Stop signs don’t work for cyclists… true cycle-cities permit cyclists to treat stop signs as yields

Sure, cyclists don’t stop at practically all stop-controlled intersections. Most motorists don’t come to a complete stop either…

The thing is, it is desirable, normal, and natural to keep up momentum when cycling. Not surrounded by 2 000 pounds of steel, we can see all around us (no blind spots!). We can hear and be acutely aware of traffic, and we can stop on a dime.

If we misjudge the situation or make a poor behaviour choice, the damage is likely to be to us.

You see, stop signs are placed at intersections to keep two-ton vehicles from crashing into each other. One- to two-hundred-pound riders on bicycles do not need to come to a complete stop to avoid serious injury.

While stop signs are an efficient and effective way to delineate right of way for motorists, cyclists need something different – such as yield signs and pavement markings to govern cyclist behavior. This is the approach of the bicycle-friendly cities of Europe. Or… add explicit legal language to law, as Idaho (US) has done, to allow cyclists to treat stop signs as yield signs: Idaho law on bicyclists at stop signs

“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.”

To read Mia Birk’s full story at Sustainable Life, click here.

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