Greater Greater Washington

Video animates the "Idaho stop"

Oregon is considering a bill to allow the "Idaho stop", where bicyclists can proceed through stop signs without stopping completely as long as they slow down and make sure the intersection is totally clear. DC should implement a similar bill.

Via BikePortland and WashCycle.

David Alpert is the founder and editor-in-chief of Greater Greater Washington. He worked as a Product Manager for Google for six years and has lived in the Boston, San Francisco, and New York metro areas in addition to Washington, DC. He now lives with his wife and daughter in Dupont Circle. 

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No disagreement here. From an enforcement perspective it appears that the Idaho stop is already allowed for cars.

by ah on Apr 16, 2009 11:36 am • linkreport

Why adopt a bill for something that 99.9% of cyclists already do and never get in trouble for?

I'm an angry pedestrian and I'm tired of lately having as many encounters with inconsiderate cyclists on the sidewalks and roads as the same cyclists complain about having with cars.

by Adams Morgan on Apr 16, 2009 11:38 am • linkreport

you want a bill to make the idaho stop legal? fine - provided you add stiff penalties for cyclists on the sidewalks in the central business district. as a pedestrian, i've had more near-misses lately with bicyclists than i have had with cars.

by AJ on Apr 16, 2009 11:40 am • linkreport

Slate was right, Vimeo is the best thing to happen to wonky filmmakers in years.

by Reid on Apr 16, 2009 11:43 am • linkreport

AJ: That's fine with me. Cyclists shouldn't be on crowded sidewalks.

One reason many might use sidewalks is that we don't have any decent bicycle facilities downtown. When I've ridden downtown I always feel much more at risk than when I ride elsewhere where there are bike lanes and narrower side streets. Downtown, every street is a major street and they're all wide. Surely we can find one north-south route on each side (west of the White House and east) and one or two east-west routes and give a lane over to a high quality protected bicycle lane so cyclists can get downtown, be safe, and not be in the way of the rest of the traffic.

by David Alpert on Apr 16, 2009 11:46 am • linkreport

@Adams Morgan

Because:

1) For those who do get a ticket for a "rolling stop", it can be quite expensive, as a friend of mine knows.

2) For those who do follow the law to the letter, doing a foot-down complete stop at every intersection is irritating, arduous, unnecessary, and a discouragement to bicycling.

3) It can help clear up for cyclists, pedestrians, and drivers what the boundary is between safe, acceptable cycling and dangerous, illegal behavior. Bicyclists should not be penalized for safely yielding, without necessarily stopping, at intersections, while they certainly should be penalized for blowing through intersections without yielding.

by RichardatCourthouse on Apr 16, 2009 11:54 am • linkreport

I agree, Richard -- better to have clear traffic laws that are reasonably enforced than relying on police not to enforce unreasonable laws. I don't think most drivers really prefer low speed limits with knowledge that "the cops allow you to go 10 over".

by ah on Apr 16, 2009 12:05 pm • linkreport

second what DA said. Until there are decent safe bike infrastructures be preapred for the continued annoyance or rage at bikes on the sidewalk. They don't want to ride with you (pedestrains on the sidewalk). It's just the better of two bad choices. You want them off the sidewalk? Support policy for better biking infrastructure!

by Bianchi on Apr 16, 2009 12:07 pm • linkreport

I got a chuckle out of the 3:12 marker in the video. Damn few cyclists I've ever seen would come to a complete stop for one single pedestrian crossing the road. They would simply weave around that person.

by Paul S on Apr 16, 2009 12:13 pm • linkreport

Why is it called an Idaho stop? When I was growing up in Oregon we always called a rolling stop in a car a California stop, to indicate the idiocy of California transplants and their aggressive driving.

Is it simply to be different? I don't honestly know too many Idaho bicyclists.

BTW I completely agree about downtown riding. I commute to Farragut, and around there, esp down EyeStr, Pennsylvania its a lot easier and safer to drive on the sidewalk than try to weave through aggressive cabbies and SUV's. We ought to as well distinguish between bike messengers and the commuting types like me who tend to be a little more Dutch in their bicycling sensibilities.

by Boots on Apr 16, 2009 12:32 pm • linkreport

Boots: It's because it's legal in Idaho.

by David Alpert on Apr 16, 2009 12:34 pm • linkreport

Great video. We need this here, so that when DDOT's bike enforcement team gets started, they're not giving out hundreds of meaningless tickets a day.

by Justin from ReadysetDC on Apr 16, 2009 12:36 pm • linkreport

I didn't realize that, but now that you mention it I recall you posting something about Idaho. From my experience living in Idaho, its not exactly bike friendly, but that law is at least good.

BTW, this from the Fashion section of the NYT should interest folks who commute to work by bike.

http://www.nytimes.com/2009/04/16/fashion/16CODES.html?_r=1

As a commuter myself, and as someone who has ridden bikes in Holland too, I found the article fun and this quote particularly good:

“I use to think that car culture was the problem, but now I think it’s bike culture,” he said. By that he meant that the discourse about city biking is dominated by cycling zealots who don’t have the desire, or the skill, to attract people who don’t see themselves as cyclists, just as people who ride a bike to work."

