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Exclusive: BTA will go for “Idaho style” stop sign law

Posted by on January 14th, 2009 at 11:45 pm

salmon street stop sign

The BTA hopes to make
it legal to roll through
stop signs.
(Photos © J. Maus)

The Bicycle Transportation Alliance (BTA), a Portland-based non-profit with over 5,000 members statewide, has proposed a new law that would make it legal to roll through a stop sign while riding a bicycle in Oregon.

In an interview this afternoon, BTA lobbyist Karl Rohde said the bill language is currently being drafted in Salem and it will be officially known as the “Idaho Stop Law”.

“We feel the law needs to change to reflect the safe behavior that’s happening now,” said Rohde, “Coming to a complete stop isn’t necessary for a vehicle (bicycle) that does not pose the same threat to other road users and whose operators have a greater awareness of their surroundings.”

In a set of frequently asked questions prepared by the BTA (I’ve posted them on Page Two and they’ll be published on the BTA’s Blog Thursday morning), they explain it like this:

This law would make it legal for bicyclists to treat stop signs like yield signs. A cyclist approaching an intersection controlled by a stop sign, would be permitted to roll through the stop sign after yielding the right of way if there are other vehicles at the intersection.

Our day on Capitol Hill-19.jpg

The BTA’s man in Salem, Karl Rohde.

Rohde said the language of their bill will be very similar to an existing law in the state of Idaho which has been on the books since 1982 (and by most accounts, it has been implemented without incident and without negative impacts on traffic safety). A similar bill (HB 2768) was introduced in Oregon in 2003. It passed the House but did not make it through the Senate (read our analysis of the 2003 effort).

The Oregon legislature is full of new faces this session, and several of them are likely to be big supporters of the BTA’s Idaho Stop Law. Rohde says that newly elected state representative Jules Bailey (D-Portland) has already pledged his enthusiastic support. Other supporters are likely to include Floyd Prozanski (D-Lane County), Jackie Dingfelder (D-Portland), Jason Atkinson (R-Central Point) and others.

“…changing the law would eliminate the argument that cyclists are always breaking the law when they are actually acting in a very rational manner.”
— from an FAQ published by the BTA

The BTA’s Legislative Committee has researched this issue for several months. Noted lawyer Ray Thomas is on that committee and is an ardent supporter of the Idaho stop law concept. He published a lengthy article in November that refutes many concerns some people have about the law.

Another member of the BTA’s Legislative Committee that has pushed for this is Bjorn Warloe. You might remember Warloe as the citizen activist who spearheaded an attempt to push for the “Idaho Style” law back in 2007. Warloe received interest for his effort from State Senator Jason Atkinson, but it never progressed into becoming an actual bill.

Bjorn Warloe is on the
BTA’s Legislative Committee.

The BTA’s proposal would apply to all stop signs in the state. There’s also a provision in the law that would allow cities to require bikes to come to a complete stop at certain intersections (cities would choose those on a case-by-case basis). In Idaho, the law has recently been extended to include stop lights as well, but that is not something the BTA will pursue at this time.

(According to Rohde, the BTA Board had concerns over the stop light portion of the proposal and he feels it has a better chance of being passed if it only applies to stop signs.)

Rohde says he’s optimistic that the proposal will become law. “Even for people that don’t bike and are not initially receptive this idea, once you explain it to them, they understand why it’s needed.” One tactic Rohde has found works well in explaining the proposal is to equate it to walking. “When you walk up to an intersection in a neighborhood and no one’s around,” he said, “you don’t come to a complete stop. You just look around and then go if it’s safe. We’re just applying that same logic to biking.”

For the BTA, passage of the Idaho Stop Law would accomplish many things, including:

  • It would make biking easier and more efficient (having to stop unnecessarily is a “deterrant to many people”),
  • it would put an end to the long and controversial legacy of Police enforcement actions (a.k.a. “stings”) at stop signs so they could “focus more of their limited resources on high-risk intersections”,
  • it would “eliminate the argument that cyclists are always breaking the law when they are actually acting in a very rational manner.”

