Saturday, March 15, 2014

Bicycles, Rolling Stops, and the Idaho Stop

A simple pavement marking
can make it intuitively obvious
where to place your bike to
trip a red light to green. These
have yet to appear in Delaware.
One state gets it. The rest don't, at least not yet anyway.

In Idaho, it is legal for bicyclists to treat stop signs as yields, and red lights as stop signs. Why? With the latter, it was understood long ago that traffic signals don't always detect bicycles. And even if they did, without painted guidance (right), most would still miss the rquired position over the loop detector. Another advantage is less friction and altercations with motorists, assuming the public is properly educated about it and it is properly enforced.

When comparing Idaho's crash statistics (including Boise - a relatively large city) with other states, there is nothing gained from requiring bicyclists to put a foot down at every stop. In fact, doing so can waste valuable momentum and actually infuriate motorists, i.e. by impeding traffic behind as the cyclist stops, then remounts and struggles to clear the intersection in a timely manner.

The success of the Idaho Stop law proves that it is difficult - if not impossible to impose laws designed for cars and trucks on bicyclists, unless the road is designed as a Complete Street (adapted to all user types, including the non-motorized). Bicycles are not motor vehicles, and very few roads are designed to safely accommodate them. The video below is a must watch for anyone who disputes these facts.

Bicycles, Rolling Stops, and the Idaho Stop from Spencer Boomhower on Vimeo.

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