« Greater Lyttonsville Monday Matters Meeting Series | Main | The DC area has set "a record" for safety »


Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.

A certain percentage of cyclists today fail to yield if they believe, with their momentum, they can beat cross traffic through an intersection.

If the Idaho Stop law is enacted would we expect the number of cyclists failing to yield to increase, stay the same, or decrease?

I don't have any experience living someplace that had put the Idaho law into effect but when I commuted through the upper NW residential neighborhoods it was pretty much the defacto standard for cyclists AND cars.

I only had 2 problems with it. During the winter/at night I noticed that cars were failing to see me and thus failing to yield to me at 4-way stops. I solved that problem by mounting monkey lights on my wheels.

The other problem was the few intersections that were just 2-way stops where the direction I was going had no stop. Too many cars were completely blowing the stops there so I learned to treat every intersection as a 4-way.

I think its better (with rare exceptions) to legalize what we expect people to do, rather than wink at it. Winking breeds disrespect for law, and I suspect leads to more actually unsafe behavior then legalizing Idaho stops would. I see no evidence that Idaho stops are a gateway drug.

Also it would remove most of the 'scofflaw cyclist' meme.

So if we expect drivers to speed, should we legalize it? Not that I am against the Idaho stop, just think the logic needs some work.

So if we expect drivers to speed, should we legalize it?

No, but we shouldn't wink at it either. I think if the choices are wink or legalize, then yes, legalize. Which is what ACITS is saying.

Currently the majority of drivers treat stops signs and right turn on red as yield signs or Idaho stops.

The question is do any rules of the road actually matter anymore? The only two I see followed by drivers is: drive on the right side of the road & stop at red lights when traveling straight or making a left turn.

(note: This is outside of DC in the suburbs and rural areas. I rarely go into DC so I am unaware of the situation there)

Jeez, Ben Adler, where in the Idaho law does it say that cyclists are free to mow down pedestrians?

The only real public-safety argument against the Idaho stop is that if you give people an inch, they'll take a mile. And they will. That's why car laws are zero-tolerance, even in the face of common sense (running a red light or stop sign at 4 a.m. in an empty town in a car won't hurt anyone any more than an Idaho-stopping cyclist would, but a miscalculation is far more dangerous in a car). Cyclists already blow through red lights, and the idea of giving them some semblance of a legal excuse for doing so does give me pause.

But applying the same car laws with zero tolerance to cyclists only opens the door for abusive, selective and discriminatory enforcement. A Park Police officer who hates the speeding pelotons can choose to ignore a scofflaw pickup-truck driver but ticket a Bikeshare rider doing 4 mph past a stop sign rendered irrelevant by closed roads. And for a cyclist, stopping at a stop sign can be more dangerous than running one. My goal on a bike is to steer clear of cars/pedestrians/other bikes as safely as possible, if at all possible, at all times. Sometimes that means running a red light (the coast is clear but it's about to be not-clear); sometimes it means sitting at one like an idiot for five minutes while scofflaws shoal past me (maybe the intersection's visibility isn't to my liking).

It's a shame the law can't be "Don't be an idiot." It's a shame enforcement can't look at each situation individually. Bicycle safety is more complicated than "Is there an octagonal red sign?" and "Was the light red?"

The big problem with the "wink at it" idea is that police can, at any time and without warning, change the wink to a citation.

@Joe: here in DC,stop signs are pretty much optional on side streets,as are speed limits. We also have the DC Stop. That's where a car stops at a sign,then when it's clear and it pulls out,the car behind follows it through. We also have the Left Turn Conga. That's where the first vehicle in line to make a left pulls half way into the intersection. Then when the light turns red,it makes its turn(if it didn't,it would block the intersection),followed by 1,2,and sometimes even 3 of the vehicles in line behind it. It's also ok for Metro buses to go through red lights when pulling out from a corner bus stop,and for drivers to make lefts on red in Georgetown.

We should have a tiered system wherein the fine for running stop signs/failure to yield is based on gross vehicle weight. Make it $20 for cyclists and a couple hundred or more for heavy trucks.

That's kind of what we have in DC. I think the fine is $25, no points.

If we're going to add proportionality to stop sign fines, they should be proportional to the punishments for killing a cyclist. What's the equivalency between stops signs and killed cyclists? 5 stop signs? 10? 100? 1000? Right now it's about 5-10 depending on the jurisdiction and the leniency of a judge. And that's a big part of why the traffic regulation paradigm is broken beyond repair.

I'll settle for the police ticketing anyone riding a bike on the sidewalk -- especially when there's a bike lane.

As a pedestrian on a cane, I've had cyclists yell at me as they're barreling through when I'm in a crosswalk. I don't think making it legal for them to run the signs/lights will improve my situation or those of my fellow pedestrians at all.

By the way, I also firmly believe that as pedestrians, we should not step into the street until we have a walk light where those are provided. That's our side of the traffic social contract.

I disagree with Ben Adler, and completely support Idaho stops being legal for cyclists, but to be fair: both of the articles you linked to in the cyclist-pedestrian death example are cases of cyclists running into pedestrians (not pedestrians running into cyclists) and in one of them it says the cyclist was going against the light.

Well, i think you'd have to try hard to actually hit a cyclist if you were on foot. But I think stepping in front of a cyclist is the same as running into them. Besides, the point is that ped errors can result in collisions where cyclists die (and almost surely have).

Worst accident I've ever been in was when I was downhill on Florida Avenue, at speed and with the green, when a pedestrian stepped right off the curb, against the light and in front of me without looking to her left. My bike cartwheeled and I flew forward over the handlebars. How both of us walked away was a miracle.

The comments to this entry are closed.

Banner design by creativecouchdesigns.com

City Paper's Best Local Bike Blog 2009


 Subscribe in a reader