When people start seeing that 'regular' folks ride, the stigma of the spandex crowd and the insane bike messengers. To see that riding a bike can be for those who don't embrace the whole subculture of bicyclists would be a good thing.

by Boots on Apr 16, 2009 1:28 pm • linkreport

DCs sidewalks are super wide downtown and there is no legitimate reason in the world why the city cannot paint off a space for cyclists to use that is away from the road and on these sidewalks. The ban on cycling is an effective ban for all who wish to cycle except for those youngish males that are not risk aversive. The primary reasons that you almost never see women , elderly, families bicycling is because we force bikers to act like cars and force them into roads where it is patently dangerous. Any fool can see this. Only the racers and athletetic cyclists bitch about being "forced by law to cycle in the bike paths"- I say- no one is stopping them from racing if they want to- and killing themselves while they are at it by collisions with cars... But it is also unfair for them to fight against bicycle infrastructure that will obviously benefit the broad majority and incentiveize safe cycling. Bicycles are not motor vehicles and should never be classed as such. Give these racers a real velodrome and give the majority who wish to cycle safely and not race dedicated, separated bike tracks away from roads and on the sidewalks as it is done in Europe.

by w on Apr 16, 2009 1:38 pm • linkreport

Cyclists on sidewalks are manageable if the bike is going the same speed as pedestrians. Any faster and a cyclist can't respond to opening building doors, customers darting out of stores, pedestrians changing directions unpredictably, etc. It's common sense. If the bike wants to go faster it should be in the street where it's safe for everybody.

by crin on Apr 16, 2009 1:42 pm • linkreport

Clearly those who are proponents of bicycles on sidewalks don't do much walking themselves. I just came back to my downtown office from lunch and the sidewalks are PACKED with people, no matter how wide they are. If you allowed bikes on these sidewalks it would create a dangerous situation for the pedestrians and cyclists.

This whole coversation is amusing in the respect that many of the pro-cycling crowd (at least those chiming in here) have the same devil may care attitude toward pedestrians on sidewalks as they like to bitch about drivers having towards cyclists.

And hey Bianchi, thanks for assuming that I don't support policy for better biking infrastructure...remember what they say when you assume something....

by Adams Morgan on Apr 16, 2009 1:55 pm • linkreport

Frankly, while I agree in theory with the rolling stop, it's not a practical solution in a heavily urban environment like DC.

The law works in Idaho because, even at its most urban (Boise), the traffic patterns and density are nothing close to that of DC and its nearby suburbs. Many areas of the District are seldom without traffic of some sort, and enabling a specific vehicular segment - the bicycle - to have "special privileges" is not an ideal solution. It stands only to alienate the cyclist as an equal-share user of the road - the ultimate goal of vehicular cycling.

Sure, the video argues the "lack of efficiency" in a stopped bicycle - fair enough. But part of the brilliance of a bicycle is its ability to stop and start efficiently: it's not that difficult to start a bicycle from a full stop, and it's still the law to come to a full stop at stop signs and traffic lights.

Additionally, many vehicular cyclists in DC (likely including previous commenters) may not fully grasp the Idaho legislation. Case in point: an oft-seen scenario in DC is a cyclist coming to a four-way stop intersection where card take up three or four of the stop positions, yet a bike rolls right through the intersection. This is *not* true to the Idaho law, which states that a cyclist may only proceed when the intersection is clear; when other traffic is present, the cyclist is required to stop.

All the adoption of the "Idaho stop" rule will do is further muddy the waters between cyclists and motorists, already a contentious relationship due to the behavior of "bad apples" in both communities. Sure, there needs to be enforcement of the laws on the books (perhaps having a properly trained and physically fit squad of bicycle cops would help in terms of enforcement), and there needs to be better education on both sides of the equation (e.g. sidewalks are for walking, bike lanes are not two-way lanes unless stipulated, et al). But adding a law that expressly favors one group and encourages potentially dangerous misinterpretation is not the right answer.

In terms of full disclosure, I am a vehicular cyclist and a staunch proponent of increased commuting via bicycle. And as a user of the road, I adhere to the laws on the books. It's not difficult to do, it doesn't slow me down on my commute, and it earns good favor with motorists - all wins, in my book.

(And, frankly speaking, starting from a full stop is excellent fitness training - another benefit of vehicular cycling.)

by Rudi on Apr 16, 2009 2:13 pm • linkreport

Rudi -- you seem to be arguing against it based on the fact that people may break the rule. As the video shows, the rule doesn't change the right of way at all--it merely no longer requires a cyclist to come to a full stop. They still have to yield when others reach the stop signs first.

As for whether full stop is okay for cyclists--no, it's not. It requires removing feet from the pedals, which is even more disruptive if one uses clipless pedals. (Other than match racers, few people practice "stopping" on a bike with the feet remaining on the pedals)

It also wastes cars' time--once I have the right of way, I have to clip back in and get up to speed before anyone else can proceed. If I rolled through the stop (on my turn), any cars arriving after me could proceed sooner.

by ah on Apr 16, 2009 2:37 pm • linkreport

When people start seeing that 'regular' folks ride, the stigma of the spandex crowd and the insane bike messengers. To see that riding a bike can be for those who don't embrace the whole subculture of bicyclists would be a good thing.

couldnt agree more, boots, about the biker crowd. in portland you see them all wearing their spandex, helmets indoors and walking around in their biker shoes with clips on them. this just creates a small insular group of biking zealots who try to out do each other for who can be more "biker." the biker dress code tells you who is a "biker" and who is not. i really think the "biker crowd" in portland does more harm to the bicycle movement than anyone else, they need to paint themselves out as mainstream not fringe.

secondly bikers arent going to win anyone over onto bikes without quality bicycle infrastructure... cycle tracks, off street paths bike signals, bollard protected, on-street bike parking, etc. focus the money on building the best bike infrastructure possible that is carefully planned with safety and rider comfort in mind on a few key corridors. start with the 1 or 2 busiest bike routes in the city now and grow from there. forget the worthless painted bike lanes on every street with no thought given to their placement.

by jon on Apr 16, 2009 2:52 pm • linkreport

Jon you are SOOOOO right.

