« Downtown West Transportation Study recommends protected bike lanes on Pennsylvania Ave NW | Main | Oh, Bell No! »


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

I'll reserve comment on the Idaho Stop portions of the law, but the rest sounds really good. As an aside, cycling deaths in Delaware spiked this year (though the absolute number is still relatively small).

I'm impressed that they have such a strongly positive momentum for cyclists after the Gov's personal private security detail tried to intimidate a cyclist for reporting him for parking in the L St Bike Lane. Surprised and Impressed.

What great news for my next trip to Wilmington!

See why it might be a good idea to get police on your side rather than flaunting the rules they enforce every chance you get.

People in Delaware were previously flaunting the laws at every chance they get. If you read the article, that's how the law got changed (also true in Idaho).

But yes, it would be nice to get the police on our side. Unfortunately, MPD was completely unwilling to listen to anyone. I even gave the MPD rep the phone number of a Sheriff in Colorado where the Idaho stop is legal so that he could talk to them. Later that rep told me he did but wasn't convinced. When I called the Sheriff, he told me that the rep never called. :(

Some people have inflexible minds, what can you do but wait for better people to come along.

I think my past remarks on the Idaho Stop have been as logical and well-argued as the proponents'. I have valid points, and I'm willing to concede you have valid points, even if on balance I believe mine outweigh yours. It's not a matter of flexibility.

Maybe, but MPD's were not. As I recall their arguments were

1. Most places have not adopted this
2. We just think it's less safe
3. Boise is not DC

None of these are winning arguments.

Reading between the lines, they say: the burden is on you to prove that exempting a class of vehicles from a safety-oriented law is safe, and you haven't done that. That's a perfectly valid argument.

As I've always told my uncle at the Delaware DOT, the 3-foot law is meant not to be enforced, but to be used as prima facie evidence that the overtaking driver who hits me is 100% at fault. My estate will appreciate the legal advantage in the damages suit.

Does reading between the lines now count as taking a position? Is that what stands up in court these days?

I'm sorry, but I was there and you were not. They were not making any such case. They never asked "So what is the argument for this? Has this been studied, tested, etc...?" Their kneejerk reaction was No, and at one point one of them said "There's just nothing you can say that can convince me." So does that sound like someone who just feels the burden of proof has not been met?

And let's just go back to the point that the opinion of the police should not really matter here. How did that even happen? They're not safety experts. FFS, they're not even safe drivers (http://www.cnn.com/2016/07/29/politics/police-traffic-deaths-national-law-enforcement-officers-memorial-fund/index.html), and lets not get into police officers and gun safety. So, I just don't accept their expertise here. Their job is to enforce the law, not to study the impact of laws and how they do or do not improve safety. If it's a question of enforcement, then I'll take their expertise. But not on safety. Might as well ask a hospital admissions director how to improve public health.

Maybe if there were actual valid data that could be shown, you might have a point. What little research has been done would not convince most safety experts: why should the police be any better?

Why "read between the lines" at all? If you think someone needs to do more to prove something then say something.

And yeah, with plenty of evidence that most MPD officers have no idea what the current laws are when it comes to cycling I don't know why they are the arbiters.

(I have yet to see a bicycle cop actually ride in the street instead of the sidewalk around downtown DC).

And if I say I'm reading between the lines, isn't that me being honest about what I'm doing? I should be extra double dinged? Really?

Actually, most safety experts agree that the Idaho stop is a good rule. It's only the police in places and AAA that keep it from being executed. Talk to any DOT engineer or planner about it - not just DC - and they'll tell you that they think it's a better law. And rare is the DDOT employee who doesn't support it.

I'm not accusing you of being dishonest, I'm accusing you of being too generous. It's like when a politician says something stupid and their spokesperson says "When the congressman called them 'motherfuckers' he was just trying to say that we should all love and respect our moms."

Cops are cops. If you tell them you want a law that says cyclists, who they already are half convinced are all pot dealers, want a special law all for themselves that allows them to thumb their noses at traffic control devices, your ducks better not just be lined up, but trained to quack Yankee Doodle Dandy.

Not you reading between the lines. I'm saying if the cops have a "real" argument that wasn't in the three points listed earlier then why not just state it?

"If you tell them you want a law that says cyclists, who they already are half convinced are all pot dealers, want a special law all for themselves that allows them to thumb their noses at traffic control devices, your ducks better not just be lined up, but trained to quack Yankee Doodle Dandy."

I'd simply tell the cop, that's not what the law does at all. Then we could talk about what the actual proposal is.

When I Delaware a stop sign, I do not thumb my node at it. I use it as a reminder to slow down, look carefully, and proceed cautiously. IF there is cross traffic, I yield to it. It is,quite possible to Delaware politely.

...and there was much rejoicing.

re data. Now there is one more place where we can do studies on safety impact. Those who claim that more data is needed should be particularly pleased.

More data is always good. Though the basic premise of Idaho Stop is that cyclists are such a low percent of the modal share that we essentially have no effect on overall flow.

Not just overall flow, but safety. If accidents go up or down, that's useful to know, although with the sample size and many variables, it's just one more bit of the puzzle.

