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BTA: Media fallout has put Idaho Stop effort in jeopardy

Posted by on March 19th, 2009 at 4:03 pm

salmon street stop sign
(Photo © J. Maus)

Karl Rohde, the BTA lobbyist who is working on a bill in Salem that would allow bicycles to treat stop signs as yields (known as the “Idaho Stop law”), tells us that the fate of the bill hangs in the balance. (The bill received its first committee hearing yesterday).

According to Rohde — who called me from Salem with this update — several legislators have informed him that HB 2690 is in jeopardy because their constituents are expressing opposition to the bill after several negative and/or inaccurate news reports have come out since yesterday. Those media stories have stoked a wave of concerned calls and emails to legislator’s offices.

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Rohde says AM radio talk show host Lars Larson mentioned the bill on his show yesterday and it received a largely negative response. Rohde — who is a frequent guest on Larson’s show — said Larson, “didn’t bother to call to let me explain the bill”. Rohde is scheduled to be on the show tomorrow, but Larson’s coverage yesterday apparently triggered a number of calls and emails to Salem in opposition to the idea.

In addition to the Lars Larson Show, The Oregonian published a highly biased news report on the bill in their newspaper yesterday. Adding to the BTA’s trouble was an inaccurate report by KATU-TV that said the bill would allow bikes to roll through both stop signs and stop lights.

The BTA’s bill has never included stop lights and, after Rohde contacted them, KATU corrected their story. However, KATU’s sister station in Eugene, KVAL, ran the uncorrected version throughout the day (both KATU and KVAL have edited their stories to say “flashing red lights” instead of stop lights).

At this point, Rohde said he is weighing various strategies to counter this negative tide. His concern, as relayed to me today, is that the court of public opinion is weighing in based on incorrect information.

Rohde says he’s working hard to meet with legislators individually to get their support of the bill but that it’s “very important that they hear from constituents directly.”

The bill was heard in committee yesterday but was not voted on. To move on, it must first muster 6 votes in the House Transportation Committee, a hurdle that is still very likely. However, getting a bill out of committee is the easy part. At committee, supporters like Rohde can rely on expert testimony and they have the luxury of answering questions from legislators. However, once the bill gets to onto the floor of the 60-member House, it’s a whole different ball game.

This seems like a critical moment for the bill, especially if legislators continue to hear more opposition than support.

— Browse full coverage of this story at the Idaho Stop law tag.

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Comments
  • Stig March 19, 2009 at 4:31 pm

    I ‘effectively stop’ at stop lights- just enough motion to maintain balance and I probably stay in the footprint of a stationary car for about 2 seconds. Technically I roll through (only when clear) but I’ve done this right in front of police cars at least twice and never been pulled over. I don’t want to stop completely and unclip but I am always prepared to.

    I support this bill as it makes safe behavior legal, but it’s also reinforcing the perhaps accurate one rule for ‘us’ and another for ‘them’. Maybe just replace the stop signs with yield signs where appropriate. Problem solved- no ‘preferential treatment’ to any mode of transport.

    If I had been cited by the police before I’m sure I’d feel differently, but I’d rather the BTA focus on the right-hook problem. Safety should be higher on the BTA’s agenda than convenience.

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  • Stig March 19, 2009 at 4:35 pm

    I ‘effectively stop’ at stop SIGNS, that should have read. Stop lights I’m much more strict about!

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  • TDawg March 19, 2009 at 4:37 pm

    Every non-biker that I have talked to has been extremely negative about this bill. This was well before any of the recent coverage, and this was with a full understanding of what this bill entailed. I think the bike community needs to understand that people can be smart, intelligent, pro-bike, well read, and still be opposed to this bill.

    The fact that SO many people from locals, to drivers, to media outlets, to politicians are confused about this show just how confusing it has the potential to be. Even if every politicians reads the bill line for line, the majority of drivers are not, and the confusion will remain. Instead of blaming the media for the current perception to this bill, look at why people are expressing confusion: 2 sets of rules on 1 road.

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  • Dana March 19, 2009 at 4:45 pm

    I know people that think the law will allow cyclists to “blow” through stop signs with no consequence… as it was seemingly reported in the Oregonian. Under this reasoning, they are against the idea.

    There needs to be a front page article in the Oregonian that explains exactly what the law says, what it will allow cyclists to do (in an easy to understand way), and why this law would be beneficial.

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  • TDawg March 19, 2009 at 4:48 pm

    I think it’s erroneous to assume that non-bikers would be for the legislation if the ready every last detail. Many of my friends consider ‘not stopping’ as ‘blowing through’. It seems that only the local bike community considers a difference between the two.

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  • Bjorn March 19, 2009 at 4:58 pm

    A big part of the problem is that these inaccurate stories have caused a bunch of fear that people will be injured because cyclists will suddenly be flying through stoplights at 25 mph. Obviously this is neither what the bill permits nor what will happen if the law is changed.

    Many of the stop signs that will be most effected by this law (you know the ones on streets where there is little traffic and therefore usually nothing the cyclist would need to yield too) were put up to prevent motorists from using them as shortcuts when traffic backs up on main arteries. By making low traffic slower side streets more attractive to cyclists we move some of the bicycle travel off these busier and faster moving roads. Overall this creates a situation that is safer for everyone, which I believe is why when the law passed Idaho didn’t see more injuries. Also when an accident does occur at slower speed it is more likely that those involved will not be seriously injured or killed. Death rates for cyclists/pedestrians spike when they are hit by cars traveling faster than 20mph so if we can do something to encourage cyclists to use roads where cars will likely be going slower than that shouldn’t we?

    Idaho has been doing this for nearly 3 decades, it works, and it is not dangerous. I was at the hearing yesterday and while 1 of the 10 committee members seemed concerned about safety (mostly of children not of adults) the others all seemed most concerned about the flood of emails with obscene language that they were receiving in response to the inaccurate and inflammatory Oregonian and KATU reports. The Chair actually said at one point that having heard more about the bill she felt like it might be a good idea, in contrast to what she thought after reading the newspaper article, but that she was very concerned about these emails…

    Bjorn Warloe

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  • Chris March 19, 2009 at 5:02 pm

    I don’t think its hard to justify the difference between not stopping, and blowing through a stop sign. A 200 pound person + bike combination can stop in about a foot from 5 mph. At 3-5 mph I have several seconds to survey most intersections with a clear view. A longer time than most people (motorized or otherwise) remain stopped.

    We should just tell people that it will mean a non motorized vehicle (or bike) can treat a “stop” as a “yield.” It will be about 2 minutes until we understand that 95% of the entire state has no clue what yield means. (ie stopping or significant slowing if there is oncoming traffic- it does not mean slow, pray, and gun it).

    Yield and “stop at red light, then make right, if clear” are the two things that drive me crazy with drivers.

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  • TDawg March 19, 2009 at 5:08 pm

    I can tell you that my driving friends don’t think bikers should get to yield at stop signs. Define it however you want, but the majority of people who drive (which still account for the overwhelming majority of people on the road) are not going to be for this law. People already think we get special privileges, and this is not helping that perception at all. That seems to be the single item that upsets the opponents of this bill the most.

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  • the future March 19, 2009 at 5:14 pm

    all the energy put forth towards this bill should really be diverted to securing more of the stimulus money that’s slipping through our hands for better bike lanes and better bike infrastructure.

    the effort is appreciated but how does this help us other than save a couple people some tickets? seems that it is just fanning the car vs bike flames.

    apologies for the negativity as ideas here usually have my full support.

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  • K'Tesh March 19, 2009 at 5:22 pm

    After seeing KGW’s segment “live” from their Studio on the Square, I attempted to get there to support the idea…

    I didn’t arrive in time.

    Perhaps more supporters can get there to share the facts, and straighten out the confusion?

