Should Seattle consider the practice of allowing cyclists to roll through stop signs as if they were yield signs — a law pioneered by the state of Idaho?
San Francisco is considering allowing cyclists to roll through stop signs as if they were yield signs.
Many cycling advocates support the so-called “Idaho stop” as pragmatic, arguing it would let bikers keep momentum and expend less energy. Some say it would even be safer.
Idaho has allowed cyclists to ride through stop signs at empty intersections since 1982. A 2010 analysis of the law’s effects showed bicycle injuries declined nearly 15 percent after the law was implemented. Bike-safety comparisons between Idaho cities and similar-size cities in other states showed Idaho “fared best for overall public safety.”
Would it work here? (Read on, then vote in our poll, below.)
Jan Heine, the editor of Bicycle Quarterly, tested out the method for six months in Seattle and wrote about it in his blog. He found the Idaho stop was not more dangerous, got him around faster and didn’t appear to bother people (including police officers).
In 2009, Oregon lawmakers considered allowing bicyclists to roll through stop signs. The bill died in committee.
Rolling through stop signs did not.
Research by the Portland Bureau of Transportation at the time found cyclists came to a complete stop just 7 percent of the time, according to the Oregonian. Drivers did not do much better. They came to a complete stop just 22 percent of the time.
Washington has been loosening some road rules for cyclists. The Legislature last session debated allowing cyclists to run red lights if a traffic signal that detects vehicles does not trigger and cyclists get stuck for a full traffic light cycle.
The bill passed and took effect this July.