Urban Velo

Bicycle Rolling Stop Animation – Idaho Stop Law

Posted on by in Video with 46 Comments


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

The Idaho Stop Law is a traffic provision that basically allows bicycles to proceed at a slow speed through stop signs if the coast is clear. As cycling for transport becomes more organized and popular, many cycling advocates across the country are hoping for similar changes to the traffic code in their state. The basic reasoning of the law is hard to translate to the non-cyclist, but this animation by Spencer Boomhower does a fantastic job of making it all come together. First seen at BikePortland.org.

46 Comments

  1. John BrookingApril 16, 2009 at 12:25 pm

    Is there currently a big problem with cyclists getting ticketed for rolling stops? If not, aren’t there more important issues to address?

    Even if so, I’m suspicious of yet more legislation that gives cyclists special rights that motor vehicles don’t have. It undermines the important “same road same rules” message that too few people, cyclists and motorists alike, seem to believe in already. Law enforcement is already unclear on the law around bicycling, and this gives them one more difference to keep track of. I’d rather have them ticketing cyclists who ride the wrong way and blow red lights, and maybe advocates should just request law enforcement pay more attention those much more dangerous infractions than to stop sign infractions. Certainly they have better things to do than fundraise via stop sign infractions.

    I guess I don’t see preservation of momentum as a real good reason to promote this. Frankly, it sounds whiny. Basically, you don’t want to stop. Well, guess what, neither do I, and neither do car drivers. I’ll do a rolling stop if it’s safe and if I know I won’t get ticketed, and so will they. If I think I will get ticketed, well then car drivers better get ticketed at the same rate, and then maybe we can talk.

    If it’s safe for bicycle drivers to treat them as yields, is it safe for cars, too? If so, maybe the stops signs ought to just be replaced with yield signs for everyone. The only operational differences between bikes doing rolling stops and cars doing them is that a bicycle driver is closer to the front of his/her vehicle and has no blind spots. Is that a sufficient difference to treat the two vehicle drivers differently? Possibly, and I would certainly have more sympathy for that argument than for the momentum one.

    - A 7-year year-round bike commuter in Portland MAINE

  2. unixd0rkApril 19, 2009 at 11:59 pm

    @john: a bike is not a car. we have laws that allow bikes on sidewalks and not cars. there is no reason to expect both modes of transprotation to follow the same exact laws. why not a few more laws pertaining to bikes that make sense?

  3. JeannieAugust 18, 2009 at 4:21 pm

    I live in Atlanta. Riding a bike in this city is challenging at best. I do ride because I like it, but it’s very urban and cars don’t like us. My initial impression was that this rolling stop law was a great idea. Especially in a town as hilly as this. Many, many stop signs at the bottom of hills. I hear the whiny argument, but I’m thinking momentum is a big deal in a hilly city. We are so auto-centric we need to do more to make this a bike friendly place. I vote for the law.

  4. EricaOctober 1, 2009 at 10:45 am

    Great idea!
    Most bicyclists do this anyway. Why not make it legal?
    Let’s do as much as we can to encourage more bicyclists, causing less traffic, less pollution and an overall more pleasant city experience!

  5. deaddriftOctober 16, 2009 at 4:29 pm

    Let it be noted that the differences between bikes and cars are not limited to position on/in the vehicle and presence or absence of blond spots, as suggested by John, above. Other important considerations that support the creation of “Idaho stop” laws for bicyclists include bicyclists’ average lower rate of travel, and the very important ability for a cyclist to HEAR traffic approaching where a driver most likely will not.

    Bikes and cars are fundamentally different, and the yield for stop signs law is just plain good sense.

  6. Christine WynneOctober 17, 2009 at 1:38 am

    The other HUGE difference between bikes and cars is the stopping distance of a bike versus a car. When yielding and then proceeding at a stop sign, a bike can stop near instantly if another car or person suddenly appears. A car has a significant stopping distance depending on the speed and the weight of the vehicle. It is plain foolishness to demand that bikes and cars have the “rules of the road” in every instance.

    Also, the movement is for bikes to ride on quiet streets where cars don’t like to go (often because of frequent stop signs). It would defeat the whole advantage of riding on a quiet street if one had to stop at every stop sign (sometimes every block) and would make bicycling a miserable, tiresome experience which it can be on crowded city streets with many stop lights (where it is necessary and essential for bikes to obey the law).

