Take the 2-minute tour ×
Bicycles Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for people who build and repair bicycles, people who train cycling, or commute on bicycles. It's 100% free, no registration required.

In Idaho (PDF), bicyclists are allowed to treat stop signs as yields, and red lights as stop signs (essentially; see the actual law for details). This seems like a very reasonable approach, balancing the fact that bicycles are smaller, more maneuverable, and less dangerous for crossing intersections against the fact that you still do need to stop at red lights and be safe when going through intersections.

Are there any other states or countries that have similar laws?

49-720. STOPPING — TURN AND STOP SIGNALS.

  1. A person operating a bicycle or human-powered vehicle approaching a stop sign shall slow down and, if required for safety, stop before entering the intersection. After slowing to a reasonable speed or stopping, the person shall yield the right-of-way to any vehicle in the intersection or approaching on another highway so closely as to constitute an immediate hazard during the time the person is moving across or within the intersection or junction of highways, except that a person after slowing to a reasonable speed and yielding the right-of-way if required, may cautiously make a turn or proceed through the intersection without stopping.
  2. A person operating a bicycle or human-powered vehicle approaching a steady red traffic control light shall stop before entering the intersection and shall yield to all other traffic. Once the person has yielded, he may proceed through the steady red light with caution. Provided however, that a person after slowing to a reasonable speed and yielding the right-of-way if required, may cautiously make a right-hand turn. A left-hand turn onto a one-way highway may be made on a red light after stopping and yielding to other traffic.
share|improve this question
6  
This is a fantastic law, something I'd like to see here in Canada. –  darkcanuck Sep 18 '10 at 20:28
2  
Oregon tried but did not end up adopting the law: bikeportland.org/2009/04/20/… –  kevins Sep 18 '10 at 22:01
2  
My local bicycle advocacy group, MassBike, opposes Idaho-style stop laws; they try to emphasize "same-road, same-rules." I would like to find out if anywhere besides Idaho has such laws, to provide additional evidence that it's a good idea. Given that it's pretty much the way most bicyclists I see actually ride, I doubt that it can really be that bad, and the extra awareness would likely make it a net gain. –  Brian Campbell Sep 18 '10 at 23:11
1  
The body of the question is fine, but the title is a bit confusing. Perhaps the title could be, "Which states allow bicyclists to legally treat stop signs as yields?" –  Drew Stephens Sep 19 '10 at 4:33
    
@Drew The law in Idaho is fairly famous (at least in the US), and most people refer to it as the "Idaho stop law." I thought it would be quicker to mention "Idaho" than to mention "treat stop signs as yields and red lights as stop signs." –  Brian Campbell Sep 19 '10 at 5:01

5 Answers 5

up vote 9 down vote accepted

Idaho passed their law in 1982 and it was brought up in the Oregon legislature but failed to win enough support to be passed. California and Montana have considered adopting similar laws, but they have not yet been brought to their respective legislatures. So, in the US, it sounds like Idaho is still the only state with such a law.

Here is an an animation explaining the law: http://vimeo.com/4140910

share|improve this answer

I'm not aware of any Minnesota law that allows cyclists to treat a stop sign as "yield" (though it's common practice, and I've never heard of anyone being stopped for it if they do so in a responsible manner).

The regular vehicular law allows a vehicle to "proceed with caution" through a malfunctioning red light, and arguably a light that does not sense the presence of a bicycle is "malfunctioning". But this law would only go into effect after a cycle of the light had clearly missed the bike.

share|improve this answer

Virginia's law, mentioned by Jacob, allows for bicyclists or motorcyclists to proceed with caution through a red light after 120 seconds or two cycles of the light (presumably the latter part is intended for turn arrow signals, where the light cycles but the rider doesn't get the signal they need).

So it's less liberal than Idaho's law. The idea is to keep cyclists from being trapped at signals that only change based on a sensor in the pavement, which often can't sense bikes or motorcycles.

I don't think there is any modification to the effect of stop signs.

http://forthunt.patch.com/articles/bikes-can-run-red-lights-under-new-virginia-law-2

share|improve this answer
    
In that situation in Toronto I proceed as if it were a broken/malfunctioning traffic light (because, it's broken for me), which per the highway code means treating it like a 4-way stop sign (but more carefully because I know that motorists are still seeing green). I highly doubt I'd be arrested for doing that, but that would be my legalistic explanation/rationale in the hypothetical event that I were. –  ChrisW Aug 1 '13 at 13:50

In the UK cyclist are not allowed to go through red lights, however at some junction the safest time for a cyclist to move of when waiting in the advanced stop box at a red list is just before the light turns green. E.g after all the other “legs” have a red light and the cyclist can see that all traffic have stopped.

In is normal practise in some towns…

So a law allowing cyclists to treat a red light as a “stop” could work well, however I think the “come to a complete stop” needs to be enforced well.

We don’t have many “stop signs” in the UK, the ones we have are on junctions when you cannot see to “give way” without stopping, so in the UK I think cyclist should always stop at a “stop sign”.

In some parts of the EU, there are separate lights for cyclists at junctions that turn green a short time before the normal lights turn green, so letting all cyclists clear the junction before motor vehicles start moving. (The fact that in most of the UK the advanced stop lines for cyclists are ignored by car drivers so are worthless due to the lack of enforcement may make this pointless)

share|improve this answer
    
Just in case you weren't watching, this is being trialled in Cambridge: bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-cambridgeshire-23723866 –  Kaz Dragon Aug 22 '13 at 13:34

Utah also considered it, but several groups including a large group of experienced bicycle commuters opposed the change. The main reasons are:

  • It further designates cyclists as a "different" road user, possibly making it easier to limit our access to the roadway.
  • It has the potential of increasing the conflicts at intersections (the most dangerous area for cyclists) because cyclists can behave differently than other vehicles, and motorists may not know what to expect.

While I like maintaining momentum, and recognize that I can see further, sooner, than motorists, I believe that being predictable is more important.

share|improve this answer
3  
I'm curious (honestly, not just asking this to argue); do you actually stop (feet down or track stand) at every stop sign? And do you treat every red light as you would if you were on a car (stop, wait until it's actually green for you, and then go)? Many cyclists that I see do not behave this way; while some are jerks and just blow right through intersections, which is dangerous and rude, many will stop, wait until it's safe, and then go even if the light hasn't turned green yet, or will roll slowly up to a stop sign and then accelerate when they see that the intersection is clear. –  Brian Campbell Sep 20 '10 at 12:48
2  
I pass through two four-way stops and several four-way signals on my daily California commute. I slow as I approach stop signs but only come to a complete stop if it is not my turn. If I reach the sign going 5mph before a car reaches their sign (my turn), I go. If I see a car will beat me to the stop, I stop fully and wait my turn. I treat red signals as cars: I fully stop and never proceed until it turns green, even when there is zero traffic. Or I turn right and take a different route. :) –  David Harkness Sep 13 '12 at 20:30

Your Answer

 
discard

By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.