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Old 07-31-2009, 10:00 AM
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Question Dealing with 4-way stops on group rides.

Something that's been puzzling me lately is how to best handle the issue of dealing with 4-way stops on group rides. I frequently ride with small groups of friends. At 4-way stops, our group frequently stops, and then rolls though the intersection as if we were one vehicle, rather than a number of individual riders. To some motorists, this probably makes our group seem like a bunch of scofflaws. From the group perspective, we are trying to hang together and get out of the way of cars ASAP. I try to ride courteously and not become part of the perceived 'problem' of cyclists ignoring laws, but it seems there are times that exceptions can be reasonably justified. Anyone have any opinions or insights on this ethical/legal quandary? What is the maximum number of riders that should go as a group at 4-way stop intersections, without allowing cars their turn to go?

Last edited by RonC; 07-31-2009 at 01:36 PM.
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Old 07-31-2009, 11:39 AM
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I was once told that in Washington the State traffic code says that only two cyclists may proceed from a stop at the same time, riding abreast. Haven't been able to confirm that, however. Can't speak for Oregon.

Just checked the Washington RCW 46 and cannot find anything about bikes stopping at stop signs. It only says they must obey all traffic laws. If you take that literally, then only one bike can proceed at a time. I see nothing wrong with two or three bikes abreast proceeding at the same time after stopping. It does bother me when 15 bikes roll through in a loose group that spans the length of an 18-wheeler. That usually means the last few bikes probably don't even stop.

Last edited by scdurs; 07-31-2009 at 12:15 PM.
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Old 07-31-2009, 12:24 PM
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I agree that this is one area where a compromise with the letter of the law is reasonable. IMO having more than 4 people riding through at the same time is probably pushing it.

Scott
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Old 08-03-2009, 08:22 AM
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A Washington County Sherriff once said, in a meeting I was in that:

"You've got to stop. But if a bunch of you stop together, you can all proceed together"

So no tailgaiting through with a group that has stopped and is going, if you haven't stopped.
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Old 08-03-2009, 11:05 AM
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Lynnef, that's very interesting. It leaves me wondering if that's an official Washington Co. policy, or just the sheriff you spoke to? It would be nice if there was a state-wide policy on the issue. I could easily imagine how I could be riding through Hillsboro and get a ticket from the local police for doing exactly what the Washington County sheriff described. I guess I'd be a little more comfortable if there was a law clarifying this on the books.
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Old 08-03-2009, 02:36 PM
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I myself would worry more about North Plains.

I always stop. Always. And then I go, when it is my turn. No problems to date; I've been riding out here for almost 20 years.

Can't speak to officialness of the statement. I'm sure it is all interpretation of the law, which says nothing about bikes stopping and going one at a time.

Common sense says that if bikes stop and go in clumps, there's less chance of slowing down an intersection than if they stop and go one at a time. Especially if there are other road users behind them
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Old 08-03-2009, 02:42 PM
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I hear you. I was going to say North Plains, but then decided to use an example with less baggage attached.
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Old 08-03-2009, 06:51 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RonC View Post
Lynnef, that's very interesting. It leaves me wondering if that's an official Washington Co. policy, or just the sheriff you spoke to? It would be nice if there was a state-wide policy on the issue. I could easily imagine how I could be riding through Hillsboro and get a ticket from the local police for doing exactly what the Washington County sheriff described. I guess I'd be a little more comfortable if there was a law clarifying this on the books.
It is a state wide policy. It's really simple. You come to a stop sign, by law you are required to stop. Everyone is, just the same as in a car. It doesn't matter if its a four way stop, one way, two way, or six way. If you choose not to come to a stop thats fine, but you might pay one for not stopping, or worse.
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Old 08-03-2009, 06:53 PM
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More over, state law says bicycles on the road are vehicles, and therefore, bicyclists must obey the same law as motor vehicles. It's that simple.
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Old 08-03-2009, 10:44 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bikerinNE View Post
More over, state law says bicycles on the road are vehicles, and therefore, bicyclists must obey the same law as motor vehicles. It's that simple.
Generally speaking, I'd have to agree to agree with that. From a practical perspective looking to move as many bikes as safely and efficiently as possible through an intersection, 3 abreast, or as many bikes as can be on the line at one time seems desirable. If the people on the bikes at the line work to depart from it basically in unison, moving through the intersection this way shouldn't have the undesirable effect of confusing or burdening other road users.

It's an interesting problem. I've ridden on group rides, and seen how a large, uncoordinated cluster or mass of bikes attempting to move through a traffic controlled intersection can be unwittingly chaotic, inconsiderate and unnerving for other road users at the other points of the intersection, not to mention dangerous for the people riding on the bikes.

If a cluster of people on bikes could somehow understand how to move in unison through an intersection, it might work out for as many bikes as would fit in the footprint of a car or even an 18 wheeler. The difference in time it takes for a single bike, an car, or an 18 wheeler to pass through an intersection is not much.
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