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  • bikeknight March 19, 2009 at 5:29 pm

    I’m a cyclist. Can someone explain to me why “idaho stops” are important? At the moment, I don’t totally get it.

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  • Surlyben March 19, 2009 at 5:36 pm

    I’m not really sure why people worry about having a separate set of rules for bikes and cars. There are already separate rules for bikes and cars. And buses and trucks, for that matter. In general, the rules are the same, but specific exceptions do (and should) exist that reflect the differences in capabilities of each type of transportation. Semi-trucks can’t drive down certain streets in towns, cars aren’t generally allowed to park on the sidewalk downtown, buses and bikes are often allowed ignore do not enter signs.

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  • a.O March 19, 2009 at 5:37 pm

    bikeknight (#11), I personally don’t think the Idaho stop sign law is important.

    I think that the biggest impediment to more people bicycling is roadway safety, and this bill isn’t primarily about enhancing bicyclists’ safety. There are other changes that BTA could be lobbying for that would enhance safety much more, such as applying the vulnerable roadway users law to motorists who are driving less than 35mph, for example. As such, I think this should be a much lower priority for BTA than it is.

    As far as I can tell, and perhaps Karl or others can correct me, this bill is primarily motivated by the fact that the PPB’s traffic division has, in the past, repeatedly singled out bicyclists in Portland for ~$200 tickets after they rolled through stop signs in residential intersections.

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  • Robert Dobbs March 19, 2009 at 5:38 pm

    Way to screw the pooch there, Rhodes. Why you didn’t go on a media offensive before floating this bill, is beyond me.

    Your BTA dues would be better spent saving for the next ticket you get for rolling a stop.

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  • Robert Dobbs March 19, 2009 at 5:39 pm

    Also: time for another super-legal ride.

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  • John Lascurettes March 19, 2009 at 5:47 pm

    Sorry to be slightly off topic here, but every time I hear the “separate set of rules” or “they want us to share the road, but want special treatment” argument it makes me think this:

    Share the road does not equate to Equal on the road.

    By implied meaning, it means bikes are not equal and do need some special consideration due to their: speed, vulnerability, footprint, etc.

    Bikes will never have claim to the Interstate system (except where no other routes are available), we have to ride to the right, we have to ride in a bike lane, etc. etc. Why is a separate stop/yield law so jarring?

    Here’s what I think needs to be done as PR for this bill:

    First: Make a POV video of user doing a rolling stop on a bike, showing full field of view and ability to hear environmental noise (such as approaching vehicles – use boom box on the corner as a control subject). Do the same with a car, show the blind spots and the inability to hear environmental noise (the boombox).

    Second: Make three videos of a bike at an intersection: 1) Demonstrating a full stop then go; 2) Demonstrating a legal rolling stop; 3) Demonstrating “blowing the stop” and label it as illegal.

    That second video will go a long way to educating bikers themselves as to what constitutes a legal rolling stop/yield.

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  • driveslow March 19, 2009 at 5:47 pm

    sure the media coverage could be better

    but, how does the bike community expect to pass this kind of legislation without the active support of cities like Portland and Eugene

    Quit blaming the legislature and the media, I would raise my donation to the bta if they started working toward a proposal endorsed by the League of Oregon Cities for next session — once the League endorse this proposal, passage in Salem will be a formality

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  • TDawg March 19, 2009 at 5:49 pm

    Also: time for another super-legal ride.

    That sounds like a sure fire way to get the public on your side :)

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  • Paul Cone March 19, 2009 at 5:50 pm

    I wonder if the reason that most of the state doesn’t know what yield signs are is because we don’t that have that many. Portland has almost 15,000 stop signs, and only 135 or so yield signs (I know this because I do GIS at PBOT). Contrast that with Seattle, who seems to have a lot more (this is anecdotal).

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  • Mark C March 19, 2009 at 5:54 pm

    If there are no cars or other pedestrians around at a stop sign, my guess is that 75 percent of cyclists will show down and proceed through without completely stopping. Another 20 percent will blow through the intersection at full speed, and MAYBE 5 percent will actually come to a complete (no forward motion) stop.

    Cyclists here who are arguing against the proposed law (at least most of them) aren’t being completely honest about how they ride. I’m in that 75 percent, and it would be nice if the way I ride was not technically illegal.

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  • encephalopath March 19, 2009 at 5:55 pm

    I think one of the things that needs to be battled is the perception that the rules should be the same for everyone. That simply isn’t the way the vehicle code works, and isn’t the way it should work. The vehicle code is necessarily pragmatic in the way it addresses the needs and requirements of different users.

    The rules are not uniform for all road users. We must disabuse people of the notion that this is a special bicycle exception to the immutable laws of nature and shouldn’t be allowed. As noted in the testimony yesterday, there are already lots of laws that apply only to bicycles: passing on the right, keep right if possible, must use bike lane, turn signal requirements, lighting at night. People don’t look at those and say “Oh my god, the rules are different. I don’t know what to do. Stop it now!”

    There are special rules that apply only to motorcycles (two abreast), trucks (no driving the left most lane, lower speed limits, weight limits), pedestrians (crosswalks), blind pedestrians (must stay stoped while the blind person is in the street), emergency vehicles, vehicles with trailers.

    There are rules that only apply to changing environmental conditions: lights at night, chains for snow. Drivers don’t thow up their hands in confusion when it gets dark and different traffic laws are in effect.

    A bicycle is one of many different classes of road users, and like every other class of road user, there are rules that apply only to bicycles. The Idaho Stop Law would only be one of many rules that apply only to bicycles, and one that would do very little to change current visible cyclist behavior. There isn’t much to be confused about.

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  • TDawg March 19, 2009 at 5:57 pm

    Mark C- Most drivers drive over the speed limit (especially on the highway). Should speed limits be abolished?

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  • encephalopath March 19, 2009 at 6:07 pm

    @TDawg

    “Should speed limits be abolished?”

    If you can establish that the abolishing the speed limit had no appreciable difference in accident injury and fatality rates, yes.

    It pretty well established, however, that things don’t work out that way.

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  • TS March 19, 2009 at 6:16 pm

    If you are in support of this bill, go find your legislator and write/call them. No really, do it… now.

    Tell your legislator why you support the bill: it makes bicycling a more attractive and convenient mode of transport; it makes the roadways more usable for both bikes and cars; and it decriminalizes prevalent behavior that is already safe while sending a clear message that unsafe behaviors won’t be tolerated. It might not hurt to point out that bikes are different from cars — in the way they are used, the risk the represent, the way they are treated both physically and legally — and this change only makes the law accomodate those differences more sensibly.

    Say what you want, but please contact your legislator and say something. They need to hear from you.

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  • Bjorn March 19, 2009 at 6:29 pm

    TDawg, the main argument for doing this is not that people don’t obey stop signs. It is that a neighboring state has tried this with great success, finding that it improves riding without degrading safety.

    Our transportation system regularly sacrifices safety for speed, I mean if cars were all mechanically limited to 20mph things would be much safer than they are now, but we don’t do that. Here we have a change that makes a similar gain in terms of time savings for cyclists as in city speed limits in excess of 20mph does for cars, except as shown in Idaho without the safety issues. The real question should be why on earth wouldn’t we do this.

    Bjorn

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  • Kronda March 19, 2009 at 6:33 pm

    @encephalopath Very eloquent argument, to which I can only add an enthusiastic DITTO.

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  • Joe March 19, 2009 at 6:35 pm

    speeding cars! oh man we cant get a simple
    law passed, car infested world. sorry i got hacked in the bike lane again in lovely wilsonville! then he jumped in the lane to show me that he was making a point of what?
    all kinds of dirt in my eyes.

    sometimes the US is sooo backwards in thinking about mode of transport!

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  • John March 19, 2009 at 6:44 pm

    I’m only surprised that this story leaked out before the law passed! Maybe someone in the media thought it wouldn’t pass and decided to cash in on a constructed controversy before it was too late? Otherwise, they could have milked this thing for months.