The BTA seems to have done their homework on this one. With their preparation and experience on this issue — along with the benefit of 27 years of successful implementation in Idaho and a legislature full of new, young lawmakers — 2009 might be the year Oregon finally goes “Idaho style”.

But even with many stars aligned, stop signs are one of those issues in the bike world (like helmets, fixed-gear bikes, licensing, and so on) that have potential to be controversial. How the media handles this could play an important role in its success (or failure). In 2003, many people think it was the media’s coverage of HB 2768 that ultimately led to its demise.

What do you think about this idea? Is it a no-brainer that will improve biking? Should the BTA just leave the law as-is? Is this a battle worth fighting? Let us know your thoughts.

— We have covered the Idaho stop law extensively. Browse our “Idaho Stop Law” tag for previous stories. In particular, we published guest pro/con editorials in February of 2007: David Dean wrote in support of changing stop sign laws for bikes and law student Rick Bernardi wrote in opposition to the idea. We have also just published an FAQ prepared by the BTA. The Idaho style stop law is also being proposed in Montana. Stay tuned for more coverage.

UPDATE: The BTA has published more on their reasons for pushing this law.

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  • John Russell January 14, 2009 at 11:51 pm

    Well, even as a Washingtonian, I’m quite exited. Too bad that they can’t include the part about stop lights, as there will always be some that just don’t work, even after calling them in. With the stop light law, I might also worry that now there would be no incentive for faulty detection loops to get fixed to sense bikes.

    Keep up to good work, BTA!

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  • Travis Wittwer January 14, 2009 at 11:55 pm

    I think one of the largest arguments will be that some imagine people of bikes blazing through stop signs. I like the prudent use of the word “roll” in this and other posts on the topic.

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  • mark January 14, 2009 at 11:56 pm

    first of all I don’t believe that having to come to a stop at stop signs is a “detterant” to people riding bikes, but I do think this would be a good idea.

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  • Jonathan Maus (Editor) January 14, 2009 at 11:56 pm


    an interesting note: the reason Idaho added the stop light provision was because they realized it would be much cheaper (as in free) to just let bikes roll through, than to go and retrofit all the streets with loop detectors that could sense bicycles (I’m not kidding, that is really why they did it.)

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  • mark January 14, 2009 at 11:57 pm

    oops, I mean deterrant. anyway, I have a feeling this wouldn’t pass because people would be afraid bikers would abuse the definition of the word “yield”.

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  • Jonathan Maus (Editor) January 15, 2009 at 12:00 am

    “first of all I don’t believe that having to come to a stop at stop signs is a “detterant” to people riding bikes, “

    one reason the BTA wants this to pass is because n’hoods have fought to put many stop signs on their streets in order to deter and slow down car traffic… but unfortunately those are the same types of streets the City is increasingly wanting to use as bike routes… but the only thing keeping them from being great routes for bikes is that they’re full of stop signs.

    according to the BTA, this law will hopefully maintain the traffic calming the n’hoods want, while making the streets more efficient and attractive for bike traffic.

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  • mark January 15, 2009 at 12:03 am

    oh yeah, I see what you mean. that makes sense, because it’s true, there are a lot of streets that I like to ride through that have a ton of stop signs, which I pretty much always do the “Idaho stop” with anyway.

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  • antload January 15, 2009 at 1:09 am

    Holy cats! I’ve had a burning desire to see this happen. I’ve felt that the burden was going to be on me to get this ball rolling! So happy that instead I can support the pros from the periphery!