I will not be happy until we no longer see these spandex warriors and vehicular /sucuidal cyclists and I can cycle to work in my regular work clothes and get my groceries on my cargo bike w/o being stigmatized by these maniacs- who -incidentally- are almost all males below 40 years of age.

http://www.ibiketo.ca/blog/2007/11/22/cyclists-dont-buy-vehicular-cycling

It is clear from research and experience done all over the world that practical cycling is best when separated facilities are given. Our cyclists here in the USA are influenced by macho sports culture and the automobile infatuation with speed over safety and comfort.

The era of vehicular cycling and moronic fascists like John Forester is coming to a close.

And - yes- he IS a fascist- because he wants EVERYONE to do as he does- and doesnt want "inexperienced cyclists " to be riding out there- He wants it all for himself and his racing cronies. He doesn't seem to care that this is life threatening to anyone who is not a well-conditioned superior athlete - it excludes just about everyone who is not part of his self-declared master racer culture of maniacs.

by w on Apr 16, 2009 3:05 pm • linkreport

as a user of the road, I adhere to the laws on the books.

You never drive even one mile per hour over the speed limit?

by tt on Apr 16, 2009 3:05 pm • linkreport

Adams Morgan, I didn't assume anything. I was commenting on a general principle. Sorry you misinterpreted me so. I used the plural "you" which admittedly in English causes a lot of confusion, such as in this instance. i guess it's a hazard of this type of communication with no voice intonation, facial expressions or body language.

by Bianchi on Apr 16, 2009 3:15 pm • linkreport

@ah -- As a person who commutes every day on a bike with clipless pedals, I find our argument not to hold water: if properly calibrated, these pedals are no more difficult to enter and exit than flat, platform pedals. And while trackstands are often practiced by those with clipless setups (primarily by those who ride fixed-gear bikes, where the fixed drivetrain makes such moves far easier), it's not difficult to clip out and clip in from most clipless systems. FYI: I use both SPD and SPD-SL systems - both easy-use MTB and more racing-focused road setups - and neither is difficult to engage or disengage.

As to how many times this has wastes a motorist's time, it doesn't really matter: as a user of the road, properly occupying my lane, there is no time limit to getting underway, so long as it's safe. Motorists are just as likely to take their time to get going, given the distractions many deal with during their commutes (e.g. cell phones, children, conversations with passengers, map and street sign reading, etc.). Is it more convenient to all to get moving promptly? Sure, but it's not a requirement - safety is paramount.

And while the rule technically won't change the right-of-way, it will open up a rather muddy interpretation of right-of-way when it comes to occupied intersections. Already, many cyclists will whiz through fully occupied intersections (gotta remain efficient, after all), and giving them any kind of excuse is asking for tons of legal wrangling when an accident occurs.

Again, DC is not Boise, which is still a rather uncongested city compared to DC, with far fewer traffic issues. If DC were a large state, with rural areas and intersections between lonely roads a reality, then the "Idaho stop" law might make sense. But in the case of our city, in my view, it's not the best approach to sensible vehicular cycling.

by Rudi on Apr 16, 2009 3:17 pm • linkreport

Correction to my last comment: in previous first line: "our" = "your", as in "I find your argument...."

by Rudi on Apr 16, 2009 3:18 pm • linkreport

Adams Morgan again, I was seconding DA's comment that was a response to AJ anyway. But I wasn't really directing my comment at AJ either, just the idea generally that sometimes bikers use the sidewalk b/c it's the best of two bad options when there's no biking iinfrastructure.

by Bianchi on Apr 16, 2009 3:19 pm • linkreport

Adams Morgan, Isn't this an assumption? And a pretty inflamatory one at that? "Clearly those who are proponents of bicycles on sidewalks don't do much walking themselves. ...many of the pro-cycling crowd (at least those chiming in here) have the same devil may care attitude toward pedestrians on sidewalks as they like to bitch about drivers having towards cyclists.

they say when you assume something...."

by Bianchi on Apr 16, 2009 3:28 pm • linkreport

I always respect pedestrians when cycling on downtown DC sidewalks

I have also noticed that the racer elite do not or seldom have bells to warn or alert pedestrians.

I will continue to cycle on DC's sidewalks until the city figures out that it is the only way to have safe cycling.

Has anyone noticed that the segway tour companies are allowed to use downtown DC's sidewalks while cycling is prohibited?

Clearly they understand that the majority of sane people are unwilling to trade in their lives and safety for some racing /athletic cyclist's utopian vision of how the world should be.If they are allowed to use the sidewalks- why not regular- non-racer type bicyclists who are just carrying home groceries or putting along ?

In the future- there will have to be separated cycling tracks- it is the only way to safely accomodate all kinds of cyclists- and make it safe for pedestrians as well.

by w on Apr 16, 2009 4:04 pm • linkreport

Yeah, as if car drivers aren't confused as it is...

Wouldn't it be great to have recurring regional PSAs that foster good relations between all road users first and then work on loosing things up?