    Lars would have waved this law like a burning flag. He was probably looking forwards to the opportunity, too.

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  • mark March 19, 2009 at 7:07 pm

    I’m not at all surprised, I fully expected this law to be dead in the water from day one. For one thing, the city relies a lot on the revenue generated from tickets given to bikes who go through stop signs and lights. They don’t want to give that up. For another, people who already have a chip on their shoulder about bikers will bitch and moan about how “unfair” it is that we want to be treated equally with cars, yet we want a separate set of rules concerning who has to stop or not stop. Funny thing is, when’s the last time you saw a car come to a complete stop at a stop sign? The Oregonian should have mentioned that too, instead of the snide comment regarding “when’s the last time you actually saw (a bike) stop at a stop sign?”

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  • Shamus Lynsky March 19, 2009 at 7:19 pm

    Going on the Lars Larson show is a fools errand. You will most likely never get his constituency (which is not a majority, anyway) to agree with most sane progressive ideas (let alone this idea), and he does not present a balanced forum. There is generally no point in ever going on his show.

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  • sabernar March 19, 2009 at 7:29 pm

    I’m part of the bike community, I understand the bill, and I’m against it. I don’t like the fact that this bill creates two different rules for the road for two different types of vehicles. Cyclists want to be treated as a true vehicle, but they want separate rules. If you want stop signs where cyclists can yield through, then put up a sign underneath the stop sign – “bike yield” or something like that – that specifically allows cyclists to yield through a specific stop sign. I think that allowing cyclists to roll through every single stop sign that exists is a mistake. Lots of cyclists already don’t obey the law, so they will continue to “blow” through stop signs because they think they have the law on their side, making things even more dangerous.

    I still don’t understand – what is this bill trying to solve? I think it’s a fallacy that people avoid riding bicycles because of stop signs. That’s totally ludicrous. People don’t ride bicycles because they don’t feel safe riding on busy streets with cars. This doesn’t solve that problem at all.

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  • Shamus Lynsky March 19, 2009 at 7:32 pm

    Also, in my opinion, the way to combat a vocal group of constituents contacting their legislators with inaccurate information to vote against this would be to mobilize better informed constituents to encourage their legislators to vote for it. That is, if you can find enough constituents that agree with this bill and are willing to take action.

    But really, the first hurdle is just getting the bill out of committee, and it’s a tough committee on this bill. You’ll likely never get Gillman, Weidner, or Schaufler and Berntz and Berger will be extremely tough sells. I don’t envy Karl.

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  • Spencer Boomhower March 19, 2009 at 7:34 pm

    The maddening thing is that this law is only meant to legalize what is currently a safe and responsible common practice among safe and responsible cyclists. These cyclists approach a stop sign cautiously, are able to look left, then right, then left again, making sure that the way is clear, and they have the right of way before proceeding, but without entirely destroying their forward momentum, the momentum they rely upon for efficiency.

    Probably the opponents see cyclists approach stop signs this way every single day, and think nothing of it. It’s certainly not unsafe or startling behavior. It just happens to not involve a complete cessation of forward movement. If you showed that behavior to the bill’s opponents, most would probably say, “oh, that? Well that’s not so bad, that could be legalized.”

    Instead what they picture is cyclists zooming through stops with impunity.

    Is there a time-line for when this bill would go to a vote if/when it makes it out of a committee? I’m wondering how much of a window of opportunity there is for an educational effort.

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  • encephalopath March 19, 2009 at 7:37 pm

    Adding to the list of different rules for different types of vehicles:

    Electric wheelchairs (allowed in bike lanes), skateboards (allowed on the street in downtown Portland with the same rights and responsibilities as bikes), farm vehicles (no lights or signals, just a reflective triangle), horses and horse drawn vehicles.

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  • KWW March 19, 2009 at 7:41 pm

    This will fail due to semantics.

    For v2.0, if there is one, please call it:
    The bicycle stop-yield law

    Also, some of those comments at Oregonian were on the money, bikes should come to a full stop at a 4 way stop sign.

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  • frank March 19, 2009 at 8:20 pm

    My problem with this legislation………

    - If you start pointing out the differences between auto’s and bikes you are setting yourself up to have your rights to use the roadway removed. We constantly talk about bicycles being vehicles when referring to why we can operate on busy streets or streets where we will no doubt slow a few people down. If a bicycle is pointed out as different or unable to be operated within the normal traffic systems than what defense do we have to be operated on the roads at all?

    - It would make it nearly impossible for police officers to enforce traffic laws. Its already tough enough for them to do this and now they will have to differentiate between “rolling through” and not? Give me a break. If I was an officer I would not want to have to go to court and explain why the offender went through faster than the law allows. Some bicycle “advocates” do no want law enforcement interfering with bicyclists rights to act like dumbasses…….I do.

    -Even if the law did pass 99% of motorists are never going to hear about it and assume that bicyclists have a total disregard for traffic laws……which admittedly most do.

    -We would be creating two different sets of laws which is already causing confusion and sometimes fatalities on our roadway…… See bicycle lanes

    - Bicycle advocates are essentially trying to eliminate any chances of them having to be slowed down while admittedly slowing down other road users on a daily basis. We cant even be bothered to stop at a stop sign but expect others to yield to us while we do 14 mph in a 45 mph arterial street?

    What are your thoughts? I am PRO enforcement and anti Idaho stop.

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  • t.a. barnhart March 19, 2009 at 8:25 pm

    anyone heard of a California stop? the hypocrisy of car drivers is appalling. but so what’s new?

    perhaps the key point to getting this to the floor is that bicyclists already ride by a different set of rules, and most cars acknowledge that. our only “privileges” are for safety’s sake: to keep us away from cars and keep both moving efficiently. letting bicyclists slow at stop signs and not come to a full stop is not a privilege; it’s not a vast change from current law. but we’ve got non-bicyclists going OH NOES THE STOP SIGNS as if a bike approaching the stop sign will close his or her eyes and just pedal like hell.

    overcoming ignorance is usually the #1 battle. so far, those leading the fight are not doing so hot. this is a great law, it promotes both bicycling and safety, and yet this one committee appears to have been caught off-guard. that’s not the committee’s fault.

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  • frank March 19, 2009 at 8:28 pm

    I guess I should also note that I really want bicycling to become something that EVERYONE wants to do…..not something that hipsters like to do or find trendy.

    If you look at our streets right now most bicyclists are 20 somethings who run red lights and stop signs. How appealing do you think that looks to a 50 year old woman? Do you have to be a rebel to ride a bicycle? Do you have to appear that you enjoy a good joint on a daily basis? Why dont normal and law abiding people ride bicycles?

    Its the same thing with lights. If you are a motorist and you see 15 bicycles on one trip across town without lights that you only see about 1/2 second before you nearly hit them that only makes bicycling seem dangerous and idiotic.

    Again, IMO – I hope this bill fails

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  • encephalopath March 19, 2009 at 8:29 pm

    “If you start pointing out the differences between auto’s and bikes you are setting yourself up to have your rights to use the roadway removed.”

    So people are saying that we can’t have the bill because the rules should be the same for everyone.

    -They’re not-

    And you’re saying we can’t have the bill because then people would KNOW that the rules aren’t the same for everyone.

    I think you do have a good point about enforcement. In what quantifiable way is “too fast” determined to be too fast?

    What say you Idaho folk to that question?

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  • encephalopath March 19, 2009 at 8:31 pm

    Or is the only infraction violating another road user’s right-of-way?

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  • frank March 19, 2009 at 8:36 pm

    What rules are different?

    Only rules that you should be trying to get rid of since they kill people.

    Like the mandatory sidepath law for example or the ability to pass standing vehicles on the right.

    Both “laws” that have killed people in Portland.

