well?

Why should there be any more enforcement of stop signs than there is? So you can feel vindicated? It isn't about you. You have your lapses of protocol, it just doesn't happen to be stop signs. Goody for you. Live and let live.
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