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A ‘white-boy electro-rap’ ode to the Idaho Stop

Posted by on August 11th, 2010 at 2:29 pm

Self-described web developer, musician and bike geek T. J. VanSlyke, a Portland resident, has a track on his new album about the Idaho Stop law. VanSlyke describes his music as “white-boy electro rap” and the “Idaho Stop” track appears on his album “I Sold Out But No One Bought Me.”

Before sharing some of the song’s lyrics, here’s some background on the Idaho Stop for all of you who are not familiar…
Idaho Stop refers to a law on the books in the great state of Idaho wherein people on bicycles are not required to come to a complete stop before proceeding (safely, of course) through an intersection. Oregon made a very serious bid at a similar law back in 2009, but after several setbacks — including some inaccurate news coverage, some unlikely opposition (that turned out not to be), and the unfortunate timing of a personnel change at the BTA — the bill failed to win necessary support from legislators.

VanSlyke’s tune describes his encounter with the police after getting a ticket for rolling a stop sign. Here are some of the lyrics:

“Rollin on up to M.L.K., piggie to my left and I ride away… take a right turn over too many lanes, piggie don’t like that rolls my way. Piggie don’t like that rolls my way…

Roll through a stop sign looking both ways, piggie flips his sirens makes his quota today.”

And the chorus:

“This is the story about one little pig blew the money out the wallet of one punk kid. This is for all you cyclists out there who think running stop signs ain’t no serious affair.”

T. J. emailed to say the inspiration for the song came from a June 28th incident where he was cited for three moving violations (failure to obey a stop sign, improper right turn, and failure to obey a no left-turn sign) near the intersection of SE Yamhill and Martin Luther King Jr., Blvd.

T. J. admits he made the illegal maneuvers but said he did so because he was, “Unfamiliar with that stretch of MLK and was uncomfortable remaining on such a busy thoroughfare.” He did “Idaho Stop” as, “a tribute to cyclists who believe they should be permitted exceptions to the rules of the road and given privileges above and beyond those of automobiles.”

Listen to Idaho Stop and the entire album at T.J.’s page on BOP.fm (might be NSFW, so put your headphones on). The album is due out next month. Learn more about T.J. at TJVanSlyke.com.

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Comments
  • jeff August 11, 2010 at 2:42 pm

    Slow day in the news room?

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    • Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) August 11, 2010 at 2:50 pm

      jeff,
      no. it’s not really a slow news day (rarely is)… I just thought Idaho Stop becoming a rap song by a local musician was fun and interesting. i like to cover a wide range of stuff… even things that you wouldn’t consider “news”. thanks for the comment.

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  • Anonymous August 11, 2010 at 2:49 pm

    That’s exactly what the bike community needs – encouragement to break traffic laws (further straining relationships with our neighbors), and slandering the police for properly enforcing the laws. At least this kid admits that he is a punk.

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    • Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) August 11, 2010 at 2:59 pm

      anonymous,

      first… this song and t.j.’s music in general is not to be taken seriously!

      does the song encourage ppl to break the law? or does it remind people that you will get cited and fined hundreds of dollars if you do? and is “piggie” slander? It makes me cringe a bit too, but I think in this context it’s pretty harmless (i’m open to being convinced otherwise). and yes, you’re right, he does admit he was wrong.

      as for what “the bike community needs”… I really think we all need to get over thinking we’re some sort of organized “community” that has all the same needs. we’re just a big community and some of us ride bikes and some of us don’t.

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  • Teejay VanSlyke August 11, 2010 at 3:08 pm

    So I may as well defend myself. I’m a respectable citizen. My music is a joke. If you hadn’t figured that out from the absurd amount of neon dayglo hipster garb all over my website, then I’m not sure what to tell you.

    Everyone’s a critic. If you disagree with me, don’t listen to me, stop complaining, and express your disagreement your own creative endeavor.

    Sincerely,

    Teejay VanSlyke
    Punk Kid

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  • 2ManyHobbies August 11, 2010 at 3:10 pm

    Calling a police officer “piggie” isn’t slander – it’s just a childish and churlish insult. The insinuation that the ticket was issued to meet some non-existent quota is slander.

    The context that I got from the lyrics is that it was a protest type song similar to gansta rap’s glorification of the gang lifestyle. Perhaps I am totally off base here and it is indeed a public service message – which would compel me to apologize.