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  • encephalopath March 19, 2009 at 8:43 pm

    I think there are some things about bicycle rules that are confusing to motorists.

    Sometimes bikes function as pedestrians. They travel on sidewalks. They go through crosswalks and have the rights of pedestrians (only if traveling at a walking speed).

    I’m a vehicle, I’m a pedestrian, then I’m a vehicle. How do motorists know which role I’m playing? Where is the transition point when I change from one to the other?

    Those things are confusing. The Idaho Stop law doesn’t introduce that sort of ambiguity to the system. In fact there shouldn’t be any noticeable difference in bicycle behavior at all.

    The only thing that will change is the legal liability for allowing the wheels to turn little. If the law changed tomorrow, my ride will be exactly the same as it was today.

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  • frank March 19, 2009 at 8:44 pm

    t.a. barnhart -

    If there is one thing that angers me about this discussion it is the outrageous statement that an automobile who slows to 2 mph and then goes is anything like a bicyclist who literally goes through the stop sign at 10-15 mph the way many do.

    I do not own a car…..in fact I *hate* cars but I cannot honestly compare the way an average motorist handles a stop sign compared to the way the average bicyclists does.

    I doubt that you can as well if you were truly honest about.

    I suppose that you will also say that as many motorists drive around at night without lights as bicyclists too, right?

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  • buglas March 19, 2009 at 8:49 pm

    I have no problem with stop signs. Except for one specific sign between my employer’s parking lot and the non-public access road I obey them faithfully.

    Still, I remember my glee at finding a two mile route across a section of town on residential streets with no stops. All in all I’m in favor of this bill and I won’t be required to take advantage of it if I’m not in the mood.

    A point I haven’t seen anybody make is that if you roll through a stop in a manner that causes a motorist or even another bicycle on the through street to have to react, then you have failed to yield. It’s not a “blow through stops” bill, it’s a stop as yield law. If you’re doing it right then nobody will much notice.

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  • frank March 19, 2009 at 8:55 pm

    buglas,

    And I’ve certainly seen that. I’ve seen many bicyclist go through an intersection with people already sitting there waiting to go.

    I’ve seen people get to the stop sign, turn right to avoid getting hit by a auto approaching from the left. After that car passes they do a freaking u turn and then make a right to go on about their day after terrorizing 2 or 3 motorists.

    THAT is exactly the type of thing that we have all seen bicyclists do and do routinely. Like it or not that is what many motorists will remember about bicyclists and because there are so few of us we are often referred to as “those bicyclists” etc.

    Some disagree but if we simply obeyed the laws even when its unnecessary or boring or slows you down we would all be better off IMO.

    If you think there are too many stop signs than try working the system to get them removed. Many traffic engineers would agree with you. Pointing out the differences between your vehicle and a motor vehicle and explaining why yours does not fit within the current system is only going to help those who want to ban bicycles from public roads

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  • Kt March 19, 2009 at 8:58 pm

    I’m educating my friends, co-workers, and family one person at a time– but it’s not enough.

    The O needs to print a correction to this story. The news stations need to include the correct information both on their newscasts and their online news stories.

    They need to report the CORRECT INFORMATION, the full story, with all the FACTS and none of the biased BS they’ve been throwing around.

    And we need to call, email, write letters to our represntatives in Salem. We need to make sure they understand that we back this bill, if we do, and they need to hear positive things about it to leaven all the negativity they’ve heard.

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  • frank March 19, 2009 at 9:01 pm

    kt,

    I agree that they need to report the facts but I still hope it fails.

    I also hope that someday bicyclists will take themselves seriously enough as vehicles to stop for 1/2 second.

    I would spend my time getting rid of the mandatory sidepath law which only a handful of cities have anymore.

    In fact Portland and Schaumburg Illinois is the only two I know of .

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  • Spencer Boomhower March 19, 2009 at 9:08 pm

    #39:

    “I think you do have a good point about enforcement. In what quantifiable way is “too fast” determined to be too fast?”

    My understanding: it’s treated like a yield sign. So the question becomes: how fast is “too fast” for a yield sign? I would say it’s too fast if you blow through it without making sure you have the right-of-way. And you should probably be slowing before going through a yield regardless of whether the way seems clear.

    #41

    “What rules are different?

    Only rules that you should be trying to get rid of since they kill people.”

    Don’t the vulnerable road user laws treat different categories of road users differently? (And I would hope they’re not killing people!)

    And the categories should be treated differently, since there’s a fundamental difference in hazard to life and limb between a 30-pound human-powered vehicle, and a 3000-pound many-horse-powered vehicle.

    The problem is bikes are being regulated according to the laws meant for the latter.

    This hasn’t been too much of a problem until recently, because people riding bikes have flown under the radar by virtue of our small numbers. But lately in Portland we’ve been seeing something new (in the U.S. at least). Enough people are using bikes as transport that we’re being noticed on the road. Some of this notice is taking the form of police stings at stop signs that, again, were only ever designed with cars in mind.

    It’s perfectly fair for cyclists to ask that the laws be fair, and appropriate to our means of transport. Retooling these car-centric laws to take human-powered transport into account will not forfeit our right to the road. These are, after all, public thoroughfares, a definition that to me implies: a space designated for we the people to use to get ourselves around. Nothing in “public” or “thoroughfare” implies: for the sole use of motor vehicles.

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  • encephalopath March 19, 2009 at 9:18 pm

    The valid concern people have over the Idaho Stop law is mostly this: Will a rolling stop law alter cyclist behavior in such a way that an increase in accidents and injury occurs to cyclists and other road users?

    To answer that question we go to the Idaho data. And the Idaho data says… no.

    Attempting to discount the lengthy experience Idaho has with the rolling stop law and claiming things would be different here ends up drifting off into magical thinking.

    Such as:

    Maybe the cars in Idaho all have big pillows on the front so that when bicycles avail themselves of the rolling stop law and get hit, they don’t get hurt. And that’s why there was no increase in the accident and injury rate with the law in place.

    Or maybe the residents of Idaho aren’t actually human. They’re all aliens whose decision making processes are so dramatically different than ours that we can’t use the Idaho data to determine how such a law would work here.

    Do Idaho children have trouble learning the rolling stop rules and get hit by cars more often than other places? Well… no. So Oregon’s children not as smart Idaho’s children or something?

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  • buglas March 19, 2009 at 9:24 pm

    Frank (#45),
    I think our views aren’t too far apart. That’s good because I don’t really feel like going head to head with anybody here.

    Many cyclists who currently roll through stops are failing to yield as I described and as you and all the rest of us have observed. That’s currently illegal. If this bill passes, it will still be illegal and the fine will increase by 50% to what… $363? Behavior that is objectively safe will be decriminalized and people who don’t understand how to achieve that will have an economically Darwinian opportunity to learn.

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  • SD March 19, 2009 at 9:34 pm

    If the argument is about equity (cars and bikes treated the same), then it should be about the equity of experience and responsibility between cars and bikes not the same law between cars and bikes. It requires distinct laws to apply the same standards to bikes and cars. To argue that equality comes from having the same law apply to different types of road users despite very different operating characteristics is not a thoughtful application of the law. But, to create laws that preserve safety and eliminate unnecessary barriers to travel is intelligent and good for everyone.

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  • Spencer Boomhower March 19, 2009 at 9:35 pm

    The albatross around this legislation’s neck is the image of urban cyclists that persists in the imagination of non-cyclists: that of an inconsiderate scofflaw dangerously blowing through stops, cutting off others, and endangering pedestrians.

    I wonder how to get across the message: those idiots are not representative of the vast majority of people on bikes. This law is not trying to help them, nor sanction their behavior.

    You tend not to remember the vast majority of people on bikes precisely because they’re being safe and considerate, and not spreading emotional trauma everywhere they ride.