Would an Idaho law be sensible in central NYC, SF or DC-- what are the similar conditions? Does the Idaho law actually make public road use safer, users more responsible for their actions? Isn't it a good thing to have uniform traffic laws? Could we also allow motorcycles and mopeds (mopeds can use bike lanes in DC) to Idaho stop? Will this later apply to traffic signals as well, red is really yellow, yellow is green and green is whatever? Will it become illegal for cyclists to stop or slow down at stop signs, or even more dangerous to do so than now (danger from overtaking cyclists)?

What I'd like to see is some really beneficial legislative and law enforcement work being done for bicyclists (instead of copy cat antics)-- for instance, have you seen the contributory negligence laws here in DC? You give up your hairs width of legal protection for just having a red reflector fall off your bike!

by fyi on Apr 17, 2009 1:44 am • linkreport

The "Idaho Stop" is basically how I ride today.

However, I found that it helps drivers a lot if you give them a hand signal that shows you intend to stop for them at a stop sign. After all, if they arrived at a four-way stop first, they have the right of way. There are enough unsafe bikers out there that many of the drivers I encounter reasonably expect me to blow through a stop sign, and giving them the "go ahead" signal makes sure they know they're OK to proceed as if I'm a car.

Sometimes it happens that we get into the "no, after you" game, and to save confusion I usually just go after it's offered by a driver.

This seems to work for my short ride down 7th street SE, which is a low-density residential corridor with four-way stops at almost every intersection.

by Michael Perkins on Apr 17, 2009 6:33 am • linkreport

How about we just replace all these annoying stop-signs with yield signs and then educate car drivers on what it really means to yield.

by Jasper on Apr 17, 2009 12:37 pm • linkreport

@Rudi

Your concern with the Idaho stop seem to be the following:

"It stands only to alienate the cyclist as an equal-share user of the road - the ultimate goal of vehicular cycling."

"All the adoption of the "Idaho stop" rule will do is further muddy the waters between cyclists and motorists, already a contentious relationship due to the behavior of "bad apples" in both communities. But adding a law that expressly favors one group and encourages potentially dangerous misinterpretation is not the right answer."

I disagree with the premise that making separate laws for cyclists "mudd[ies] the water" or that the only way for cyclists to be "equal-share user of the road" is to follow the same laws as drivers. Cyclists already follow different laws from drivers (I could make a list, but will "assume" I don't need to). Stop sign and stop light rules were written for cars and to address problems unique to cars. It makes only slightly more sense to require cyclists to follow these laws in the same way as drivers as it does to require cyclists to wear seatbelts.

This law decriminalizes standard cycling behavior and removes one of the big sources of contention between cyclists and drivers, namely that cyclists don't follow the law the way drivers do (which is a totally unfair claim, btw).

If trapping cyclists into the laws that drivers need to follow is the ultimate goal of vehicular cycling, then I suppose that I'm not a vehicular cyclist.

by Washcycle on Apr 18, 2009 5:38 pm • linkreport

Why adopt a bill for something that 99.9% of cyclists already do and never get in trouble for?

I'm an angry pedestrian and I'm tired of lately having as many encounters with inconsiderate cyclists on the sidewalks and roads as the same cyclists complain about having with cars.

by Adams Morgan on Apr 16, 2009

Getting cited by the police - yes, it happens - for not coming to a complete stop at a stop sign is ridiculous and the result is that a cyclist might ride on the sidewalk in order to ride with as few stops as possible. Most bike riders (no, not all) ride intelligently in DC, and are mindful of peds in the street, but on the sidewalk, to me they are the biggest menace.

by Jazzy on Apr 19, 2009 11:48 am • linkreport

I always respect pedestrians when cycling on downtown DC sidewalks

I have also noticed that the racer elite do not or seldom have bells to warn or alert pedestrians.

I will continue to cycle on DC's sidewalks until the city figures out that it is the only way to have safe cycling.

Has anyone noticed that the segway tour companies are allowed to use downtown DC's sidewalks while cycling is prohibited?

Clearly they understand that the majority of sane people are unwilling to trade in their lives and safety for some racing /athletic cyclist's utopian vision of how the world should be.If they are allowed to use the sidewalks- why not regular- non-racer type bicyclists who are just carrying home groceries or putting along ?

In the future- there will have to be separated cycling tracks- it is the only way to safely accomodate all kinds of cyclists- and make it safe for pedestrians as well.

by w on Apr 16, 2009 4:04 pm

I always respect pedestrians when cycling on downtown DC sidewalks

That's nice. But, you can't always control what pedestrians do. If a pedestrian runs into another moving pedestrian, unpleasantness, perhaps. If a pedestrian runs into or turns into a moving bike, something more indeed. It seems you are taking your anger at cars and becoming the car of the sidewalk.

I will continue to cycle on DC's sidewalks until the city figures out that it is the only way to have safe cycling.

Will this day ever come? Unlikely. Meantime, you can always learn a lot more to improve the way you can ride safely in the streets. Or, you can continue to endanger pedestrians.