  7. T.C. O'RourkeOctober 17, 2009 at 2:24 am

    One more important point: in practice, *nobody*– on a bike or in a car– stops at stops signs, unless negotiating cross traffic. And, in my mind, this really isn’t much of an issue.

    Nice video.

  8. Bill SOctober 17, 2009 at 9:33 am

    To John and others:

    The idea of “same road, same rules” is already false. Bikes are ALREADY treated differently than cars on the road under many circumstances. Bikes are not allowed on most freeways – nor should they be because of the speed differential. Bikes are expected to ride to the far right in most circumstances (and in single file) – cars and motorcycles are not – they get full use of ALL traffic lanes.

    If these “common sense” rules are reasonable and recognize that it is unsafe to operate bikes in certain condition and locations, so are rules that acknowledge that bikes can safely do other things like the Oregon rolling stop.

  9. Daniel IOctober 17, 2009 at 1:34 pm

    I realize that most bikers in practice do rolling stops anyway and that few are ticketed for them. But I think this is important nonetheless. Two reasons:

    1) Although bikers are infrequently ticketed, they can’t guarantee that they won’t be, and it’s a pain to think that you can be slapped with a fine for hundreds of dollars at any moment.

    2) As a biker, I believe in *strict* obedience to traffic laws and come to a complete stop at stop signs. Why? Because traffic laws protect me. I want drivers to take them seriously, and I don’t think I can ask that of drivers if I’m not willing to take them seriously myself. This proposed law allows me to bike safely and conveniently *and* obey the rules of the road.

  10. Gregory MeadOctober 18, 2009 at 8:50 am

    Most drivers do the same exact thing when coming to a rural intersection and momentium is critical on a bike. It’s not like we can just push 1 pedal down once to get back up to speed. Luckily I live in a great cycling community where by and large motorists and cyclist’s get along quite well and frequently the motorist’s wave us through intersections as a group and actually stop for us at bike trail crossings to let us cross.

  11. Wayne PeinOctober 19, 2009 at 5:04 pm

    Christine,

    Bicycles have a longer, not shorter, stopping distance than cars. Cars can stop at roughly .7 – 1.0 gees, whereas bikes are about 1/2 that.

    Maintaining momentum is also important for motor vehicles because it saves considerable fuel and pollution, which is good for everyone.

    The solution is not to bend laws with suspect justification. The solution is less stop signs, replaced by yield signs or traffic circles.

    Wayne

  12. Tony BarbourOctober 20, 2009 at 9:28 am

    Common sense goes a long way in this issue. There is a reason for cars to stop, and bicyles to slow down. A bicycle won’t do the damage a car will if it hits someone. This isn’t an issue of safety and never has been. This issue is about money and the ability to generate income for police departments. I think that most stop signs should be yield signs. Are you saying a person cannot come to an intersection and look to see if anything is coming? If it is a blind corner, or heavy traffic area, a “Stop” sign is called for. Other laws would prevent accidents. Left vehicles Yield to Right. Bicycles should be allowed on sidewalks too. Think of your children riding bikes.

  13. Andrew in CaliforniaOctober 20, 2009 at 9:40 am

    The problem with the Idaho Stop arises when motorists treat stop signs as a mere suggestion and blow through intersections without even slowing down. A bicyclist who finds himself in the intersection at the time, having rolled through a stop sign, will be the loser. It comes back to the fact that you can’t legislate common sense.

    In my town I’ve noticed that flagrant stop sign violations seem to come in waves, committed by a very small percentage of motorists. On occasion I’ve followed them in my own car and observed them run through five, six and more consecutive stop signs. When it happens, I alert the local police to the problem and they step up enforcement at particular intersections until the problem diminishes. The penalty of getting a moving violation on one’s record and a fine in the vicinity of $300 or a weekend in traffic school is fairly effective in cooling ‘em off for a while.

  14. SamOctober 20, 2009 at 10:16 am

    The power output argument is disingenuous because while a car puts out 1000 times the power, it has 1000 times the MASS. A car has more momentum to lose for sure. It’s just a bigger pain in the ass for a biker to get back up to speed.

  15. Mark LaubacherOctober 20, 2009 at 10:51 am

    It seems to me that “same road, same rules” concept is flawed.