    How about we suggest that, along with the Idaho stop law, we pass an anti-idiot law? Too broad? Not enforceable? OK, we tried!

    Now, in lieu of an anti-idiot law, how about we pass this other law, this Idaho thing, which decriminalizes safe, sensible behavior on the part of people employing this safe, clean, incredibly efficient means of transportation.

    Or… If we’re going to get all high and mighty about the letter of the law, how about we enforce it for everyone? Because really, how often do you see a car come to a complete stop *behind* the stop sign? I’d bet most don’t. Instead they get at least most of their hood through it before they come to a complete stop, *if* they come to a complete stop.

    Or maybe I’m only remembering the idiots. :)

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  • Mr. Bojangles March 19, 2009 at 9:45 pm

    In the highly corporate / political job I used to be in we had an expression for a situation like this – “Somebody just pissed in our cornflakes”. And the BTA pretty much dropped ball on this one. With the previous Stop Sign Bill getting shot down — the BTA should have been way out in front on this. IMHO the article in the Oregonian was a political hatchet job.

    So kids, take 15 minutes and either call or email your State Rep. And have your friends do it and their friends – or this bill is toast. I just sent my email.

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  • frank March 19, 2009 at 9:46 pm

    Spencer,

    There are many people who believe that yield signs would reduce ALL crashes. I’m sure we have all seen bicyclists who do not even look before blowing a 4 way. Why dont they look? I guess because they assume that if a car was approaching that they would have to stop. That works fine unless two idiotic bicyclists decide to blow the stop sign at the same time and run into each other.

    But what about cars? I’m sure we have all had an auto driver stop at a stop sign but never actually look left or right before going. You dont really have to look to see a car because they are so large that you just somehow know they are there with your peripheral vision. Point being, maybe if it was a 4 way “yield” that all of us would have to slow and more important LOOK and THINK before proceeding.

    I like that idea rather than pointing out that bicycles really are not designed for our modern road system and that we should never be slowed down. That just gives the anti’s who get pixxed when they are behind me on a 4 lane arterial without bike lanes getting slowed down an excuse for why I should not be on the road.

    I stop at every stop sign. I do not do it because it necessarily makes me safer but rather because my rights as a bicyclist are important to me. The #1 complaint about bicyclists is our constant screaming about rights but then usually break every traffic law we have the opportunity to break. Hell, that pixxes me off as a guy who does not even own a car.

    Somehow I doubt that telling people that its now legal for bicyclists to run stop signs (which is what this is going to be known as) is going to do anything more than grow more contempt.

    My real fear is what this will do to law enforcement. In the United States there is a HUGE PROBLEM of officers not knowing or understanding traffic laws for bicyclists and an even bigger problem of a lack of enforcment of bicyclists who break traffic laws. That is why in any american city there are about 5% of the population riding the wrong way down the street, people riding at night without lights etc. etc. etc.

    No officer is going to be able to confidently write a ticket for someone for going through a stop sign too fast. Someone brought up the “failing to yield” ticket. The only time that is written is after a crash in most cases. Its sort of like the “3 foot passing law.” It comes in real handy after a crash when OBVIOUSLY the person did not leave 3 feet or if the person OBVIOUSLY failed to yield but it becomes real difficult for those tickets without crashes to hold up in court.

    I think we would all be better off if we took our rights and responsibilities more seriously and if our police officers actually thought of bicycles as vehicles and protected us AND punished us appropriately.

    An officer who drives right by someone riding at night without lights but would pull over a SUV driving without lights is not doing us (bicyclists) a favor. I’m sure many bikeportland followers might disagree.

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  • frank March 19, 2009 at 9:50 pm

    SD,

    If I hated bicycles your below line would be the EXACT one I would use when suggesting that bicycles do not belong on arterial streets. There are people who think that bicycles are so fundamentally different (smaller/slower) that it is beyond stupid to allow them on the same roads as cars.

    “To argue that equality comes from having the same law apply to different types of road users despite very different operating characteristics is not a thoughtful application of the law.”

    If you disagree than I hope I at least made my point well enough that you understand my thoughts.

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  • you may think you are a pro cyclist March 19, 2009 at 9:57 pm

    I wonder why people overestimate the speed of bikes by so much. Few people are going 15mph when they are pedaling hard. Sure there are tour de france riders that can hit 40 for short distances but to hear the oregonian talk cyclists regularly are heading through intersections at 25mph. Maybe if it is on a big hill it would be possible to go that fast, but really it is the rare cyclist going more than around 5 mph as they roll through a stop sign.

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  • Borgbike March 19, 2009 at 11:06 pm

    RE: Lar Larson

    If it makes folks feel any better, Lars was fired from his national show today. He still has his local show but his national syndicator dumped him today along with sticking him with an expensive-to-get-out-of non-compete clause.

    It’s too bad he set out as being so opposed to it. If you think about it, an Oregon-version of the Idaho Stop might have been something he’d support. After all uber-right-wing Idaho adopted the law.

    Love him or hate him, but a big part of Lars’s m.o. is fighting bureaucratic/government absurdity. Yes he’s a righty but with a strong libertarian bent. Who knows? Maybe if he had been approached differently about this, he might have supported the idea. After all the Idaho Stop is about common sense and individual rights over silly government and laws. ;-)

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  • John Lascurettes March 19, 2009 at 11:17 pm

    Idaho stop law or not, I’m still an aterial on my commute home every night, because slow-rolling yields (and some stops) every other block for 40 blocks is much more a PITA than only having 3 stoplights/stop signs for the same distance. That’s the difference between NE Skidmore or Going and NE Prescott.

    I knocked more than a few minutes off my commute when I made that shift and I get much more sustained workout out of it too.

    Still, I support this bill. And when I am on a street with a stop sign, I do the rolling stop, exactly as this bill intends: Slow to 3-6 mph, look while listening, look again, and proceed without stopping if safe while no cars, pedestrians or animals are approaching. If any of the above are there, I stop (sometimes a standing stop waiting for the yieldee to clear, sometimes foot-down stop). End of story. When I drive, I would never consider doing that because I cannot hear what I can hear or see what I can see like I can on a bike. On a bike, I know when it’s safe in a low speed approach. In a car, not so much.

    The way I figure it, even if this bill never passes, I take such a conservative, safe approach to a rolling stop, I’ll never be ticketed (unless that corner is being made example of in a sting – Flint & Broadway anyone?) and most of the time, I’m never even seen because no one is there.

    I liked someone else’s idea of replacing a majority of stop signs with yield signs for everyone. In Beumont-Wilshire, there’s quite a few intersections with no traffic controls either direction and people figure it out (everyone approaches with caution) with few exceptions.

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  • Spencer Boomhower March 19, 2009 at 11:25 pm

    #54 frank

    “You dont really have to look to see a car because they are so large that you just somehow know they are there with your peripheral vision.”

    That actually underlines one of the points supporters of the Idaho Stop frequently make: that cyclists have a natural self-interest in riding safe precisely because they’re harder to see, and vulnerable.

    That’s probably part of why the rolling stop law hasn’t caused any problems in Idaho.

    “Point being, maybe if it was a 4 way “yield” that all of us would have to slow and more important LOOK and THINK before proceeding.”

    Yes, like that emerging traffic control theory that says if you take down street signs it (somewhat anti-intuitively) increases safety because people are forced to rely more on their own common sense and courtesy instead of looking to signs to tell them what to do.

    “I like that idea rather than pointing out that bicycles really are not designed for our modern road system”

    On the contrary, I think bikes are an awesome match for the modern road system :). However, some traffic control devices on this road system were clearly designed with cars in mind, and no thought given to bicycles. Stop signs are one of those devices.

    “and that we should never be slowed down.”

    *Never* be slowed down? I never said that (and I’m not sure if you’re suggesting I did).

    Slowing down is a good idea at a stop sign, and a required part of an Idaho Stop law.

