Bicycle Colorado Supports Safety Stop Bill
A bill proposed in the Colorado legislature would allow bicyclists to treat stop signs as yield and red lights as stop signs if the coast is clear. Sponsored by Senator Andy Kerr, Senate Bill 93 is supported by Bicycle Colorado.
Commonly referred to as the Idaho Stop, where a state law was first implemented in 1982, various versions of the Safety Stop are already in place in several Colorado communities. Having a single statewide law in place would help both motorists and bicyclists understand the law more easily and know where the practice is allowed.
A Safety Stop law would still require cyclists to yield to all traffic in the intersection as well as to pedestrians. A study of Idaho’s law found no evidence of a long-term increase in injury or fatality rates and bicycle injury rates declined by 14.5 percent in the law’s first year.
This type of law can reduce conflicts on the roads and improve the flow of traffic by helping motorists not have to wait for a bicyclist to get going. While we work to have a more inclusive infrastructure for all people bicycling and walking, this is a step to help traffic move safely and efficiently within our current system.
STATUS (as of 1/26): The bill is just now up for consideration and has been assigned to the Senate Transportation and Motor Vehicles Committee.
What the proposed law does
- Requires people on bicycles to stop at stop signs and stop lights and yield the right of way if there is any traffic at the intersection.
- At a stop sign intersection, if the coast is clear, the person on a bicycle may proceed like they would at a yield sign.
- At a red stop light, bicyclists must come to a complete stop and then may proceed straight or right if the coast is clear. For bicyclists turning left, they must stop and wait for green light to make a left-hand turn.
- People on bicycles still must yield to people walking and to other vehicles that have the right-of-way.
- Failure to yield would continue to be illegal, as well as unsafe.
What the proposed law does not do
- The proposed law does not change the general right of way rules at intersections.
- It does not give people on bicycles priority over others in the intersection.
- What would this law do?
This law would make it legal for bicyclists to treat stop signs as yield signs and stop lights like a stop sign. No left turns are allowed at a red stop light. A bicyclist 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.
- Why is it often called an “Idaho Stop?”
In 1982, the Idaho legislature passed a law that allowed bicyclists to treat stop signs as yield and not always come to a complete stop.
- What if I feel safer stopping at all stop signs?
As a cyclist, nothing in the law would require you to roll through stop signs. If it is your preferred practice to stop each time, then you may keep doing so.
- Why not apply this to motorists as well?
Stop signs must apply to motorists because their vehicles pose a much greater threat to bicyclists, pedestrians and other motorists.
Studies regarding the Idaho Stop law
- Bicycle Safety and Choice: Compounded Public Benefits of the Idaho Law, Relaxing Stop Requirements for Cycling
From the study’s conclusion: “There is no single measure as quick and cost effective for increased and safer cycling than to relax stopping rules for bicyclists. Stop signs and signals intended to discourage motor traffic have been placed in precisely the places where bicyclists most wish to ride, often without warrant for motorists let alone bicyclists, discouraging cycling and creating widespread noncompliance with a requisite backlash.”
From the study’s executive summary: “Considering permitting ‘Idaho Stops’ at four-way stop intersections, which would enable cyclists to determine whether to stop or yield based on traffic conditions in order to maintain their momentum. The study shows that only about one cyclist in 25 presently complies with the law to come to a complete stop. A pilot program to allow Idaho Stops at certain traffic signal intersections when traffic volumes are relatively low may also be considered.”
Ready to act?
We have launched a campaign to send letters to members of the Colorado Senate Transportation Committee. It’s quick and easy to figure out if you’re a constituent and to send a message. Please take five minutes to speak up in favor of the Safety Stop!