    Even among motor vehicles, there are different rules between autos and trucks. The smaller vehilce (autos) is less restricted that the bigger vehicle (trucks). Trucks often have a lower speed limit on interstates and are often prohibted from the left lane. Trucks are prohibited on certain residential streets and must adhere to weight limits and stricter saftey inspections.

    The auto is granted greater flexibility because is it smaller and lighter. Why not recognize that bicycles are smaller and lighter than cars (and travel at vastly different speeds and are propelled by different means)? It is only common sense.

  16. RyanOctober 20, 2009 at 11:47 am

    The power output argument isn’t about momentum, its about efficiency. The point of the type of transportation they are talking about is moving people, and a car is a pretty inefficient way to do it because it is 1000 times the mass. So you need 1000 times the power to move the same person. Seems pretty inefficient.

  17. TimOctober 20, 2009 at 3:05 pm

    In short I’d agree with the yield law, as both a bicyclist and auto driver. It’s objective, to increase ridership, is noble and the risk introduced is assumed by the bicyclist without placing burden on others.

    As Mark L. stated with the auto-truck comparison it comes down to creating the law to be “separate but equal”, optimizing the restriction to fit the vehicle. Stop signs exist because some people are not smart enough to yield appropriately, or at all, at an intersection. If a bicycle wants to roll through go for it, the rider is accepting the risk, if they get hit because they didn’t do a good job looking, or over estimated their ability to get through, they’ll get penalized. If a car were to roll thought a stop sign they’d probably “win”, or break even. (Isn’t it always the drunk who survives the accident?)

    As an engineer I respect the whole momentum thing, but I concur with Sam, cars have the same issue, its just easier for them to restart, that’s why some people drive them instead of riding a bike! :o )

  18. MOctober 21, 2009 at 3:30 pm

    It is dangerous, sure at first they might slow but eventually you will see they just glancing and turning down the street. I can understand the bike rider has more to lose (his life) but the driver of a car would have to live with causing a death. There would be no accidents if people didn’t make stupid choices and this “rolling stop” is a stupid choice.

  19. Steve HOctober 22, 2009 at 4:29 pm

    Having commuted thousands of miles by bike I am definitely in favor of legal rolling stops. Accelerating back up to speed multiple times with a full backpack/panniers takes a lot of the fun out of it.

    Of course, it would only apply to people who have drivers licenses, right? Kids and other people who have not had drivers training might not be aware of the subtleties of a particular situation and could come to harm as a result.

  20. dujourOctober 23, 2009 at 2:47 am

    whiners all. Stopping and starting is good exercise. And really, if any vehicle should be allowed to turn stop signs into yields it should be, in order, semi-tractor trailers, trucks, cars, motorcycles, scooters, and then bicycles at the very last. Momentum conservation applies to everything that moves, and the bigger the mass the more energy that must be used to return to optimal efficiency.

    Stopping and restarting that Semi-Tractor and Trailer is widely more wasteful of fuel than the bicyclist. In fact, the larger the mass, the more inefficient stopping and starting is so let’s rewrite the vehicle code laws so that, depending on how much your transportation vehicle masses, you get priority yield at any stop sign. Boy howdy wouldn’t that make driving fun!

    What a pseudo-science bunch of hooey to get your way. whiners all.

  21. SOctober 23, 2009 at 4:45 am

    Good conversation. Talk is cheap and always good. I’d like to clear up a few points as a mechanical engineer who races bikes. As was stated previously, power to weight ratio of a car and a bike are indeed similar, but it isn’t the momentum that is at issue. For about 50 feet, I can beat a car off the line. The problem is the ratio of power to aerodynamic drag. Above 15 mph, 80-90 precent of the resistance to motion is from wind resistance. The reason a bike has trouble going 55 and a car doesn’t is that a car is streamlined such that the drag compared to the powerplant is much less than that of a human frame. As much as racers try to contort that frame to be faster, there is only so much a person can stand to do (except make very odd choices in clothing).

    So if drag is the problem, why worry about slowing down? It should’t affect you right? Well, thats not entirely true. If it were a motorcycle, it would be true. But unfortunatly, as amazing a piece of mechanical genious as the human body is (and I truely mean that), it doesn’t follow the same rules as an internal comustion engine. Put simply, the human body is more efficient if it is moving in a rythm. A runner must find his “pace” in order to conserve enough energy to finish a race. A rider must find the correct crank rpm in order to do the same. Stoping has a far more detrimental effect on a human engine than a metal one. An example is when people tell you not to sit down and in fact to keep walking around after a hard exersion to avoid problems (such as a heart attack in extreame cases).