There will always be risk to you when riding in the streets, just as there's risk for pedestrians when crossing the streets, and risk to cars when driving in the streets.

by Jazzy on Apr 19, 2009 12:11 pm • linkreport

washcycle-

I don't think that "decriminalizes standard cycling behavior and removing one of the big sources of contention between cyclists and drivers, namely that cyclists don't follow the law the way drivers do" is really the purpose of vehicular laws. I also do not think that soothing relations between vehicular types is a good enough reason to change/make law. I think laws should actually maintain safety and order. How does the Idaho law support this purpose, does it make intersections safer (where 70% of car-bike crashes occur)?

w-

sidewalks are made for walking (design speed) not for bicycling, they are crowded in certain places and have more conflicting and 'blind' intersections (driveways and alleys) than streets do. DC recognizes this and disallows sidewalk cycling in the CBD.

by fyi on Apr 20, 2009 9:02 pm • linkreport

fyi, I think you're looking at it backwards. I don't have to prove that the Idaho stop law makes intersections safer, you have to prove it makes them more dangerous. If you want to add in controls (which is what stop signs do) and make laws it is on that person to prove that the law is beneficial. My argument is not that it makes people safer but that safety isn't changed by either situation, so why not make things easier?

Mark McNeese, the Bicycle / Pedestrian Coordinator with the Idaho Transportation Department said "I have been called and emailed by many folks around the country asking questions about Idaho’s law. The questions take a logical course but always end with the REAL question—how many cyclists get injured because they don’t stop at stop signs? My answer is always the same, NONE. The stop sign indicates to the cyclist (and motorist too)”you have no right-of-way here, so yield to other vehicles.” To the motorist it also says “stop.” Not properly yielding the right-of-way is what causes crashes. Please understand that the stop sign law gives no new right-of-way privileges to bicyclists. A cyclist who fails to yield the right-of-way and causes a crash is at fault."

So if there is no reduction in safety, why not allow it.

by Washcycle on Apr 20, 2009 9:47 pm • linkreport

@fyi --for laws to be effective, they require compliance. If the Idaho stop increases the likelihood of compliance, it will mean the right-of-way laws at stops are more effective. My expectation is that the Idaho stop will increase compliance with stop signs by cyclists. Yours apparently is that it will not.

by ah on Apr 20, 2009 10:25 pm • linkreport

Right, road users who fail to yield the right-of-way and cause a crash is at fault. This is the problem we have now, whether red light or stop sign, this is what makes intersections more complex. How does your new control (stop signs were here first) help? In particular, do you have examples on how well this new law would improve intersection with only two way stops and right of way cross traffic?

Besides all of this, during peak use hours when we will have the majority of bicycle users on roads, there will rarely be an opportunity when yielding right of way will not apply. This law would 'benefit' such a small population of off peak users (in major metropolitan areas)that it hardly seems worth the ink.

by fyi on Apr 20, 2009 10:31 pm • linkreport

wash-

If there is no improvement in safety, why allow it.

ah-

Apparently the Idaho law's purpose has nothing to do with improving right of way compliance, since right of way rules remains in place. How will the Idaho law increase compliance? On what information does your expectation rest?

by fyi on Apr 20, 2009 10:38 pm • linkreport

fyi, because there is an increase in compliance and convenience. If there is an increase in compliance and convenience but no decrease in safety, why disallow it?

by Washcycle on Apr 20, 2009 10:54 pm • linkreport

wash-

you say there is proof? Where? Has Idaho shown an increase in compliance? Do youth bicyclists have a greater rate of right of way compliance (this group is over represented in crash statistics in DC, VA and Maryland because they fail to yield right of way)?

The convenience issue is moot in the face of public safety.

Also, are we considering the red light version of the Idaho law or just the stop sign version?

by fyi on Apr 20, 2009 11:11 pm • linkreport

Please remember, as you advocate for a law from Idaho or Oregon to be implemented in DC that there is a different legislative environment here. It might be more beneficial for bicyclists in DC to have strong advocates for changing the contributory negligence laws to be more (bicycle) friendly. All other safe bicycling issues are drafting in the wake of this 800 pound gorilla.

by fyi on Apr 20, 2009 11:24 pm • linkreport

I didn't really say there was proof, but I do think Idaho's DDOT empirically believes it has not reduced safety. Jason Meggs a UC-Berkeley researcher is doing a comprehensive safety study but he's only done with the preliminary results (which show a marginal INCREASE in safety).

By compliance, I met compliance with stop sign law. If usual cyclist behavior becomes legal, then it is reasonable to believe that cyclists will break the law less often.

As I recall, children over-represent because they're hit by cars turning into driveways as they ride on the sidewalk. But assuming your right, no I don't have proof that it has changed children's behavior for the better. Nor is there evidence that it has changed children's behavior for the worst (again, the evidence from Idaho is that safety has not been impacted by this). Changing children's behavior is not the goal.

DC is only considering the stop sign portion, but I'm talking about both.

Again, if this law doesn't reduce safety and makes cycling easier why should it be opposed?

I agree contrib needs to be fixed. I'm talking about ideals not the opportunity costs of political realities. I'm not familiar enough with the legislative environment to know if this is an either/or choice. I prefer to look at them as a this and that situation.

by Washcycle on Apr 21, 2009 8:53 am • linkreport

There also seems to be a convenience argument that really is the heart of this Oregonian style non-stop law; that stopping at a stop sign when no one is around to see (and thus no one to yield ROW to) is really inconvenient or inefficient for bicyclists.

During what hour of the day would I have to bicycle on DC's streets for this to benefit me? 2 am?