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  • jeff August 11, 2010 at 3:20 pm

    The music is obviously a joke, but that purple skin condition is serious. I would suggest a doctor immediately.

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  • Martie McQuain August 11, 2010 at 3:22 pm

    While driving a car the other day, I almost killed a bicyclist who Idaho stopped at a stop light. I locked up my tires and skidded to a stop, barely missing this guy. He only didn’t get hit because I was paying attention. I had a green light. I could have mowed this guy down, he would have been dead and I would have completely had the right of way legally speaking.
    I do ride my bicycle often so I am hyper-aware of and actively look for cyclists and use respect while passing. Most motorists don’t have the same awareness. My point is that if I would have been not paying attention, this dude would’ve been toast. Not following the rules of the road as a venerable road user puts you in an even more venerable position and makes you rely on others reaction and awareness. Joking about and/or promoting not breaking the rules and riding unsafely is irresponsible to say the least.

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  • Teejay VanSlyke August 11, 2010 at 3:35 pm

    Hey Martie, I think we have mutual friends — your name looks familiar.

    Expression is expression. Digest it and act as you please, but take responsibility for your own actions. I’m not harboring irresponsible behavior, nor am I committing slander. The lyrics to the song are wholly hypothetical. I make no mention of the officer’s name, and in fact, I wish him the best. I know he exists as part of a very complex bureaucratic system in which he is required to make tough decisions. I disagree with his assessment and therefore will be fighting my citation in court.

    But to say that I’m irresponsible for “promoting breaking the rules” is like saying gangsta rap causes gang violence.

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  • Jeff TB August 11, 2010 at 3:39 pm

    No need to defend yourself Teejay. We get that it’s a joke. At least most of us do. The rest never will.

    Martie, The way you describe your incident, it sounds as though the cyclist “blew a stop light”. That is different than an “Idaho stop”. If the Idaho stop law would have been in effect, he could still be ticketed.

    Glad you were paying attention.

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  • corn-fused August 11, 2010 at 3:47 pm

    So, since the music is a joke and not to be taken seriously, I’ll assume the pro Idaho-stop stance is also not to be taken seriously.

    Which leaves that it’s a parody of those who want to run stop signs imperiling themselves and others.

    Well played sir!

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  • 2ManyHobbies August 11, 2010 at 3:49 pm

    What makes me cringe is imagining this topic being featured on the O’Reilly Factor show – “bicyclists joke about flagrantly breaking the law and call our valiant police officers pigs.”

    We might not be an organized community per se, but we are perceived as one and the actions of a few affect the many.

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  • Martie McQuain August 11, 2010 at 3:58 pm

    Jeff, he probably did blow it, I didn’t see as he was in the bike lane and there was a car stopped at the light blocking him from my view. Nonetheless he shouldn’t have been in the intersection. I guess I’m trying to say that as bikers, we should be super careful and follow the law, even though the law was written for motorized traffic and can be cumbersome and annoying for cycling. And Idaho stops, while they are totally reasonable if done correctly, can have deadly consequences if done incorrectly. So be careful.

    @Teejay, we’re both on Creeper. I’ve probably met you at nick ames’ parties. And I’m not trying to diss you or your music. I just don’t like it when people break the rules because they are on a bike and think they don’t have to follow them.

    There, I’m getting off the soap box. Sorry guys and gals.

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  • SkidMark August 11, 2010 at 4:07 pm

    Martie, that’s not an Idaho stop. An Idaho stop can only be done if it is safe to proceed into the intersection. I was with you on blaming the cyclist until you admitted you didn’t see him.

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  • tony August 11, 2010 at 5:47 pm

    SkidMark and Martie,

    furthermore and Idaho Stop was NEVER proposed to be legal at a stop light, only a stop sign.

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  • naomi August 11, 2010 at 5:51 pm

    haha goodness, the comments here are so outrageously “serious”. It’s a lighthearted song about Idaho stops. When Jonah Hill calls cops “piggies” in Superbad, it’s comedy. When this guy does it in a song, it’s slander? m’k.

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  • Seager August 11, 2010 at 8:00 pm

    I can’t believe so many people in these comments don’t understand that Idaho Stops and blowing stop signs are completely different.