    A quick comment about the sidewalk: I race at about 23-28 mph and have reached 40 mph in a dead sprint (55 downhill in a windstorm). If your kids are playing in the front yard with a chance of crossing the sidewalk, do you really want me there? I avoid sidewalks not because of some high and pious ideals but because I don’t want to plaster the next guy who walks out of McDonalds.

    As far as the law is concerned, I’m in Idaho so I feeling pretty good right now. If you think about it though, a collision between a bike and a car is potentially crippling or worse to the biker and a merely a nuisance to the car (a couple of my friends have been hit. Not at stop signs if you were wondering, mostly from cars taking right turns off of main roads). If a bike speeds through a stop sign, he endangers himself. If a car speeds through a stop sign, he endangers himself and others. People have an equal right to safety, though some seem to think they can waive that right (recklass endagerment). Letting bikes *slowly* roll through doesn’t increase the risk to others on that road. This would change if bikes were more prevalent, but, even here, they’re not.

  22. DaveOctober 23, 2009 at 8:49 am

    I don’t know about the guy who said that “while a car puts out 1000 times the power, it has 1000 times the MASS”. Maybe if your driving a tank to work and back. My bike weighs about 25lbs, and my that math my car would have to weigh 25,000lbs.

    Bye honey, have a nice day. I’ll leave you car, I”m taking our bulldozer to work today!

  23. JohnOctober 23, 2009 at 5:04 pm

    In response to Dave…can a car accelerate faster than a bicycle? Ahhhh, yes, that is what you are missing in extrapolating that a car would weigh 25000 lbs. based on power output. Cars have a higher power to weight ratio, and therefore it’s not surprising that they don’t weigh proportional to their power versus a person riding a bike.

  24. LOctober 23, 2009 at 10:51 pm

    Unlike the rest of the mainstream American population (so it would seem), I wouldn’t mind getting rid of ALL traffic signals like some towns in Europe have done. The reports I’ve heard share that accidents are down across the board because everyone watches out for what the other guy is doing (be they a pedestrian, cyclist or encased in a ton of steel) because if they don’t they know they have the chance of becoming roadkill or of making roadkill… Inherently, this approach allows ALL to perform a rolling stop when it’s safe to do so.

    Unfortunately, Americans as a rule are too dependant on, and empowered by the automobile for such a change to happen here and if change did happen, it could only begin if the populace is forced to park the car for one day out of the week, as is the case in Mexico City.

  25. DaveGOctober 23, 2009 at 11:17 pm

    General George Patton had a theory about combat. He believed that by moving faster, you expose yourself to the enemy for a shorter period of time, thereby becoming less vulnerable to fire and less likely to be hit. This principle applies to bikes and intersection. A stopped rider takes longer to cross an intersection than a rider who rolls through, meaning he stays in the intersection for a longer period of time. More time in the intersection means a greater chance of being hit. This time factor also has another impact on a bicycle rider – the cyclist who has stopped needs a larger gap in the traffic to cross the intersection safely. The cyclist who rolls through can use a smaller gap in the traffic. Cars, with their ability to accelerate rapidly, don’t need a gap as big as a stopped cyclist. There is also the consideration that a stopped cyclist has unclipped from at least one pedal, and must devote some time and attention to clipping back in, distracting and slowing him just when he is most vulnerable – while crossing an intersection.

  26. MSGordonOctober 24, 2009 at 1:32 am

    The bigger issue, IMO, is that stop signs are over-prescribed. The vast majority of stop signs should actually BE yield signs — as they are situations where this is clear line of sight in all directions, and generally low traffic on one of the cross streets most of the time. IMO it’s absolutely senseless for neighborhoods to have 4 way stops at every single intersection when there is clear visiblity in all directsion and very low average traffic. The busier street shoudl have yield signs in both directions, and the less-busy cross streets (such as cul de sacs) should have stop signs. That way, during the vast majority of the time when there is no cross traffic, the cars to waste fuel and generate wear and tear on their brakes etc. by stopping and going.