    The logic is so painfully obvious. Under current traffic law conditions, when cyclists and motorists meet at a 4-way stop, frequently everybody is confused. Most motorists half-way expect cyclists to roll through, regardless of who gets there first. Lack of law enforcement helps to maintain this state. Cyclists who DO want to stop often find themselves in a weird and sketchy stand-off with motorist who are afraid to proceed. Police are seemingly uncomfortable with busting (“harassing”) cyclists who roll through, regardless of how they roll through; therefore, the violators persist and confusion persists. Voting motorists continue to be fearful and angry.

    I think this Idaho style could make it easier for police to bust any and all cyclist that might continue to make intersections confusing. Intersections would become safer. Under Idaho-style law, busting “yield” violators would probably NOT be perceived as “harassment”. I make this hopeful prediction because the new law would obviously support the needs of cyclists; therefore, breaking the new law might be universally identified as egregious. Intersections would become MUCH more predictable.

    Now I must say that Portland seems to have the most lawful, respectful, and predictable cyclists around when compared to NY, SF, Seattle, etc – so intersections are not as bad as they could be. However, this kind of legislation would make them so much better and would create stronger precedent to encourage other cities to follow suit…

    A promotion of efficiency AND safety that could net cyclists more respect and more ease. I love you, BTA. Godspeed.

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  • justa January 15, 2009 at 1:14 am

    I am all about this!

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  • Aaron January 15, 2009 at 1:37 am

    I must say that even being a big advocate for bikes, I have mixed feelings about this. I roll through stop signs quite often, but always while slowing and looking both ways twice (and even then I occasionally have to stop short for a car or person).
    I’ve seen bicyclists go through intersections without looking carefully even without this law and I’ve seen pedestrians have to get out of the way.
    From news on this site, it appears that Idaho stops are working fine across the border. Is that possibly because it’s more suburban and fewer people walk? Or do cyclists slow and use caution?
    What do you all think?

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  • Bjorn January 15, 2009 at 2:00 am


    I think in part it is because the law makes sense and so people are more likely to follow it, while the police can spend their time enforcing only dangerous maneuvers. It is still under this proposed law entirely illegal to ride at a high rate of speed through an intersection, or to fail to yield to another vehicle or a pedestrian who has the right of way. No one is advocating unsafe riding, rather we are advocating a change in the law to permit cyclists to slowly and cautiously transit through empty intersections without coming to a complete stop.

    Most cyclists have a pretty keen sense of self preservation, and while the occasional scofflaw may still exist under the new law Police resources will be freed up to focus on those few rather than on the majority of cyclists whose behavior is safe.

    As you point out it is working very well in Idaho. I’ve talked to Idaho State Troopers, Boise Police, members of a Boise bicycling club, employees of the Idaho Department of Transportation, as well as Senators and Representatives and they all agreed that the law is safe and successful.

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  • Scott Mizée January 15, 2009 at 5:48 am

    Go IDAHO!

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  • Afro Biker January 15, 2009 at 6:20 am

    This makes no sense. Changing the law to match currently illegal behavior? What’s next? Is stopping that difficult?

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  • peejay January 15, 2009 at 6:27 am

    My over/under for # of comments to this story: 150. Place your bets, folks!

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  • Scott Mizée January 15, 2009 at 6:45 am

    ummmm Afro Biker?

    you sound like an prohibitionist during the days when it was illegal to consume alcohol. Just because the current law prohibits it does not mean the current law makes sense. Have you not read the logical arguments on this subject?

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  • Joe January 15, 2009 at 6:58 am

    I use that method quite a bit, careful with
    on coming traffic it seems a larger object
    likes to try and beat you across, yeah im racing cars,, NOT.. anyway, it becomes a rat race somedays..

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  • a.O January 15, 2009 at 7:15 am

    I – D – A – H – O,



    GO, GO, GO!!

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  • Scott Mizée January 15, 2009 at 7:18 am

    a.O? what’s that I hear? Is there a fellow Vandal in the midst? I had that in my head, but just sufficed with a simple “GO IDAHO!”