I would expect that the accident rate won't change much due to this since 90% of cyclists do it already anyway, but my *hope* is that more cyclists will start yielding the right-of-way as Idaho/Delaware becomes more prevalent, and that could lead to better safety and better relations with noncyclists.

My thinking here is that when people are expected to follow a ridiculous rule, they don't, and not only do they not follow that one, they then devalue all the rules. However, if the rules make sense, more people will follow them.

I think people know the rule, and they don't think it's ridiculous. They just choose not to follow it. I don't see that changing.

I'm highly confident that in a poll of cyclists, the vast majority would think that the rule requiring cyclists to come to a full stop at a stop sign when clearly no one is coming is ridiculous.

We can use another word if you want; maybe "unrealistic" would be better.

Rules for rules' sake are ridiculous in my book, but not everyone will agree. However, focusing enforcement on strict adherence rather than on unsafe behavior isn't helpful. If a driver goes 1 mph over the speed limit, that driver is rarely ticketed. If a cyclist slows and yields the right-of-way but does not completely stop, that should be fine. What would be the use of ticketing someone for obeying the spirit of the law but violating it on a technicality? Really only revenue generation.

We have bright lien rules because (a) tailoring rules to a thousand situations is unrealistic and (b) we choose when and when not to vest discretion in vehicle operators. I think most people understand that. They choose to exercise a no-harm-no-foul approach to adherence with the law, without making a value judgment about the wisdom of the law. I would say that's what drivers do about speeding.

I look forward to the argument against expanding this law to be, "But our town isn't Boise Wilmington."

Delaware has a cycling modal share ranked 31st in the nation in 2013, below Nevada and above Kansas.

But Delaware's population density is 6th in the nation, so this is interesting from the point of view of negating the "what works in Idaho won't work in urban areas" argument.

This is a terrific development.

With respect to this debate, bear in mind there are already helpful distinctions for cyclists in the law when compared to cars. We are allowed to split the lane. DC law allows us to go when the walk signal alights. These are sensible distinctions for us from autos.

A complete stop makes sense when other vehicles are present in the intersection, but when the intersection is clear it makes no sense, just as it makes no sense for a pedestrian to break stride when the intersection is clear. On a bike, we have the same open perspective as that pedestrian; we are able to see around clearly without the obstruction of glass and metal that can create blind spots for cars. We should be able to proceed at a safe speed.

We already give discretion to drivers and cyclists at yield signs. This extends that discretion to cyclists at a set of stop signs (not all - only where the cross street is one or two lanes) based on A. Widespread practice B. Arguments about its safety and utility C. Limited data from Idaho.

If data from Delaware confirm the Idaho experience, that will be more evidence that this is safe.

Note, most of the places where I Delaware a stop sign, there is either zero impact on traffic flow (because no one else is at the intersection) or the impact is positive (because otherwise I would be holding up following motor vehicle traffic) I believe traffic will flow more smoothly if cyclist yield appropriately where there is cross traffic, and hopefully this will make it easier for proper yielding to be taught in Delaware.

If one we had a way of vesting discretion at a location where a yield sign would be preferable to a stop sign.

We have that, a yield sign. This law in Delaware, however, like that in Idaho, in a few localities in Colorado, and at T intersections in Paris, assigns more discretion to cyclists than to drivers of motor vehicles. If people are concerned about that for safety reasons, they would I think look forward to data testing the safety impact. If they object because of ideological concerns, more data will be of no help - though they might also object to other special exemptions for cyclists


Better street design and signalization that allow for bicycles to flow more efficiently are the real solutions, not changing the law to let bicyclists ignore stop signs and red lights. For those of us whose jobs are teaching children how to navigate roadways safely (Safe Routes to School), "stop as yield' will create a situation where adults in the community are modeling a behavior that may be unsafe for children due to their less-developed judgment in terms of distance, speed and danger.

Adults can ride without helmets, and can take the lane on roads no child should ride on. I am not convinced the law for adults should be based on the abilities of children. Aside from which, adults are mostly treating stop as yield anyway. I note the Delaware law makes no change to the obligation to stop at red lights. I would be interested to hear if legal stop as yield has created actual problems teaching children in Idaho or Delaware.

Won't somebody please think of the children!

Actually, stop as yield could be safer for children. Trying to get kids to come to complete, foot-down stop is about as likely as getting adults to. But teaching kids to respect cars and let them go through when they were there first, eh, might have a shot at that.

And obviously the pearl clutching has led to a misrepresentation of reality. The law does not allow cyclists to "ignore stop signs and red lights."

Speaking of misrepresentations of reality, the opposite--in reality--of Idaho Stop is not necessarily putting feet down. Idaho Stop is proceeding at speed if the cyclist has decided the conditions warrant, including whether they have the right of way. Nor do I think it's logical to say stop as yield is safer than stop as stop, for kids or, for that matter, adults either.

The comments to this entry are closed.

Banner design by creativecouchdesigns.com

City Paper's Best Local Bike Blog 2009


 Subscribe in a reader