    Overuse of stop signs in inappropriate places IMO has led to drivers becoming “Desensytized” to them and illegally roll through them most of teh time — unfortunately even in cases where they ARE justified (eg, partially obscured view of the cross street)

    I cycle regularly to get to school. I already treat most stop signs as yield signs along my commute. Particularly stops on inclines where it’s difficult to unclip, drop to the lowest gear, and accelearate. I usually try to time my arrival to the stops to coincide with “gaps” in the cross traffic. If I were to come to a complete stop, it would take me considerably longer than a typical car to accelearte back up to speed again — leaving me IN the intersection much longer. In a car this isn’t a problem, as cars tend to be seen and respected by other drivers. Unfortunately, bikes tend to be “invisible”, the longer I am in an intersection, the more at risk I am of being splattered by drivers rolling through their stop because they don’t see any *cars* coming …

    I consider mitigating this potential risk to my life to outweigh the risk of a citation, though luckily I haven’t received any — even when practicing my “yields” within line of sight of campus police, who are extremely strict about citing cars for not coming to complete stops.

    Interestingly, in cases where I actally do stop — most drivers are surprised by that. There are some cyclists that are more strict about completely stopping than I am, but there are many more that blatantly “blow through” stops without so much as slowing. I believe many cars have come to anticipate that cyclists will ignore the stop signs, just as I have come to anticipate that cars will ignore ME, or not see me and attempt to run me over if given the chance. This Idaho law seems reasonable — permit STOP=YIELD for bikes, but still acknowledge the “blowing trhough” stops as unsafe (just as blowing through a yield sign would be for a car).

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  29. ElvinOctober 24, 2009 at 3:29 am

    Hi,just a quick response from the Netherlands. We don’t have this rule here and we thus have to stop at every stopping-sign. I think a lot of these signs are just misplaced and shouldn’t be there if people were driving and riding carefully enough.
    It is though also a ‘double sign’ for people who are unknown to the crossing and notice that there is something to be extra carefull for at a stopping-sign.
    I have been in some places in our country where the signs are virtually gone and it makes the situation much clearer, but some people tend to go faster even with the car then before. Especially at night.

    As for polution in a short way, all motor-vehicles should be going first instead of bicycles, but after a short time, almost nobody is cycling anymore and the polution gets worse. If you restrict car-driving, and promote cycling, you will have polution since people will not drive their heavy car with costly engines but will take the bike. Also with many health-profits.

    For this law, I think it is a good promotion-tool for the bike and should also be taken in consideration here in the Netherlands. At least over here, most dangerous situations are not dangerous as long as the drivers are not speeding and looking far enough ahead.
    Also: not always driving the maximum speed and overtaking when somebody else is not (or is not speeding)

    Elvin

  30. Larry ChambleeOctober 26, 2009 at 3:49 pm

    I wish California would adopt such a law. I have heard that there is a bill in the Assembly now to do just that.

    The most significant point is made early in the video, almost as a throwaway point – - The cyclist has more to lose in a collision in an intersection than a person in a car. The liklihood, and the seriousness of injury to a car or its occupants in a car/bike collision is miniscule, compared with the danger to the cyclist. That is why the law should operate differently for the two kinds of vehicles. After all, family vehicles are not required to pull in at truck scales. Discrimination? Of course. Intelligent discrimination? Duh.

    Stop signs are intended to prevent injury by vehicles whose operators are careless at intersections. The law requires at least the due diligence that results from stopping to take a look. Stopping is not nearly as necessary for cyclists, who have a much greater incentive to be diligent.

    Finally, cyclists usually have greater visibility than motor vehicles. Our eyes are higher off the road, so that we can see over cars, and we do not have roof posts or blind spots as automobiles do.

    However, the video emphasizes “efficiency” so much that the observation that huge trucks should have first priority makes sense in that context. But from the point of view of safety, priority for trucks is insane.

    And who cares about the efficiency of cycling for the cyclist? We do it primarily for the exercise and to save fuel. It saves hydrocarbon fuel just as well with stop signs as without. Stops do make for a better workout. But man, are they annoying – because they are so unnecessary.

    Would someone decide not to ride a bike to work because it’s too hard to start from a dead stop. Not likely.

    Ride safe.

  31. jimNovember 2, 2009 at 4:32 pm

    I think it helpful to separate the discussion into two categories-
    1. Traffic science
    and
    2. Legal propriety.

    First I would ask for some technical statistics. For example:
    How many persons are killed and injured by motor-vehicles each year?
    How many persons killed/injured by bicycles?