    Whereas coming to a dead stop, such that forward momentum destroyed, is an unnecessary hindrance to cyclists. I think it’s OK to complain about unnecessary hindrances.

    Imagine this: we could eliminate the vast majority of traffic fatalities in this country. It would be easy. We’d just have to pass a nationwide 15 mph speed limit on all automobiles. Done! However, some auto users might complain about the hindrance of such a law. I’d agree with them… even despite the safety gains to be had.

    Now, the Idaho stop law has been proven – in Idaho – to not increase danger on the streets. And it eliminates an unnecessary hindrance. Almost a win-win. A “draw-win,” I guess.

    “The #1 complaint about bicyclists is our constant screaming about rights but then usually break every traffic law we have the opportunity to break.”

    That’s self-contradictory behavior only if the laws are totally fair. But is it a given that the laws have been designed such that they don’t violate our rights? What if the laws as written are unfair? Is an unjust law any law at all?

    I mean, it seems possible that the people who wrote stop sign laws way back when could not have anticipated that in the year 2009 people would be using bikes as transportation in the unprecedented numbers we’re seeing here in Portland. In failing to see this coming, they might have designed a law that wasn’t a good fit for this situation.

    Maybe we’re not breaking the law, maybe it’s already broken. Can’t we fix it?

    Law is an ongoing conversation that can adapt to changing conditions. Right here and now we’re just trying to smooth out the wrinkles caused by a somewhat dramatic change in the way people get around. For better or worse, we here in Portland are, among Americans, at the forefront of this particular wrinkle-smoothing exercise.

    “Somehow I doubt that telling people that its now legal for bicyclists to run stop signs (which is what this is going to be known as) is going to do anything more than grow more contempt.”

    If the perception is wrong, that can be fixed. Maybe we could do a better job of saying: cyclists treat will get to stop signs as yields; it’s just that simple.

    “No officer is going to be able to confidently write a ticket for someone for going through a stop sign too fast.”

    If it’s a person on a bike, it’s as a yield sign. So in that case, could an officer figure out if someone’s going through a yield sign too fast?

    “I think we would all be better off if we took our rights and responsibilities more seriously and if our police officers actually thought of bicycles as vehicles and protected us AND punished us appropriately.”

    Exactly. Like if I’m on my bike – basically a 170 pound guy plus 30 pounds of bike – and I cautiously roll up to a stop sign, look both ways, and make sure to give the right of way to anyone who has it, but in the process happen not to cease the forward motion of my wheels completely so that I might preserve some of my forward momentum, I should, in that case, not be subject to a penalty designed to reign in the excesses of much heavier, much more powerful, and thus vastly more dangerous vehicles.

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  • Frank Selker March 19, 2009 at 11:26 pm

    Just want to be sure people know there is more than one Frank in town, and the one posting here isn’t me.

    Frank Selker

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  • Spencer Boomhower March 19, 2009 at 11:32 pm

    “Maybe we could do a better job of saying: cyclists treat will get to stop signs as yields; it’s just that simple.”

    HA! Apparently it’s only simple unless *I* try to say it. Yeesh. I MEANT to say:

    “Maybe we could do a better job of saying: cyclists will get to treat stop signs as yields; it’s just that simple.”

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  • Karl Rohde, BTA March 19, 2009 at 11:38 pm

    Hi all,

    I just got home and I’m exhausted. I will try to read through all the comments and respond in the morning. I will also try to keep you as informed as possible, but things are moving at an incredibly hectic pace this year, as I have been told by many legislators and lobbyists. I just wanted you to know that I’m not ignoring you.

    Best regards,

    Karl

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  • bahueh March 20, 2009 at 12:19 am

    Hey Karl…read this post…
    quit wasting your time on this frivolous garbage legislation and actually work towards passing bills that protect cyclist from negligent driving behavior…

    WTF ever made the BTA think yielding through stop signs was good idea and worth all of the money and time?

    try representing the safety of cyclists and vulnerable road users and drop the “we’re decriminalizing good behavior” nonsense…

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  • wsbob March 20, 2009 at 12:28 am

    This bill proposal needlessly complicates a long standing, clearly understandable and reliable, basic traffic regulation.

    The reasons supporters of this proposal have given for wanting the proposal to become law are at best, weak. Something to do with saving ‘momentum’ and ‘time’. To the extent that this proposed law is intended to apply to the two main types of non-competitive riding that occurs on Oregon roads, recreational and commuting, those reasons are ridiculous.

    Anyone not sufficiently fit or motivated to get to their destination by bike, stopping at stop signs along the way, should probably consider other travel options that would be less physically exhausting for them, such as carpooling or mass transit.

    It’s not been shown that the savings in time that people as commuters, riding bikes would save by not having to stop at stop signs, would be of sufficient value to justify passage of this proposal into law. In fact, proponents have offered no indication of how much time a person commuting by bike would save by not having to stop at stop signs.

    This bill proposal seems really to be nothing more than self indulgence on the part of certain people that ride bikes.

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  • steve March 20, 2009 at 1:22 am

    It is too bad this bill did not include more funds for the BTA.

    If it had, maybe they would have actually supported it with Action Alerts, press releases, and a forceful media campaign.

    This bill appears to be nothing more than a rotten piece of meat thrown to their most vocal base. Lap it up everyone. MMMM MMM! Incompetence smells so good!

    If you are hapopy about their handling of this bill and their unwavering support of a 12 lane multi-billion dollar bridge, then by all means send your cash in to the BTA.

    I am sure operators are standing by.

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  • revphil March 20, 2009 at 2:54 am

    dear frank, i like the pixxies too! Hell, even a drunk as fuck Frank Black understands that Idaho Style makes sense.

    To the rest of you naysayers, being the 1st to proclaim defeat is nothing to be proud of.

    Hey! I just wrote my sen and my rep, it was easy:

    ———-
    I dont write congress very often, but I really hope you will support
    the Idaho Style law that is being discussed. It may sound kind of
    strange, but it makes sense when you think about it. It has made
    traffic more efficient for residents of Idaho for the past few decades
    without causing more collisions.

    I think if the people of Idaho can figure it out, why not us?

    A lot of confusing things have been written about this, but I think
    this webpage answers most of the questions:
    http://bikeportland.org/2009/01/14/idaho-stop-law-faq/
    ———-

    TS, thanks for sending that url
    http://www.leg.state.or.us/findlegsltr/

    Good luck Karl! Lets win one for common sense!

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  • frank March 20, 2009 at 7:24 am

    Why dont you folks do the unthinkable for the next few weeks and actually STOP AT STOP SIGNS. You can think of it as a protest if it makes you feel better.

    Roll up, take your foot off the pedal, place your foot on the ground, look both ways and then start pedaling.

    Hell, you might even realize its not as bad as you think.

    But if motorists really enjoy bicyclists running stop signs as much as many of you think than no doubt the phones to your legislatures will be ringing off the hook in support.

    Please note – I’m not talking about camping out at the sign for 5 minutes….just a normal stop.

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  • frank March 20, 2009 at 7:27 am

    Another note – it would also make this bill appear that it really is helping your efficiency rather than legalizing bad behavior.

    You would probably also realize for the first time in your bicycling life that its really not that bad and probably makes people feel pretty good about themselves……that you do not have to be an outlaw / antisocial person to ride a bicycle.

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  • Kris March 20, 2009 at 7:49 am

    wsbob #63

    You consider the reasons of “time and momentum” to be ridiculous when it applies to bicycles, but you seem to ignore that a lot of traffic rules, the design of our road infrastructure, and our generous speed limits are based on the same principle of improving traffic flow and convenience for car drivers.

    This law would do something similar for cyclists. It’s not as much about saving time, as about making our rides – especially on low-traffic residential streets – more enjoyable. Maybe you consider that a ridiculous thought, but I completely support the BTA in raising this as an issue that needs to be addressed if we want to get more people to ride their bicycles in the city.

