February 4, 2009
KBOO Bike Show: Idaho Stop Sign Law
Listen to the show (mp3, 26.1MB)
An in-depth look at the Idaho stop sign law which effectively turns stop signs into yield signs for cyclists. Can this law work in Oregon? Is it long past due or a potentially dangerous change? Are all vehicles created equal? Join the KBOO Bike Show to join the discussion and hear what the experts have to say about the future of how we not only go, but stop in Oregon.
February 4, 2009 10:44 PM
I'm interested to see how it goes, but I'm not hopeful. I expect that people will take it too far, and incidents will increase.
Hopefully I'm wrong.
February 5, 2009 12:23 PM
I am really excited for this change. It has worked successfully in the state of Idaho for close to 3 decades now. IDOT bike/ped guru Mark McNeese has repeatedly said that they have looked at the data and the change resulted in no safety issues in Idaho.
The law has worked so well that the state police and a republican lawmaker recently worked together to draft a bill which is now Idaho Law that adds additional provisions for cyclists. At stop lights cyclists are now permitted to come to a complete stop but then go ahead and proceed if there is no cross traffic. This new provision also appears to be working well allowing for a smoother flow of traffic without any safety concerns.
Boise is a major city with many cyclists and would be the second largest city in Oregon so Idaho is a good comparison when thinking about if this change would probably be good for our state. It appears from their experience that it would be.
There may be some legitimate concerns out there from people, especially people who strongly advocate vehicular cycling but increased injury/death rates should not be among them, there simply will not be a negative safety impact from this piece of legislation.
Bikes already have many laws that treat them differently from cars. I think that is appropriate because we are not cars, but more of a hybrid between pedestrians and motor vehicles, as such it makes sense to not always have exactly the same rules. For example pedestrians do not stop at stop signs and have the right of way as they enter the cross walk, this law would allow bikes the freedom to not come to a complete stop like a pedestrian, but would maintain the current right of way laws. As such cyclists will still regularly stop at stop signs when there are other vehicles present, but they will not have to come to a complete stop while traveling on a low traffic street. This will encourage riders to move off high speed main arterial roads onto nearby residential streets which is safer.
February 5, 2009 12:58 PM
Part of Idaho's justification for the stop light law was that many of their traffic signal sensors don't detect bicycles. So on a traffic light when there wasn't a lot of cars around, the cyclist could end up hanging out for 15 minutes waiting for a car to come along to trip the green light. Given that what most cyclist do in that situation was simply wait until nobody is around, and then run the light anyways, they decided to go ahead and code that into the law. (If you run into a light like that in Portland, you should report it. 823-SAFE. Cause waiting until nobody is around takes a while, and it would be better if they just worked.)
The U-turn law in Oregon is very similar: You can't do it if anyone is around, (unless there is a sign saying it is legal.) The law basically says: Don't get caught, and there won't be a problem.
February 6, 2009 2:03 PM
This law will work more-or-less the same here as it does in Idaho. It is simply codification of existing practice: a cyclist behaves neither like a vehicle or a pedestrian, but our laws variously try to group them into one or the other. This results in specific conflicts that will eventually have to be addressed.
Stop signs are one issue; crosswalks and sidewalks are another; specific signals, signs and markings are yet another. Our laws have lagged far behind needs and practice, which require special attention to this unique mode of travel.
March 18, 2009 3:17 PM
When I was growing up in New Jersey, I was told one very simple rule to riding my bike around town: Bikes obey the same laws as vehicles. I rode my bike to high school in Oregon nearly every day until I had a car and never had any problem. Now, having a separate law for bikes is going to cause too many incidents. First off, if a biker decides to go through a stop on a busy/fast street, like say, Hall Blvd, whats going to happen if he pedals out in front of a car and gets hit? The car is going to get fined for it and sued for medical bills?
And I also ride a motorcycle, and I can only imagine how many other riders are going to be pushing this one to go for motorcycles as well. Similar arguments apply. All in all, everything is fine as is, a stop sign isn't THAT much of an inconvinience for you.