Hey fellow cyclists, do you come to complete stops at intersections with stop signs? I am going to guess that most of you do not, and that this is the predominant road behavior.
On October 1, 2020, the state of Washington passed a “safety stop” law that allows cyclist to roll through an intersection basically making it a yield sign. Can this work in your state? Here are my thoughts and questions on this topic.
- Allowing for this acceptable road riding behavior would appear to make bike riding less safe, which is contrary to many regional and national associations; and safety should be a primary priority for any changes.
- Makes complete sense for rural geographies.
- Cyclists have much more visibility of the roadway thus they can manage a ‘yield’.
- This will absolutely further “disturb” some motorists.
- Would there be some intersections that such a law would not apply? If so, what are those details? The geography or traffic layout conditions of our urban, suburban and rural roads might make it difficult to clearly differentiate.
- The article addressed one of my questions, “What constitutes an acceptable yield?” “Cyclists must slow down to a speed that would let them stop if necessary, but the law also lets them keep momentum if the intersection is clear.”
- A “safety stop” law would need to include eBikes.
- We often see or hear about stories on encounters between bikes and cars, what about bikes and pedestrians? The article states, “…if the intersection is clear…”, what happens when there is a pedestrian? A law would need to protect the pedestrian first and thus, by definition the intersection is not clear and the cyclist must stop.
- What about turns? The law would need to address whether yield includes left turns and straight through. Given some road layouts, such as a ‘T’ section; two lanes entering, one for left, one for right. If intersection is clear, can the cyclist occupy the left lane and roll through with a left turn?
To make this legislation many questions, would have to be addressed (we all know about our political process). All points and questions aside, if other states are doing it and it is being done informally anyway, why not go ahead and make it law? Begin by leveraging other states’ language as a template to see how concerns and issues such as those raised above could be addressed.
Let’s not yield or stop and continue to advocate for cycling and pedestrianism in all states.
Ride and walk on!