Under this non-stop law during peak hours bicyclists will still be required to yield ROW, come to near 0 mph and wait for the first of a long line of vehicles to clear the intersection (or in the case of a signalized intersection- wait for green), so where is the benefit, how much convenience has been gained, how much efficiency maintained? Will this law shave off 2 or 3 minutes from a commute or require a hundred calories less of sustenance?

Speaking of efficiency-- this law would still require automobiles to stop which really is inefficient. Although, maybe hybrids could be allowed to also fall under a non-stop law. Traffic circles anyone?

The goal here should be to actively encourage bicycling as an efficient mode of transport by incentivizing it with tax breaks, convenient facilities, public awareness, fair share of funding for alternative transportation users and protective laws-- but nuanced shades of stop vs. yielding ROW laws for certain vehicles unable to reach speeds greater that 35 mph (I'm assuming the segway and moped groups will want in on the non-stop law too) might be lost on the least vulnerable users.

by fyi on Apr 21, 2009 11:12 pm • linkreport

fyi,

1) There are many, many times that I come to intersections with a four-way stop and no other traffic. DC is much more than downtown. Perhaps your experience is different, but most cyclists I've spoken with agree that this would often benefit them without having to bike at 2am. Maybe you're just arguing to be contrary or maybe you've never really ridden a bike in DC.

2) The law would not be a good fit for cars (hybrid or otherwise) for the reasons already stated in this chain. Namely a driver is farther back, lower down, inside a sound proof booth and in a less maneuverable vehicle. I'm not sure Segways are allowed on the road. I don't know enough about what moped activists want and I don't care.

3)I agree with all of your goals, but if your argument against it is that we should pass other laws instead, well then how far up can you go with that. You think the contrib law should be done first. Someone else may think gay marriage is more important, so we should do that first. Another person might think saving the Bay is more important so let's do that first. But legislation is not done in series. It's done in parallel. The contrib law change is working it's way through the BAC legislative committee. So is the 'safe stopping act.' So we can do both at the same time.

4) I earlier conceded the safety point because I can't prove that this is safer, but the Meggs study I mentioned above seems to indicate that it is, and I have other reasons to believe so. Bikes are different than cars in that, at slow speeds they lose stability. [Am I the only cyclist to fall down because I couldn't unclip my shoes fast enough?] A moving bike is also easier to maneuver.

5. Furthermore, low efficiency for cyclists can dissuade people from riding. The same is not true for drivers. As more people ride it has been shown that safety improves. So this law may encourage people to ride and that should improve safety.

I think the arguments for the law change are better than the arguments you've listed against it (confusing, won't help many, we should change other laws first)

by David C on Apr 22, 2009 9:09 am • linkreport

Yes, David--that's my experience as well. I don't see too many stop signs on major commuter routes. Most of them are either in neighborhoods outside of downtown or on side streets downtown. On side streets, a change is at worst a wash. In neighborhoods there's typically very little traffic at most times of the day (including weekends). Those are the annoying stop signs--ride through any neighborhood and the "grid" system may require 4 or 5 stops before you get to a major road or bike path. If it's a stop sign to, say, get across Conn. ave., well, so be it, the Idaho stop rule would change nothing in practice, but at least I haven't wasted as much time at the 5 stop signs before I get there.

by ah on Apr 22, 2009 9:39 am • linkreport

wash-

In DC Segways and mopeds are currently allowed use of bicycle lanes!

Probably DC law is done in a mixture of series and parallel. If you can achieve passing both of these laws together (non-stop law and changing contributory negligence) then great, go for it-- the contributory negligence gains will outweigh the non-stop public confusion. Contributory negligence laws in DC are philistine and they directly affect the protection of people who ride bicycles-- whether or not some one is married or registered as a domestic partner only has a distant relationship to bicycling (I'm thinking medical benefits). We can leave this for now if you wish...

Again, do your feasibility study for this non-stop law (I'll be asking for it during the hearing) and its applicability to metropolitan areas. Why haven't DC bicyclists thought to put this forward before-- its been around since the eighties (and hardly anything has changed since then, right)?

Just for fun let's dig into the legislation. How will DC write it up? How will "slow to a reasonable speed" be interpreted by road users and enforcers (think contributory negligence here)? What is your reasonable speed? What is Taylor Phinney's reasonable speed?

Stopping is a way to help assign who has the right of way to proceed. Check this out, under a non-stop law, does a cyclist need to even pause when approaching a 4 way stop with one vehicle on the left and/or one across the intersection-- wouldn't ROW dictate that the cyclist has ROW and can continue without pausing? Is this confusing? How about one way streets (you may have noticed one or two in DC)-- do cyclists need to slow at these two or three way stops if they are approaching from a direction where ROW dictates that the cyclist's placement has ROW? Roll on through, right? My concern is not in DC's 'rural hinterland'-- read the DDOT bicycle crash report, focus on high crash intersections (this is also where most bicycle trips occur) and let me know how the non-stop law helps out there. Does it clear the current conflicts or further confound?

A cyclist non-stop law is confusing in a major metropolitan city, cyclist efficiency is not noticeably improved and safety in high crash intersections is not improved.

FYI-

Boise, ID population: 202,832; metro: 587,689

DC population: 591,833 (1 million during workweek); metro: 5.3 million

Why are you trying to convince people that this non-stop law would make bicycling more efficient-- it already is a very efficient and noble means of transport!

by fyi on Apr 22, 2009 10:37 pm • linkreport

FYI, I have to admire your gumption. You are hell bent on finding a flaw with the Idaho stop (or non-stop as you call it) law. But you’re going to have to keep looking because you haven’t found it yet.