    Maybe this law is a bit too confusing to garner broad support, but it’s a great start to get the discussion going on how to improve not just the safety but also the convenience of bicyclists. That’s the approach they’re taking in many other places around the world, with great results in terms of more people riding bikes.

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  • Cruizer March 20, 2009 at 8:12 am

    Pasted below is an excellent letter to the editors in the March 20 Oregonian by Dan Kaufman. The BTA could use him as a spokesman to help counter the misinformation being spread about this concept. In addition, supporters of the bill could use his points (in their own words) when writing to their representatives in the state legislature.

    “Consider Idaho stop
    The Oregonian’s sensational and inaccurate headline “Never mind that stop sign, just roll through” (March 18) was especially disappointing to read this morning because I believe the idea has merit and deserves a rational debate.

    You have misinformed your readers and fanned the flames against a idea that could really help cyclists safely keep their momentum.

    The “Idaho stop” bill does not allow cyclists to “treat signs with impunity.” It allows them to approach stops signs as yields. By law, a yield requires the operator to be prepared to stop. Any rider “never-minding” or ignoring a stop sign would be in violation.

    This law has worked in Idaho successfully since 1982. I hope your readers and our state senators will avoid a knee-jerk reaction and take a closer look.”

    DAN KAUFMAN

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  • Steven J March 20, 2009 at 8:16 am

    Motor vehicles would probably change their tune if they had to shut off their engines at every stop sign.
    Sadly,

    Common sense is not very common.

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  • Cruizer March 20, 2009 at 8:19 am

    Regarding post #70: Please note that this post was placed by me, Cruizer, and not by the letter writer, Dan Kaufman, even though the post ends with his name. Sorry for the confusion. I did not have his permission to paste his letter onto my post but I doubt that he would mind. I just should have done it in a way that didn’t look like the post was from him.

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  • branbike March 20, 2009 at 8:34 am

    I have to agree that this law should be low-priority. I think there are many other things we could be focusing our attention on. More bike boulevards and well-planned bike routes (Pdx Green Wave?)could make for great commutes with very few stops.

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  • frank March 20, 2009 at 8:53 am

    steven j,

    shut off their engines?

    What? I can stop, put a foot down and be back up to 12-14 mph in just a couple of seconds.

    Its really not a big deal. Maybe if you ride a fixed gear its a bigger deal?

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  • Lurker B March 20, 2009 at 9:01 am

    The committee has scheduled the bill for a Work Session at 1pm on Wednesday.

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  • SD March 20, 2009 at 9:18 am

    To those of you complaining this is a non issue:
    This law is immensely important because it will change traffic rules to being based on the science behind road use. The current laws that govern cars (and are arbitrarily extended to bicycles) are based on the study of cars on the road and simple observations of physics. Many of the concerns about the law are treating a road use law as a law based on moral codes. The primary reason that car laws apply to bike laws is due to a previous lack of experience with bicycles. Now, in Portland and Idaho, we have accumulated experience of bicycle traffic and it has clearly been demonstrated that a rolling stop for bicycles is equivalent to a full stop for cars. It is a crucial precedent to establish laws that govern bicycle travel based on science. This is important for this issue and will definitely come up again in the future as our transportation systems evolve.
    Good Luck BTA!

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  • Oliver March 20, 2009 at 9:24 am

    I pass through at least 6 uncontrolled intersections every morning on my way to work.

    i.e. No signs whatsoever.

    How am I not dead?

    How have I and the residents of these neighborhoods managed to not kill each other with our cars or our fists on these ‘chance’ meetings as we go about our respective mornings.

    By some people’s logic this is an aberration of natural laws and should cause the very universe to self-destruct at the moment this occurs.

    Or could it possibly be that we are operating on this (from all accounts) bizarre theorem known as YIELD right of way.

    Some people get it. Maybe their born with it. Maybe they read that incendiary propaganda known as the Oregon Drivers Manual.

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  • El Biciclero March 20, 2009 at 9:37 am

    Here is what we need:
    Two stop lines, or a stop “zone”. All vehicle operators must keep the front end of their vehicles between the two ends of the “stop zone” for at least n seconds to be considered by law to have “slopped” (slowed/stopped). The two lines will be d feet apart.

    Now, argue over n and d.

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  • Lenny Anderson March 20, 2009 at 9:49 am

    The tone of much of the stop sign and registration discussion suggests that bicyclists are the “problem.” We are not, we are the “solution,” and should be honored, not harrassed and belittled.
    Maybe its time for a BikeStrike! For a day those of us with cars, drive; others get a Zipcar, and we stop at every stop sign…I mean really stop; go the speed limit (or less) on every street and clog every bridge in the whole damn town.

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  • are March 20, 2009 at 10:04 am

    oliver 77 is making an important point that is overlooked in this whole discussion (and might have made a good talking point for karl). the stop signs were put there in the first place to regulate motorized traffic. and in many, many, many cases, the decision to place a stop sign at a particular intersection is actually a poor decision, even for motorists, who tend to look only at the next stop sign, rather than what is actually going on around them, and speed from one regulated intersection to the next. (the effect is even more pronounced with timed stop lights, with motorists racing to catch the late yellow.)

    if almost every intersection was treated as a roundabout, with traffic approaching from the right having precedence over traffic approaching from the left, everything would work a lot more smoothly and safely. the idaho rolling stop is a first step in a very sensible direction.

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  • GG March 20, 2009 at 10:04 am

    Jonathan,
    These articles would be so much more useful if you included information at the end about how to take action. What’s the easiest way to express support for the bill to counteract the misinformed opposition?

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  • Jonathan Maus (Editor) March 20, 2009 at 10:06 am

    “Jonathan,
    These articles would be so much more useful if you included information at the end about how to take action.”

    GG,
    thanks for that feedback.

    I am not here to encourage anyone to act a certain way on this issue. that’s the job of the BTA and others who are pushing for this.

    my role is to inform you of what’s going on.

    once i start listing emails and contact info than this turns into just another blog about bike advocacy.. instead of what i am trying to build, which is a respected news source about biking.

    thanks.

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  • SkidMark March 20, 2009 at 10:08 am

    I love how rumors and hearsay can sway a government decision.

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  • TDawg March 20, 2009 at 10:41 am

    anyone heard of a California stop? the hypocrisy of car drivers is appalling. but so what’s new?

    Since when are California Stops legal? They’re not, and no one is trying to pass a law to legalize them, so I pardon me if I don’t see the hypocrisy you’re so outraged about.

    The real issue is that there are too many stop signs everywhere. Cars are no better at stopping every 500 feet than bikes. Stop signs waste gas, brake pad material, and add green house gases to the atmosphere. Several major studies have recently shown that drivers are safer when they are not relying on devices like traffic signs and traffic lights. This is why there are so few accidents at the unregulated intersections all over Portland.

    If we are really about increasing safety, and ‘sharing the road’, then lets start a campaign that would benefit ALL road users and get rid of all of these over regulated roadways. That is something that can get widespread support from the entire constituency, and not just a tiny piece of it.

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  • El Biciclero March 20, 2009 at 10:43 am

    “I love how rumors and hearsay can sway a government decision.”

    Yes, the subtleties of ignorance and credulity can be pernicious…
    Don’t say “niggardly”

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  • wsbob March 20, 2009 at 11:07 am

    Kris #69, have you ever made an ‘Idaho Stop’, or a ‘California Stop’ while riding a bike in Oregon? If you have, how many times and where, have you been stopped and cited for doing so?

    Many people in Oregon, operators of cars and bikes use reasonable discretion in making those two variations of the ‘stop means stop’ sign regulation safely and with little or no objection or consequences from either police or citizen. That doesn’t imply that road users should go ahead and use those kind of stop variation as their standard operating procedure, but it’s a reality that they are used and tolerated to certain degree.