    The Idaho Stop Law actually decreased bike/car accidents in Idaho. It’s safer, smarter, and better. There is real world proof of that in Idaho.

    Please, educate yourselves before you come out against this law. I’d like to think that cyclists are less knee-jerky.

    Also, people who currently practice Idaho Stops, (ie going through stop signs safely without stopping), shouldn’t be thought of as bad people or hooligans. Think of it as civil disobedience in protest of a bad law.

    Idaho Stops: legalizing good behavior

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  • cupcake August 11, 2010 at 11:05 pm

    so im trying to get a new term into circulation.

    the portland stop.

    its where you keep rolling, but firmly plant one foot on the ground at the stop sign. you cant drag the foot, you need to stick it. that way your foot is stopped and therefore you stopped at the sign.

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  • istop August 11, 2010 at 11:24 pm

    I am done with your site, Jonathan. This post, combined with watching a mom (late 30s) and daughter (7 at most) roll through the stop sign at SE 34th and SE Lincoln this afternoon, and the general de-evolution of both content and comments on this site are tiresome.

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  • Michael M. August 12, 2010 at 5:08 am

    @Seager, I think the reservations many have about the Idaho Stop law is that the distinction between Idaho Stops and blowing stop signs is not always as clear cut as proponents made it out to be. The reservations are mainly about the education factor: how do you teach people what is a proper Idaho Stop and under what conditions it is an appropriate maneuver? Like it or not, there’s clarity to a law that holds “Stop means stop” that something like the Idaho Stop law undermines. And unfortunately, we all see a great deal of ignorance about how road users are supposed to operate even with the laws we have now (ignorance exhibited by both people driving cars and people riding bikes.)

    That’s not to say that Idaho stops are inherently unsafe. I’d venture to guess that 95% of Portland cyclists execute them frequently, perfectly safely. I know I do, but I also know I do it only on low-traffic streets with excellent sightlines and when the way is completely clear. I’m as confident that it is a safe maneuver under these conditions as I am that I’m unlikely to get a cited for doing it, because I simply wouldn’t do it if there was traffic around (and if there is no traffic around, by definition there are no cops around.)

    For these reasons, while I wouldn’t say I was “against this law,” I sure wasn’t very enthusiastic about it. I guess I’d say “neutral” best describes my feelings about it. I don’t know if that qualifies as “knee-jerky” in your book, but I think we would all do better to listen to each other with an open mind than to dismiss those who disagree with us as uneducated or thoughtlessly “knee-jerky.”

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  • Spiffy August 12, 2010 at 7:37 am

    that song is hilarious… too electro-rap for me to listen to over and over, but still great…

    jeff #7 – you shouldn’t make fun of people’s skin color…

    cupcake #18 – Portland stop, love it!

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  • Seager August 12, 2010 at 8:55 am

    @Michael

    I don’t think your are being knee-jerky at all. I think we could have a good debate about some of your points, but they are clearly well thought out. I don’t mind cyclists being against the law if they fully understand it, but I do feel that it is unfortunate. This law has been in real world testing for over a decade in Idaho, and has been proven to have none of the problems that you worry about – however I do understand and respect your position.

    The knee-jerky people are the ones saying “I almost killed someone who idaho stopped at a stop sign.” – They obviously don’t know what an Idaho Stop is. I only takes a tiny, minimal amount of research and reading to learn that idaho stops aren’t the same as blowing signs, and that cyclists must stop for cars if they are present. There is no excuse for coming out against a law without even trying to understand it first.

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  • Kt August 12, 2010 at 8:59 am

    I like the album name, it cracked me up.

    I’m not a fan of rap, but if it’s funny, I’ll listen to it.

    istop #19: do you take Weird Al’s songs as seriously as this one? If so, I feel sorry for you– it’s important to see the humor in things, especially when it’s shoved in your face.

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  • drew August 12, 2010 at 9:12 am

    Song cracks me up! Nice work!

    No sense in this being bikes vs cars. We all roll stop signs, with or without a motor. If you believe you stop at stop signs (when not required to yield rightofway), you are deluding yourself. We speed in our cars most of the time, and pedal the wrong way down the alley when it’s convenient. It sucks when you get cited for something we all do routinely, and makes you feel singled out unfairly. And it may just have something do with the way you are dressed, or the fact that the sport car you are driving is one the cop will never be able to afford.

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