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I figure that Townsend isn't opposing Idaho Stop so much for the technical reasons (I don't think he's a technical expert in anything), but rather to do what usually does which is fan the culture war flames in the sense of "war on cars"*. Hence, anything pro-cyclist is inherently anti-AAA's constituency.

*In the latest "war on cars" battle, the prosecutor in Virginia failed to press charges when an old woman ran a red light and hit a biker, sending him to the hospital with serious injuries. (http://patch.com/virginia/oldtownalexandria/no-charges-serious-bicycle-wreck-alexandria-0)

This is the mysteriously new version of the bill that went to markup, with one other, last week. That hearing was pushed back four hours, but even after that the order of business was arranged to address the bike/ped safety act last in order to print a copy for chairwoman Cheh to actually read in.

What was read and passed (with no dissent and little discussion) was a combination of the recommendations that made it through the working group and some hastily drawn legislation in support of DDOT's emergency rulemaking around Vision Zero.

I really have to wonder why this was not proposed as (at least) two separate bills?

(I have a couple of theories, but they both make me uncomfortable.)

Glass half full. The bill will protect cyclists better, should reform the way we police collisions, and should increase biking.

I suppose I shouldn't be disappointed, Idaho stop makes too much sense to become law. I still don't see why the police opposed it though, most of them already allow Idaho stop already. In an era where evidenced-based policing is hip, making an argument without evidence doesn't make much sense but again, not surprised. Maybe we should stage a "stop in" like at San Francisco's wiggle.

Police cyclists themselves practice the Idaho stop. Just about anyone who has ever cycled has done it. So all we need to do is simply get 100% of the population on bikes and then we'll be good.

Do you know if the bill still includes higher fines for cars blocked in bike lanes? As I recall the proposal raised fines to $200 for private vehicles and $300 for commercial vehicles.

Currently it's $65 right now for both categories of vehicle and that's clearly not enough of a deterrent -- delivery truck drivers parked on 11th have flat out told me they don't care about tickets because their company will just pay for them. Recently I saw a truck, parked in the 11th street bike lane downtown, with two different parking tickets on the windshield, both from earlier that day. So it wasn't stopping the driver at all.

Anyway I hope these provisions are still in the bill. If anyone can confirm that I would love to hear about it.

DE, believe me, that point was made to MPD, but it didn't change their opinion at all. In fact it was a classic case of an opinion remaing the same even in the face of new information or corrected facts.

"I believe A because x=5"

"Actually x=-10. See?"

"So it does, but I still believe A."

Good catch ezradf, the increase in fines for blocking bike lanes is no longer included. I'm working on a complete comparison.

I hate to say I told you so.

What am I talking about? I don't hate to say it at all. The bill is far better for this omission, which was politically tone-deaf and unwarranted as a safety measure.

"His argument was, then, that the law shouldn't change because it's safer when everyone follows the law."

1) It seems fairly clear people passing laws for people who cycle, should also have some practical experience cycling.

2) Please get back to us if the AAA rep gives the methodology for his study. This was the only evidence against the Idaho Stop law.

Thanks for covering this.

I agree with Crickey. Most motorists think that the Idaho stop is "special rights." I think we should focus on getting the rights we already have protected and enforced (e.g. not getting run over, assaults by cars taken seriously). In parallel, facilities that make it safer. Idaho stop should be a stand alone issue, later

Maybe a bit tone deaf, sure. But it's what almost all cyclists do and will continue to do anyway. When laws don't reflect reality, they aren't respected and are ignored more easily. But as a separate bill later, fine, whatevs. I and everyone else will just continue doing what we do anyway. As long as it's not enforced much so it doesn't impede the growth of cycling, thereby putting more cars on the road and adding to the gridlock and pollution. [For what it's worth, if police are present, I usually come to a full stop (track stand at least)--no use asking for trouble.]

We all agree to let people do whatever it is they're doing, and not rock the boat. There are bigger fish to fry, like the contributory negligence standard.

I don't like having to break the law when I Idaho. I want to be predictable, alert, and lawful, and laws that make it impossible to be lawful when doing what 90% of cyclists do, are laws that should be changed. I have little doubt that the movement to legalize Idaho will move forward in some fashion. Maybe elsewhere in the US first, maybe by designating certain stop signs instead of doing it jurisdiction wide.