You start out by screaming that Segways and mopeds are allowed to use bike lanes. I'll infer that your point is that if we allow bikes to utilize a non-stop law we'll have to allow it for Segways and mopeds. That is faulty logic.

The legislature is not required to follow precedent the way the judicial branch is. So they can allow bikes to follow one set and mopeds another and Segways still another. For example bikes can ride on the sidewalk in most parts of the city and can be operated by people of all ages. Segways can ride on the sidewalk in most parts of the city, but are limited to those 16 and older. Mopeds are not allowed on the sidewalk. There is no reason that such differentiation can not continue.

By pointing out the ways bicycles are different from Mopeds and Segways (slower, something the District wants to encourage, etc...) the District could reasonably do so. I, for one, would have no problem applying the law to Segways, but it is something of a red herring and my point is that there is no slippery slope here.

The contributory negligence gains will outweigh the non-stop public confusion

Do you have any evidence that this will result in “non-stop public confusion”. It hasn’t in Idaho. Are people in Idaho less easily confused than people in D.C. And before you say that Idaho is only one datum and that it isn’t analogous to D.C. (see below) let me point out that it’s one datum more than you have. [Really it’s much more than one datum]

Do your feasibility study for this non-stop law (I'll be asking for it during the hearing) and its applicability to metropolitan areas.

Does every change in law require a 'feasibility study'? Was one required before removing the mandatory bike registration? Or requiring a three-foot minimum passing distance? Or upgrading the safety features on all D.C. trucks? I'll answer that, no.

Is your argument really one of bureaucratic hoops to be jumped through? I assure you that if we are only feasibility study away from passing the law, then we are only a few months away.

Why haven't DC bicyclists thought to put this forward before-- its been around since the eighties (and hardly anything has changed since then, right)?

I was unaware that good ideas have expiration dates. I'm not sure the answer matters as to why. Suffice it to say that some are asking for it now.

Just for fun let's dig into the legislation. How will DC write it up? How will "slow to a reasonable speed" be interpreted by road users and enforcers (think contributory negligence here)? What is your reasonable speed? What is Taylor Phinney's reasonable speed?

Here's how Arizona did it

The driver of a vehicle approaching a yield sign and any person riding a bicycle approaching a yield sign or a stop sign shall slow down in obedience to the sign to a speed reasonable for the existing conditions and 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 driver or bicycle rider is moving across or within the intersection. If after driving or riding past a yield sign or stop sign without stopping the driver or bicycle rider is involved in a collision in the intersection, the collision is prima facie evidence of the driver's or bicycle rider's failure to yield the right of way.

DC's law is not yet written.

Slow to a reasonable speed will be interpreted in the exact same way that it is for yield signs now. We're not creating a new animal here.

A reasonable speed is that which allows for a cyclist to determine who has the right of way and yield it as needed, that will be as true for you and I as it is for Taylor Phinney.

Stopping is a way to help assign who has the right of way to proceed. Check this out, under a non-stop law, does a cyclist need to even pause when approaching a 4 way stop with one vehicle on the left and/or one across the intersection-

Yes, they would have to pause. Cyclists will have to slow down for every stop sign.

- wouldn't ROW dictate that the cyclist has ROW and can continue without pausing?

No, the cyclist would not have the ROW

Is this confusing?

No, not really.

How about one way streets (you may have noticed one or two in DC)-- do cyclists need to slow at these two or three way stops if they are approaching from a direction where ROW dictates that the cyclist's placement has ROW?

I’m unclear how the cyclist’s placement has ROW, but – as stated above - cyclists need to slow down for every single stop sign; so, yes, they would need to slow for this one too.

Roll on through, right?

Wrong. Again, they must slow for every single stop sign.

My concern is not in DC's 'rural hinterland'-- read the DDOT bicycle crash report, focus on high crash intersections (this is also where most bicycle trips occur) and let me know how the non-stop law helps out there. Does it clear the current conflicts or further confound?

Based on the evidence at hand, probably neither. Again, this is less of a safety feature – since the research is incomplete – and more about making cycling easier and faster. Most of the intersections you refer to, from the crash report, are busy and this law will still require cyclists to stop at busy intersections (and also it doesn’t change red light behavior at all).

A cyclist non-stop law is confusing in a major metropolitan city, cyclist efficiency is not noticeably improved and safety in high crash intersections is not improved.

There is no proof that it’s confusing. Again, the only proof available is that it’s not confusing. If you’re going to demand proof then so can I. Do you have any proof that it’s confusing in a major metropolitan city?

You’re definition of noticeably may be different from mine. But let’s try an experiment shall we. We’ll map out a five mile route with several stop signs. I’ll ride using the Idaho stop and you can ride putting your foot down at each stop sign and we’ll see who gets to the end first and how much time is saved. (We’ll have to account for average cycling speed, but that shouldn’t be too hard).

FYI-

Boise, ID population: 202,832; metro: 587,689

DC population: 591,833 (1 million during workweek); metro: 5.3 million

Thanks, my Google is broken.

Again, you aren't really stating a point, but I'll infer that you're saying that whatever safety changes (slightly improved) Idaho has seen is not analogous because Idaho is SOOOO different from DC. If this were really so confusing – so much so that it causes ‘non-stop confusion’ – don’t you think Idaho would have seen some drop in safety? Idaho is different but they aren’t riding yaks or flying jetpacks. What is so different about Idaho intersections that makes this work there, but will prevent it from working here? What’s so different about the people of Idaho that they don’t suffer from non-stop confusion but we in D.C. would?

