Dan Grunig

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.

Sign the petition in support of this bill!

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.

FAQs

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.

More information

Studies regarding the Idaho Stop law

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.”

Video from Oregon about the Idaho Stop 

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!

Dan Grunig

About the Author: Dan Grunig

Dan directs our organization’s efforts. Transportation and land use policies are his specialty. Gaining equal rights for people who bike is his passion. He loves Colorado because every part of the state is an amazing place to visit and ride. He commutes to work on his bike and rides the roads and trails for fun.

COMMENTS (6)

Brian Weiss - Reply

Please support the bill proposed by Senator Kerr to give more rights to cyclists, reduce car vs. cyclist contact, and have a uniform rule throughout the State. The bill does not take away anyone’s rights and will make traffic flow better. This is all consistent with the Governor’s intent to make Colorado the best state for bicycle tourism.

Nicola L. Huffstickler - Reply

Please make this legal!

Lance tyler - Reply

This is the stupidest proposal ever put forward. Where I live we already have too many car drivers who routinely blow through stop signs….and since bicyclists also routinely drive cars this would merely encourage bad And illegal) driving behavior generally. PS I do own and ride a bicycle.

    Katherine Fuller - Reply

    Bicycle Colorado is testifying in the transportation committee on behalf of this bill on Feb. 7. A lot of reporting so far has gotten the proposed law wrong. It does not give cyclists any special right-of-way privileges and only comes into effect when the intersection is clear. Bikes still have to yield to everyone else.

    We had the same concern about driver hostility and looked into it deeper. We found out that it’s difficult to pinpoint and measure what exactly causes driver hostilities. Things that we can measure actually point to lower hostilities as a result of the Idaho Stop.

    – Colorado communities that have this law in place (several do) report it has helped traffic flow, which makes everyone happier.
    – Our members that live in these communities have not reported any specific increases of hostility against cyclists.
    – Idaho bicycle crash rates dropped after passing the bill. That state consistently has one of the lowest bicycle crash rates per captia — lower than Colorado.

    If the bill passes, we believe the law could help defuse arguments that bicyclists are always breaking the law. Long term, we hope the law would actually help reduce tensions. For us, that makes it worth discussing.

John Mallow - Reply

I would like to see a Harrassment Law implemented in Colorado as California implemented recently. I read an article on a motorist who harassed a cyclist and his daughter in Louisianna and was convicted of Harrassment in that state. I know we have all experienced our share of Harrassment by motorists. I live and ride in the Grand Junction, Colorado area, and for the most part, motorists operate there vehicles according to the law. But on every ride their is the one that wants to see how close they can come to you, yelling obsinity’s, flipping you off, swinging their vehicle passenger door at you. I know while riding a bike alone, which how I ride,it happens so fast I don’t get the license number of the vehicle. Maybe if we had a Harrassment law on the books, and drivers knew about the law, it would curb the harassment on our roads?

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