Ugh, really disappointed to hear the higher fines were taken out. I can't possibly imagine what the reasoning for that would be. The vehicles involved are parked illegally and dangerously, and it would bring in more revenue for the city (or reduce the dangerous parking, or some mix).

Is there any way to find out which member of the council was responsible for that change?

I would caution against people in cycling advocacy sites making blanket statements--guesses, really--about what percentage of cyclists are breaking the law. It's not okay when it's done to us for pejorative purposes, and it's not okay when it's done for self-serving purposes.

The pejorative is not that 90% of cyclists sometimes do an Idaho stop - its the claims that most are reckless, "blow through reds" etc. Just as it is not pejorative to state that 90% of drivers go at least one mile per hour over the speed limit, on occasion. And if we are getting "credit" in public discussions based on the idea that any significant number of regular, adult cyclists come to complete stops at all stop signs, everywhere and always A. I am not seeing that and B. It is based on a falsehood, and is not sustainable.

And of course it is not possible to discuss the damage of making a routine behavior illegal, if one is not allowed to discuss how routine the behavior actually is. Would we see reform in marijuana laws if people did not know how common use of marijuana was?

So I was a little wrong about the higher fines. I think those fines are in the Vision Zero regs, which came out of DDOT and are still there.

What was removed from the bill was increased fines for repeat offenders - like UPS.

There are, in fact, studies that have suggested the percentage of people who follow certain patterns at intersections.

Here is one such study:


We need a convergence of evidence over several similar studies, as with any research, but Looking at bicyclist behavior in different type of situations as this study did, is much more important than blanket saying "everyone runs all intersections." Given decent infrastructure, the evidence is that people tend to follow the law.

Of course. I would say that if one is going to make a prescriptive statement about how, for example, traffic laws ought to be, then good data is pretty much essential.

So you want a study of how many cyclists treat stop signs as yield signs before DC addresses the Idaho stop again? Eh, okay. Though I would note that will depend on how you design the study. Far more cyclists stop at stops signs where and when there is cross traffic, pedestrians, etc, than at empty intersections (where the non lawfulness of Idahoing is most annoying).

I stand by my belief, based on personal observation and discussions with cyclists, that less than 10% of all adult cyclists do not at least occasionally proceed through a stop sign without coming to a complete stop (and no, riding at 3MPH is not a complete stop)

Although that suggests a compromise - since driving less than 10MPH is not "speeding" how about riding at less than 10MPH counts as "stopping"? ;)

I would say that if one is going to make a prescriptive statement about how, for example, traffic laws ought to be, then good data is pretty much essential.

Luckily we have data, in the form of Idaho, where the data shows it has made cyclists no less safe, and possibly more safe.

The percentage of cyclists who occassionally Idaho is irrelevant.

The lone study, written in 2010 by Jason Meggs, then a researcher at the UC Berkeley School of Public Health, found a 14.5 percent drop in bicycle injury collisions the year after the law took effect and no change in fatalities.

Simply put, that's too thin a reed for a major change in longstanding traffic control laws. You're rolling the dice with people's lives based on a single study of limited applicability. Nor are injuries and fatalities the only metric by which we gauge our traffic laws. And, finally, the end result was predictable for the simple reason that no cyclist has advanced a persuasive argument for why cyclists ought to be treated differently in this respect from other road users.

I'm all for having the Idaho stop be a legal option for cyclists. It would be one less legal reason MPD could harass them such as when DC had a registration law. With negligence laws, anything short of a full stop could be a reason for an insurance claim to be denied.

There are now three studies. Meggs, Whyte and Silva. There's also the word of every DOT and Police official in Idaho as well as those in Aspen and other Colorado towns who have done this.

It's not a major change. It's tiny.

no cyclist has advanced a persuasive argument for why cyclists ought to be treated differently in this respect from other road users.

Two studies of the Idaho stop show that it is measurably safer. One study showed that it resulted in 14% fewer crashes and another indicated that Idaho has less severe crashes. Similarly, tests of a modified form of the Idaho Stop in Paris "found that allowing the cyclists to move more freely cut down the chances of collisions with cars, including accidents involving the car's blind spot." And, less definitively, a study of rolling stops in Seattle determined that "these results support the theoretical assertion that bicyclists are capable of making safe decisions regarding rolling stop." In addition, changing the legal duties of cyclists provides direction to law enforcement to focus attention where it belongs—on unsafe cyclists (and motorists). Furthermore bicycle laws should be designed to allow cyclists to travel swiftly and easily, the Idaho stop provision allows for the conservation of energy.