Even if I concede that it’s not 100% comparable, it has to be more than 0%. I suspect much more.

And where would be 100% comparable? New York? Too big. Portland? Too bike friendly. Baltimore? Too Marylandy. Nowhere is going to be perfectly identical. And if Idaho isn't identical to anywhere, and proof that it works is needed, then it can't be tried anywhere, right?

Your argument is really one against innovation. If you can’t do anything that hasn’t been successfully demonstrated in several places, then you can’t try anything new because there is no one to go first.

Why are you trying to convince people that this non-stop law would make bicycling more efficient-- it already is a very efficient and noble means of transport!

Because the non-stop law would make bicycling more efficient! (see, I can scream too) Is there a maximum amount of allowable efficiency? If cycling were more efficient, more people would do it, right? And I think if more people bicycle, then everyone wins. Additionally, I bike and I’d like to be able to do it as efficiently as possible.

Why are you trying to convince people that cycling shouldn’t be any more efficient or that people in Idaho are smarter than people in D.C.?

by washcycle on Apr 27, 2009 12:10 am • linkreport

Wash-

This is where the faulty logic lies-- vis a vis your red herring:

"If cycling were more efficient, more people would do it, right?"

Apparently not, they haven't yet. This is not really that innovative and it won't draw the kinds of numbers you need to "make everyone win". I.e. it won't change behavior in the way you say-- except, of course "If usual cyclist behavior becomes legal, then it is reasonable to believe that cyclists will break the law less often", which really isn't behavior change, but changing rules to fit behavior.

Perhaps I am confused. I thought you were defending this proposed law because it would increase compliance with ROW yielding, encourage (non)cyclists to cycle more or at all and to ease the exertion of cycling.

I don't think that this law will do what you say; however, actual behavior change, through public education pieces and other infrastructure improvements will. Why waste our time with something that doesn't make any noticeable improvements or deficiencies. I guess we could allow it, but why?

by fyi on Apr 27, 2009 10:02 pm • linkreport

Oh, I forgot, your answer is "why not".

by fyi on Apr 27, 2009 10:07 pm • linkreport

Fyi, fair enough I haven't yet made a case for the Idaho stop and up until now have been defending it. Part of what you said "I thought you were defending this proposed law because it would increase compliance with ROW yielding, encourage (non)cyclists to cycle more or at all and to ease the exertion of cycling." is correct and that this will, to some extent, change rules to fit behavior. But this is based on the evidence that this behavior is both rational and safe.

Here's what I think it will do.

1. For cyclists who already bike as though the Idaho stop were the law, it would remove the risk of getting a ticket. Cyclists are often ticketed for this kind of behavior so it is a real risk.

2. For cyclists who comply with the current law (even if it's only when a police car is near) it will remove the need to stop unnecessarily thereby making cycling more efficient for them.

3. The perception of the general public of cyclists as scofflaws is a great detriment to the greater good of cycling. By changing a frequently broken, and unnecessary law, this could change that perception for the better.

4. As someone in Oregon said, "If you think riding behind a cyclist who's running stop signs is annoying, wait until you ride behind one who stops at every sign." This law would help drivers by allowing cyclist to keep moving and reducing congestion. This in turn could help reduce bike-car conflicts and reduce animosity towards cyclists.

5. If cycling is x% more efficient, it is logical to believe that it will result in some proportional increase in cycling. Despite your assertion that it is apparently not true, there is a great deal of evidence that it is. Each time new trails or connections are made - making cycling more efficient - there is a commensurate increase in cycling. Already I've heard people saying that with the Shirlington underpass usable (which shaves about 10 minutes off a commute) they or someone they know has started bike commuting.

6. I suspect, though the evidence is yet to be gathered, that the Idaho stop makes things slightly safer because a moving bike is more maneuverable, a moving bike spends less time in intersections and in the stream of cars and because when more people bike there are fewer bike/car collisions per capita.

While I agree that we have other fish to fry(contrib, education, facilities), perhaps even bigger ones, I don't think that precludes us from frying this one. We have many pans.

And I think the things it gains us (above) are worth the investment in time. I guess it depends on how hard you think it will be to change the law. I don't think it will be that difficult.

by washcycle on Apr 28, 2009 9:44 am • linkreport

I was unaware that it is either legal or safe to operate a vehicle in a construction zone (Shirlington underpass).

As for your Portland friend, the annoyance isn't riding/driving behind a cyclist who run stop signs (fails to yield), it's when they do so at right angles to other vehicles and endanger public safety.

Your Portland friend also might like to know that in DC we have an insufficient Bicycle Safety Enhancement Law that while requiring a safe passing distance of not less than three feet for operators of motor vehicles, it did nothing additional to account for non-motorized vehicles overtaking bicycles.

Perhaps there should also be a new law and fine for non-motorized vehicles passing too closely or unsafely to bicycles. We could use the $25 fine for bicycle failure to stop at control device and apply it here.

Wait, if we had a three foot passing distance for non-motorized vehicles overtaking bicycles then certain multi-use paths would have to be widened to allow for safe passage... And what about a three foot passing distance for bicycles overtaking pedestrians?

I apologize, I think I may be straying from the confines of this particular blog's subject.

by fyi on Apr 29, 2009 10:07 am • linkreport

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