How Would You Feel About Rolling Through Stop Signs?

On a bike, that is. As it stands right now, bicycles here in Oregon are required to make like a car at stop signs and come to a full and complete stop. I realize not all cyclists do this, I have personally witnessed people barely slowing down, even flat out running red lights, nevermind stop signs.

But the BTA (Bicycle Transportation Alliance) is sponsoring a bill to make “Idaho Stops” the law in Oregon. Apparently this law is already in place in Idaho, hence the name. However, this law would not give bicycles the right of way, and the cyclist would still be required to treat stop signs like a “Yield” sign (slow down and LOOK), and yield to any traffic that beat you to the intersection. Now this only applies to stop signs, and will not include rolling through red lights here in Oregon but it seems that is part of the law in Idaho.

Here’s an excerpt from the BTA Blog about this:

What would this law do?
This law would make it legal for bicyclists to treat stop signs like yield signs. A cyclist approaching an intersection controlled by a stop sign, would be permitted to roll through the stop sign after yielding the right of way if there are other vehicles at the intersection.

Would cars have to stop and wait for bicyclists?
No, this law change would allow a cyclist to slowly approach the intersection and proceed only if the intersection was clear and it was safe to continue. The law does not grant a cyclist permission to take the right of way from another vehicle.

It is a nuisance to have to stop in a quiet residential neighborhood at intersections where the line of sight is good and you can see there are no cars, at all, in any direction. Many cyclists don’t bother stopping as it is at these. So why should you have to stop a car under those same conditions? For one thing, most cyclists are far more acutely aware of their surroundings since they’re not insulated in metal box, with a radio playing, talking on a cell phone, windows rolled up, air conditioner on, and so forth. I can hear cars, even the really quiet ones, coming up behind me on a narrow road, and I get over to let them pass (for which they seem very grateful and hopefully I’ve helped establish some good will between motorists and cyclists). Yes, it takes energy to get a car moving again from a full stop, but a bicycle that doesn’t completely stop will do far less damage running into someone than a car would. It’s also easier to stop a bike that’s rolling through an intersection. And let me emphasize the word ROLLING. This is not going to be a license to blow through at your top speed and expect everyone else to get out of your way.

Idaho’s law has been on the books since 1982. That’s a long test period. I think if it wasn’t working they would have repealed it by now.

You can read more (with lots more links to further articles) at Bike Portland’s Web site.

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About D. D. Syrdal

Writer of vampire stories and science fiction. First novel, "Revenants Abroad", available now at Amazon, BarnesandNoble.com, Kobo.com, Smashwords. If you like a vampire you can go out drinking with and still respect yourself in the morning, I think you'd like Andrej.
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7 Responses to How Would You Feel About Rolling Through Stop Signs?

  1. Bjorn says:

    To clarify the Idaho Stop Light law allows cyclists to come to a complete stop at a red light, and then continue through if there is no cross traffic. It was introduced and championed by a republican senator in response to a request from Idaho Police. It also helps save money since there is less reason to install highly sensitive loops in the road that can detect bicycles.

    The BTA is only proposing the portion of Idaho’s law dealing with stop signs however. As you said the proposal is that cyclists could slow down, look, then proceed if there is no traffic or yield if there is.

    Bjorn

  2. Digital Dame says:

    Thanks, Bjorn. I didn’t even realize they had technology to detect bikes on the road, much less installed somewhere! I’m a hyper-cautious rider, so it would be awhile before I felt comfortable rolling through a stop sign anyway. There are some intersections I ride where I will NEVER do that, but in my quiet neighborhood I can see it happening. If the law passes, that is. I don’t really mind waiting for lights in most cases, so not getting that part tacked on doesn’t bother me.

  3. pacejmiller says:

    Hello – thanks for helping me out on my blog! I am a daily bike rider in the UK, and I must say I’ve rolled through my fair share of intersections – but it usually depends on the circumstances – whether it’s a busy intersection, whether there are other cars, buses or other people, if I’m in a rush, my mood, etc. There are times when I’ve stopped where I wished I would have gone through, and there are times where I went through and thought it might have been better had I stopped.

  4. Digital Dame says:

    Hi pace,

    Glad to hear you’re also a cyclist! I know the feeling, there are times it does seem silly to have to stop at stop signs on a bike but until they change the law here I will continue to do so, in the spirit of good relations between motorists and cyclists.

    BTW, my other blog, Filling Spaces (link at the top) is about writing, so feel free to stop in there if you want to chat about writerly stuff 🙂

  5. Digital Dame says:

    hey pace, if you read this, I lost your blog. Your username isn’t linked to it and my comment on your blog already fell off my comments page. Let me know where you are! 🙂

  6. pacejmiller says:

    Hello Digital Dame!

    My blog’s address is:

    pacejmiller.wordpress.com

    Thanks for the support…I need to figure out how to link my username to the blog…

  7. Digital Dame says:

    There you are 🙂 I believe you do it through your profile (go to your dashboard, look under Users/Your Profile and fill in all the pertinent info.

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