    “The “Idaho stop…
    http://bikeportland.org/2009/01/14/idaho-stop-law-faq/
    recognizes a core difference between cars and bikes: the importance of momentum.”

    Issac Newton understood that in simple physical terms, Force = Mass x Velocity. A bicycle + rider averages less than 200 lbs.
    A motor-vehicle + rider I will guess averages 4000 lbs.

    Calculate:
    (Bicycle) 200x 10mph= 2,000.
    (Motor-vehicle) 4000x 10mph= 40,000.

    To this comparison might be added muscle torque, plus flywheel energy of bicycle wheels, motor-vehicle wheels and engine flywheel, and engine combustion output energy at the instant of impact, when applicable. I don’t know how to quantify these additional force factors, but
    intuitively the net force of the Motor-vehicle would go up more than the bicycle.

    The Federal Government regulates bicycles (including electric motorized up to 700 watts/20mph top level speed unassisted by pedaling) as consumer devices like vacuum
    cleaners and microwave ovens.

    Most other motorized vehicles are regulated under the Federal Dept. of Transportation.

    If you ran a stop sign by jogging, pushing a rechargeable Hoover Electra-Broom, or carrying a microwave oven,
    what should happen?

    Legally, a peek into the origin of common-law prosecution
    lends understanding to the concept of “enforcement” of
    bicycle behavior:

    http://www.runet.edu/~junnever/law/commonlaw.htm

    ” during the 300 years preceding the establishment of
    English colonies in North America, three important
    innovations were introduced into English law and
    English legal thought. First, law became an important
    ally of those seeking to maximize profit through
    capitalist market relations by defining many acts that
    disrupted the predictability of market relations
    as crimes,… ”
    (Overly-fast ‘psychologically disruptive’ congestion
    transportation via bicycle, inducing jealousy and anger
    in motorists stuck in traffic and expecting more speed
    for their costly transport “investments”?)

    “…Second, criminal law came to he seen as an appropriate
    tool for insuring an adequate supply of cheap labor, first
    for the agrarian economy and later for the developing
    industrial-mercantile economy of early capitalist England.
    (For-profit jails proliferate in the U.S. and use inmates
    for productive labor)

    Third, and perhaps most importantly for contemporary
    criminal law, members of the laboring class who turned to
    theft, violence, idleness, or other forms of deviance as
    an adaptation to the brutal conditions of their lives
    were defined as criminals. In so doing the English
    State absolved the emerging capitalists who profited
    greatly from the brutal conditions of working class
    life of all responsibility for the consequences of
    these conditions….”
    (Bicyclist as idle penny-pinching deviant thus outside
    the support or sanction of economic society….)

    Perhaps the enlightenment will come as
    an economic necessity in the foreseeable
    future, precluding further congestion
    between costly and powerful polluting
    machines and bicycles:

    http://www.marketwatch.com/story/story/print?guid=47729BA0-933E-4299-92CC-EB41EEE671D2

    jiml

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  33. johnNovember 26, 2009 at 1:42 pm

    @andrew in cali. The “rolling stop” applies only to bicycles. Idaho car drivers have been known to make california stops, but they take their license in their hands when they do it, as it IS ticketable. Idaho also allows bikes to pass through stop lights after coming to a complete stop, a reaction to the fact that most lights in Idaho are weight-triggered. Now if they could only enforce the laws they DO have on the books. Boise saw three car/bike accidents within a month this summer

  34. JTNovember 27, 2009 at 1:14 am

    I don’t stop in my Jeep why would I stop on my bike, I have eyes if I see a cop I stop, otherwise coast is clear I go. Simple, don’t waste my time with laws.

  35. @ JohnNovember 27, 2009 at 7:51 pm

    Lights aren’t weight triggered.. what you see on the road is an inductance loop buried. It detects a lot of metal over the spot on the road.. most cyclists can solve the red light problem by taping a strong magnet on the bottom of their frame.

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  37. DwightMarch 6, 2010 at 12:30 pm

    John,
    Were any of the bicycle-automobile collisions in Boise due to the bicycle riders failing to stop at a stop sign?
    I ride in North Idaho and have appreciated this law. I ride a recumbent, so rapid acceleration is out of the question. When I roll through an intersection, it takes me about 3 seconds to clear the intersection. When I stop it takes me 7 – 10 seconds to clear the intersection, more than twice as long.
    It seems to me that many cars are accelerating toward me as I’m in the intersection and I want to be in that zone as little time as possible.
    I’m also diligent about being visible. I wear high-vis green clothing, flashing lights and reflectors on my helmet. It’s amazing how many cyclists ride around wearing black.

