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?


  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.
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    This is a fantastic law, something I'd like to see here in Canada.
    – darkcanuck
    Commented Sep 18, 2010 at 20:28
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    Oregon tried but did not end up adopting the law: bikeportland.org/2009/04/20/…
    – kevins
    Commented Sep 18, 2010 at 22:01
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    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. Commented Sep 18, 2010 at 23:11
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    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?" Commented Sep 19, 2010 at 4:33
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    @Swifty Wouldn't the best approach in that case be to have a wiki answer that is maintained? It's obviously a reasonably popular question which means that people care about it...
    – DavidW
    Commented Feb 10, 2021 at 14:59

10 Answers 10


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

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    After this answer was given, Oregon passed and enacted such a law.
    – RLH
    Commented Feb 14, 2020 at 7:04
  • 1982? I lived in Idaho in '82 and have no recollection of this! Of course, I rode like this anyway. I'm not sure I always stopped at red lights, but I did, of course, slow down and proceed with caution - I understand physics and mass.
    – FreeMan
    Commented Dec 15, 2021 at 18:20

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 farther, sooner than motorists, I believe that being predictable is more important.

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    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. Commented Sep 20, 2010 at 12:48
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    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. :) Commented Sep 13, 2012 at 20:30
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    @BrianCampbell I asked a policeman that question (see this answer).
    – ChrisW
    Commented Aug 23, 2015 at 19:43
  • While I like maintaining momentum, and recognize that I can see farther, sooner than motorists, I believe that being predictable is more important. I don't feel like this is particularly relevant, because the only time you would be acting differently to a car is when there is no traffic to see you acting differently.
    – Turksarama
    Commented Dec 16, 2021 at 5:31
  • Probably depends how many stop signs. I have only one on my way in the tunnel shared by bicycles and pedestrians only. Yes, I track stand for a fraction of second there.
    – nightrider
    Commented Dec 16, 2021 at 7:55

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)

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    Just in case you weren't watching, this is being trialled in Cambridge: bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-cambridgeshire-23723866
    – Kaz Dragon
    Commented Aug 22, 2013 at 13:34
  • I cycle through that junction on the way home from work everyday. The Green light just for cyclists for a few seconds before the main green light is a great idea IMHO.
    – dumbledad
    Commented Aug 26, 2015 at 13:33

Currently the following states in the USA have stop as yield laws for bicycles: Idaho, Delaware, Colorado (opt in), Arkansas, Oregon, Washington.

The following states have legislation proposed in 2021: Virginia, New York, Colorado (making it statewide standard), California, Utah, Colorado(?)

The law sunsets in Delaware this year, but may be extended. Results there have been good.

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    Hi, welcome to bicycles! It's great to have an updated list; did you mean to list Colorado twice in the "proposed" list, or did you intend a different state like Connecticut (CT)?
    – DavidW
    Commented Feb 10, 2021 at 14:56

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.


  • 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
    Commented Aug 1, 2013 at 13:50

As of this writing, it looks like the list of states with Idaho Stop laws includes:

  • Arkansas
  • Colorado (opt-in per municipality)
  • Delaware
  • Oregon

There's a longer list of states with "Dead Red" laws that explicitly permit a cyclist to proceed through a red that won't turn green (typically because embedded induction-coil sensors don't pick up bikes), although there are inconsistencies between them.

  • No need for extra regulation on broken traffic lights that won't detect a vehicle waiting for them, imho. This can happen to car drivers as well. So, do what a car driver would do in such a situation: Wait until you are certain that the traffic light is actually broken, and then proceed using your own eyes and brains to make your passage safe. Commented Feb 14, 2020 at 19:26
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    I agree. I think those dead-red laws are redundant, but I can imagine they were passed in response to real problems (cyclists not knowing they can treat those lights as broken, or being cited by misinformed LEO when they do treat those lights as broken).
    – Adam Rice
    Commented Feb 14, 2020 at 20:42

While we do not have Idaho Rules here in Washington, there has been a push for it at times. A "dead red" law took effect for cyclists in early 2015, but that's a far cry from Idaho Rules.

"Dead Red" = a vehicle actuated light the fails to notice a bicycle, so the cyclist may proceed through the red after a pause.


Not strictly equivalent, but a different answer to the same observation: in France, Belgium and Netherlands (possibly other European countries), a special sign can be added to traffic lights to allow cyclists to (safely) ignore the red light (see below). Typically, to turn right or to go straight on T-junctions on the lane without crossing.

Signs allowing bike to ignore red traffic lights

In the idea of a “a bike is a slow and agile vehicle”: there’s also a recent concept in the traffic laws that can be translated by “integral green light”: it is a special green light (represented by a bike surrounded by 4 arrows) that allows bikes from all directions to cross at the same time. It's not generalized, though. To see it in action: https://www.ukrant.nl/hoe-overleef-ik-tegelijk-groen/ (the amount of bikes that cross is quite impressive)


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.


Washington State's Senate just passed a bill to allow this. It passed by a wide margin and should clear the house as well.


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