    The current regulation Oregon uses works just fine for most road users because when they roll through a stop sign under the ‘stop means stop’ regulation Oregon uses, they do so with a level of discretion and safety that doesn’t arouse alarm and anger from citizen and the police.

    As I recall, reading articles here on bikeportland for some time now, occasions where people riding bikes have received citations for rolling through stop signs have been almost exclusively associated with the enforcement details that were conducted over at the S.E. Portland neighborhood, Ladd’s Addition (a city designated bike route runs through it). It seems as though there were some details conducted somewhere around Emanuel Hospital as well, and of course, there’s the running conflict between bike messengers and police that may have generated some of those kinds of citations.

    Those details were likely conducted after people riding bikes allowed the practice of rolling through stop signs to become so common and careless that complaints from the neighborhood obliged the PD to send officers out to address the situation.

    So it would seem as though supporters of this proposed law would like it to be passed so they no longer have to be face enforcement arising from indifferent regard on the part of certain people that ride bikes, for the need to abide by ‘stop means stop’ with reasonable discretion.

    Please elaborate on how the momentum issue is significant. A reasonably fit rider can easily meet or beat the speed of a basic type (not a hot rod) car in normal operation off the line up to 10-12 mph.

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  • peejay March 20, 2009 at 8:23 pm

    This whole argument proves why stop signs are a huge FAIL.

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  • Chris March 20, 2009 at 9:43 pm

    wsbob,

    Look at the link someone provided on the forum. It takes quite a bit of energy to restart. It suggests that if I have to stop at every traffic control device on my commute, I’m adding a mile’s worth of energy expenditure to my ride.

    The only reason a cyclist keeps right is so that traffic may move more efficiently. So we already have rules that differ for cars (and motorcycles) and bikes based on allowing one road user group to maintain a higher average speed. Why is changing stop to yield any different?

    An effective test on efficiency (completely legally) is to find a long stretch of road with few or no stops, and ride it. Then on your way back, make full stops every 200 or so feet. Compare you average speed for that section, it might be as much as 5 mph slower (10 vs 15 mph) taking 30% longer.

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  • wsbob March 20, 2009 at 11:37 pm

    Chris, I see your point, but don’t believe the additional energy or time it takes to restart represents an excessive burden that would justify changing the basic ‘stop means stop’ regulation. Part of the idea behind pedaling a bike rather than sitting in a motor vehicle and letting that type of transportation move you along, is to expend energy.

    At this point in the growing state of biking as transportation, it seems a minor point to quibble about extra minutes or calories expended due to having to stop and restart forward movement at stop signs. We’ve not heard report of long lines of traffic backed up because of bikes having to stop at stop signs, or that great numbers of people are unable to get to their jobs on time because of bikes having to stop at stop signs. We’ve not heard that having to stop signs is a significant factor in keeping people from deciding to try biking for commuting or recreation.

    Bikes having to stop for stop signs isn’t presently responsible for traffic flow issues. They may eventually be so, if we ever get to a level of cycling for commuting such as China once had (or maybe still does)based on film footage I’ve seen.

    Regardless how commonsensical this proposed law may seem to proposal supporters, for it to pass, any argument for it has to be strong enough to persuade other road users of its value. If the argument for, is strong enough, it’ll counter any biased argument against, that the O might come up with.

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  • Chris March 21, 2009 at 1:54 am

    It might not be an excessive burden, but it is one that I’d rather do without. One reason is the nature of our bike routes, and traffic calming devices. Traffic lights cost me a 10% increase in commute time, although I don’t actually deal with many stop signs.

    As others have pointed out, we travel mostly on local roads which have a number of signs just to slow people (cars, mostly) down. When neighborhoods complain about speeds, the first thing they do is put in stop signs. Not all stop signs are actually about safe intersections. These roads also tend to be hillier to twistier (longer) than the main thoroughfare. This keeps the average speed down, but does not seem to decrease the top speed people reach as they race between lights or stop signs.

    Excessive burden, maybe not, but I do believe it is an unfair burden.

    What I typically do anyway, is yield, while looking for oncoming traffic, especially the kind with light bars on the roof. If the whole area is empty, I will proceed. The main advantage to be, will be the ability to not check behind me (somewhat distracting from the actual intersection) or watch 2 blocks away, instead of watching for only nearby traffic.

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  • Anonymous March 21, 2009 at 12:13 pm

    I’ve mentioned this on another comment thread here (and over at OregonLive), but here is an existing law to consider and compare to the proposed Idaho stop:

    Right Turn On Red

    Here is a law that does what? Allows vehicle operators to disobey–”blow through”, if you will–red lights, into traffic, as long as they think it is safe to turn right. Does this law exist to enhance safety? No. Accidents have been caused by people misjudging the situation and making unsafe Right Turns On Red. If not for safety, then why? I’ll tell you why: solely for efficiency. RTOR is allowed strictly so impatient drivers don’t have to sit at a red light, idling their lives away, when it might be perfectly safe to just make that turn. This law creates dangerous situations for pedestrians, who are at vastly increased risk of being the victim of the “look left go right” driver. It encourages drivers to squeeze over into bike lanes–and even onto the sidewalk in some situations I have seen–just to sneak in a turn on a red light.

    Yet…where is the outcry? I see drivers abuse this law continuously. I could take several friends out for a nice dinner if I had a dollar for every time a RTOR driver has pulled out in front of me (on my bike or in my car) at a distance that has caused me to have to either brake or change lanes to avoid a collision. Many times they haven’t even stopped first, they just coast around the corner, convinced that it is “safe” to proceed. I’m sure this has happened to others as well, yet…no indignation. It’s just par for the course. Cost of doing business, as it were.

    But my, oh, my–mention a law that would allow the SAME level of freedom to exercise judgment to a class of road user that has nowhere near the potential to cause the damage to others that a car does, and the same kind of law is suddenly “stupid”, “idiotic” and will result in mass carnage strewn about the streets.

    In the venerable words of Charlie Brown, “I can’t stand it.”

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  • El Biciclero March 21, 2009 at 12:14 pm

    –Sorry if this is a re-post, it didn’t look like my first attempt went through–

    I’ve mentioned this on another comment thread here (and over at OregonLive), but here is an existing law to consider and compare to the proposed Idaho stop:

    Right Turn On Red

    Here is a law that does what? Allows vehicle operators to disobey–”blow through”, if you will–red lights, into traffic, as long as they think it is safe to turn right. Does this law exist to enhance safety? No. Accidents have been caused by people misjudging the situation and making unsafe Right Turns On Red. If not for safety, then why? I’ll tell you why: solely for efficiency. RTOR is allowed strictly so impatient drivers don’t have to sit at a red light, idling their lives away, when it might be perfectly safe to just make that turn. This law creates dangerous situations for pedestrians, who are at vastly increased risk of being the victim of the “look left go right” driver. It encourages drivers to squeeze over into bike lanes–and even onto the sidewalk in some situations I have seen–just to sneak in a turn on a red light.

    Yet…where is the outcry? I see drivers abuse this law continuously. I could take several friends out for a nice dinner if I had a dollar for every time a RTOR driver has pulled out in front of me (on my bike or in my car) at a distance that has caused me to have to either brake or change lanes to avoid a collision. Many times they haven’t even stopped first, they just coast around the corner, convinced that it is “safe” to proceed. I’m sure this has happened to others as well, yet…no indignation. It’s just par for the course. Cost of doing business, as it were.

    But my, oh, my–mention a law that would allow the SAME level of freedom to exercise judgment to a class of road user that has nowhere near the potential to cause the damage to others that a car does, and the same kind of law is suddenly “stupid”, “idiotic” and will result in mass carnage strewn about the streets.

    In the venerable words of Charlie Brown, “I can’t stand it.”

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