It has persuaded many people, but some legislators oppose it anyway - because politics.

Then we should wait until we have more data, better studies. A one year drop is not how real studies draw conclusions. As to the conservation of energy point, again, that is not a reason to treat cyclists differently from other road users, who have the exact same goal here.

"Then we should wait until we have more data, better studies."

We will have better data when Stop as Yield is legal in more places.

"no cyclist has advanced a persuasive argument for why cyclists ought to be treated differently in this respect from other road users"

Cyclists are safer when they don't compete for space on the roads with cars and trucks. ANYTHING we can do to minimize interaction with motor vehicles can literally save our lives.

Good enough for me.

That's such a strange argument to make, that we shouldn't do it because we don't have much data, and we don't have much data because we don't do it.

The data that are there support doing more of it. But it needs to be shown to work in a large U.S city. I would love for DC to be the leader here, but our politicians are followers, not leaders. I guess it will take NYC or San Francisco showing the way. (SF passed it but the mayor vetoed it, but eventually someone with a spine will do it and we'll get the data and see that the world didn't end.)

The burden of proof rests on those advocating a change. It's hardly a radical position that we should not make a significant change in traffic laws that could negatively impact safety without some proof that it would not do so. I'd be pretty shocked if they didn't have such a requirement, formalized or not.

It's not a courtroom, it's a legislative process. There is absolutely no burden of proof.

It's hardly a radical position that we should not make a significant change in traffic laws that could negatively impact safety without some proof that it would not do so.

It is in fact a radical position. Proof is a very high standard. How exactly would we prove it. It's impossible really. It might remain so even after the fact. And it's not a standard I've ever heard you set for any other change. Not for 3 feet when passing, nor for anti-dooring legislation, cyclists and pedestrians go on PLI, distracted driving laws, etc... This is the only issue for which you set an impossibly high standard. One which if followed every where would mean that no innovation was possible.

You can't try it until you prove it won't harm anyone, but you can't prove it won't hard anyone until you try it.

Idaho 22 has someone said.

But luckily this is legislative process and all we need to do is have a majority of legislators think that it is likely to make things safer - or at least no less - safe. So proof is not necessary. Not unless someone can show me where such proof is requried according to DC law.

It's a legislative political process. Which is why optics matter, and burden of proof is real. Of course, you don't need to take my word on it. What the Council did here proves my point.

Which is why optics matter, and burden of proof is real. Of course, you don't need to take my word on it. What the Council did here proves my point.

Only if you can explain why the Council changeed the bill. Which I doubt you can.

I mean if proof led to laws we'd have climate change legislation wouldn't we?

I think I'm pretty safe in predicting we won't see it pass any time soon.

perhaps, but it won't be because of a lack of proof.

We will see it pass when some forward-thinking city passes it and it works. Like bike lanes, once they're seen to be working, other cities will follow, and we will be one of those. Our politicians are followers.

Crickey, I disagree, but I do understand your point that optics matter.

If it's sold as a bill to "allow bikes to ignore stop signs and lights," it loses.

The exceptions need to lead or be included so that it's known more as "allow bikes to safely proceed through empty intersections."

I would just caution cyclists that as far as this issue goes, there's a danger of being in a cyclist echo chamber. You may convince yourself of the rightness of your cause, but it's not one shared--really, at all--outside cyclist circles.

Cyclists blowing through intersections needs to be enforced. It is dangerous, discourteous, and looks bad too. But too often what the police to is cite some poor schmo who stopped for all intents and purposes--yielded the right-of-way but didn't put his foot down and sit around for a few second for no purpose. That's clown-enforcing and counterproductive, leading to making everyone a lawbreaker. Enforce what's important, and allow what's safe: the Idaho stop.

If you're concern is some sort of tone-deafness, then draw that distinction in your posts at Wapo etc.: we want the law enforced for all users, but not petty enforcement of things that don't matter. Enforce what causes a dangerous situation, not little petty differences in grade between a complete stop and an Idaho stop. It's like pulling a motorist over for almost stopping (a rolling stop) and letting everyone else blow through red lights unpunsished, like happens in downtown during most light cycles as they change.

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