  38. DoompatrolMarch 17, 2010 at 5:09 pm

    Interesting comments, for the most part.

    I agree with the vehicularists–most stop signs should instead be treated as yield signs for all vehicles. Let’s face the fact–unless forced to stop by other traffic or the presence of police, virtually nobody regardless of mode of locomotion actually comes to a full stop at stop signs.

    And let’s dispel the myth that stopping creates safety. A car driver who stops dead, then mashes the gas while texting is a much greater hazard than one who carefully rolls through a stop sign at 10mph after confirming there is no other traffic or pedestrians around.

    But I cringe whenever I read somebody worshipping the European way of doing things and lamenting that we don’t do it that way here. Get a clue, peeps: safety isn’t in the system, it’s in the users.

    I spent seven years riding and racing for 50,000 miles in Japan without a single crash. They have half the population of the US packed into a land mass the size of California, with significantly narrower roads than we have in the US…but one one crash for me.

    Since I returned to the States in 1999, I quit racing and became a bike commuter (i.e. substantially decreased by exposure on the road), and have been hit four times:
    rear-ended by a car because I actually stopped at a stop sign (driver didn’t expect me to stop); nailed two times at 4-way stops after stopping (drivers didn’t see me in clear, daylight conditions); and nailed by a driver who stopped at a T intersection stop sign, then mashed the gas when I was in front of him (he also didn’t see me).

    None of the drivers were cited, even when clear violations of the law happened.

  39. DoompatrolMarch 17, 2010 at 5:11 pm

    “one one crash” = not one crash

    sry

  40. DaleCMay 12, 2010 at 11:35 pm

    I support the Idaho Stop and am an avid cyclist. That said, I also think we do ourselves no good with exaggeration. Case in point, unless my car weighs 250,000 lbs, it does not have 1000 times the mass of my bike and I.

    Sorry to nit pick, but I am used to people taking minor points like that and using them against me in debate.

  41. On Changing a Driver’s Perspective | BikeridrOctober 16, 2010 at 8:25 pm

    [...] Look at softening laws made for cars, not for cyclists One of the pivotal differences between cars and bicycles is that cars require next to no effort to operate. Gas = go, brake = stop. On a bicycle, it’s not so easy… Maintaining momentum is paramount to getting from A to B efficiently. Now imagine for a moment that you could treat stop signs as yield signs, and stop lights as stop signs. I know many cyclists do this already, but imagine if it was legal!! Sound too good to be true? Well, this dream is a reality, not in Amsterdam or some other cycling mecca, but in Idaho. I think this step alone would go a long way to further the cyclists cause – cyclists finally being given different and specific laws, because they are different. (via UrbanVelo) [...]

  42. Bike Crash kills Cyling Safety Advocate and Leader Bruce Rosar | Fairfax & Loudoun Personal Injury LawyerNovember 14, 2010 at 10:18 pm

    [...] Much time has been spent discussing safety laws, especially Idaho’s "rolling Stop" Bike law. Idaho has exceptional bike safety [...]

  43. The Beauty of a Bike « UnservilleJuly 21, 2011 at 9:52 pm

    [...] to be as efficient with their energy output as possible.  It is also important to understand that a bicycle is at it’s most efficient when it is already in motion, so coming to a complete stop is something that people and bicycles as a team pretty much want to [...]

  44. True confessions of a bicycle scofflaw | GristOctober 25, 2011 at 9:06 am

    [...] to a complete stop with my foot on the ground. If none of these things is happening, I go on ahead. This video describes it [...]

  45. Do You Yield or Stop at Stop Signs? | Bike Lane LivingMay 18, 2012 at 7:08 am

    [...] some cities, cyclists are legally allowed to roll through stop signs in which they feel it’s safe and doesn’t endanger anyone around them. However, not all [...]

  46. If You See Red, Stop Your Tread | LADOT Bike BlogJuly 11, 2014 at 2:22 pm

    [...] The practice, while a boon to cyclist momentum, is unfortunately illegal. While states like Idaho, and more recently Virginia, allow cyclists to treat traffic control signals differently than cars [...]

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