Another State to Allow Cyclists to Roll Through Stop Signs
Colorado joins list letting bicyclists decide on stops; California not one
On April 13th, Colorado became the ninth state to allow cyclists to roll through stop signs if there’s no reason to stop. The Colorado law allows cyclists to treat stop signs as yield signs and red lights as stop signs. Rolling through a stop sign is often referred to as an “Idaho Stop” because Idaho was the first state to adopt a similar law more than 40 years ago.
What’s the thinking behind letting bicyclists cruise through stop signs? Statistics show intersections are where the most bicycle accidents happen. By allowing them to yield and pass through if it’s safe, they’re avoiding risk by going before traffic turns.
If it seems dangerous to let cyclists cruise through stop signs, you wouldn’t be alone in thinking so. But, a researcher at the University of Southern California is disproving the naysayers. In 2015, researcher Jason Meggs wrote a paper titled Bicycle Safety and Choice – Relaxing Stop Requirements for Cyclists.
Meggs’ paper revealed that in the first year Idaho adopted the law, the state saw a 14.5% reduction in bicycle accidents. His research also found that injury rates for cyclists were significantly lower by as much as 60% in Boise than compared to other cities like Sacramento and Bakersfield.
As more states pass similar “Idaho Stop” laws, authorities are discovering fewer cyclists are being injured. After enacting the “Delaware Yield,” law enforcement found intersection crashes involving cyclists dropped 23% from the previous year when no law existed. Currently, 9 states have laws regarding cyclists and rolling through stop signs.
Giving bicyclists the freedom to essentially ignore traffic lights and signs isn’t always a popular choice, especially for lawmakers. Last year, Governor Gavin Newsom put a stop to a bill that would have given California bikers the same rights as those in Colorado. Some experts also believe that laws such as this could cause legal challenges in personal injury and criminal lawsuits.
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