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  • Kris January 15, 2009 at 7:18 am

    If you are an amputee cyclist the Idaho Law makes a lot of sense. Current law if followed mens that everytime an amputee comes to a stop sign, they have to stop, which means taking the artificial foot out of the toe strap so the foot can touch the ground. Starting back up the amputee has to reach down and put the artificial foot back on the peddle and into the toe strap. This requires looking at what you are doing so your eyes are not on the road. Makes a lot of sense!!!!. for this reason, most of my encounters with stop signs involve Idaho Stops.

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  • r January 15, 2009 at 7:30 am

    BTA should take the opportunity to at least put in a provision that says if there is a loop detector and it is not sufficiently sensitive to detect your bike, you can treat it as broken and treat the light as a stop sign with cross traffic dominant. also would not be a bad idea to include in each of these legislative initiatives a push to get rid of the mandatory sidepath law that says you have to use a striped lane whenever it is provided . . .

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  • bahueh January 15, 2009 at 7:51 am

    its gonna be a nightmare unless the BTA would like to also mandate comprehensive, state wide, mandatory driver re-education …the majority of cyclists I see in this town are already running stop signs….tell them they have a law to do it now and some will increase their speed just as drivers do on freeways when speed limits are increased or eliminated (e.g. Montana in the late ’90s)…no increased prevalence of highway accidents then, but more and more of them had deadly outcomes.

    I agree that there are a BIG surplus of pointless stop signs in some neighborhoods…but wouldn’t a more prudent solution be to remove stop signs, not change the laws so a special interest group can have it “their way” so they can save about 60 seconds on their commute to work or whatever?
    I’m all for large speed bumps…slows down traffic in neighborhoods….doesn’t stop cyclists.

    funny how everyone here has their own personal reason how/why they run stop signs….reads like a justification laundry list…but has anyone here stopped to notice that Oregon is NOT Idaho…in no way, shape, or form? Population densities are different….mentalities are different…
    infrastructure is different.

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  • Maculsay January 15, 2009 at 8:02 am

    Speed bumps seem to have mixed results where I live… lots of scraping sounds as car bumpers hit the pavement. I agree with bahueh on the likelihood of some riders abusing the law. Portland is definitely NOT like cities in Idaho…

    I’m still holding out on my Bud Clark donation until I feel the BTA isn’t too big for it’s britches. Too many other smaller orgs that need the cash…

    I’ve managed to come to complete stops without feet down on most tumbleweed intersections. I never thought I would be able to, after 45 years of running stop signs. That’s just me, of course.

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  • maybe motorcycles January 15, 2009 at 8:38 am

    shouldn’t have to stop at stop signs either. I can just see the law suits pile up, as drivers hit bicyclists flying through the intersection.

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  • Bjorn January 15, 2009 at 8:47 am

    #21 Actually the city of Portland and the city of Boise have very similar population densities, Portland’s being only about 30% higher. If you remove the very dense downtown core where due to higher traffic rates the law would apply far less often the densities are even closer.

    In talking to folks from IDOT about this issue they did not express the feeling that the law as less safe or less successful depending on density level. What happens is that in crowded places with more traffic interactions most cyclists continue to stop at the intersections where a yield is required. In fact compliance at the dangerous intersection may even be higher once the frequent unnecessary stops are eliminated.

    I believe many people in Portland have an unrealistic view of Idaho as being much smaller and much more rural but when you take both states as a whole both have rural and urban areas that are in fact quite similar to one another in many ways.

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  • velocipede January 15, 2009 at 8:51 am

    Oregon is NOT Idaho…in no way, shape, or form…

    That’s patently absurd. Of course all the important factors are the same. The cars and bikes work the same way, the humans think the same way, the laws are virtually identical, etc. And ID has a dense urban area, Boise, where there are bike commuters and there have been NO PROBLEMS with this law.

    Take your personal grudge with the scofflaw cyclists offline. You’ve got no FACTS to show a problem with this law and your “different mentalities” is a vague and desperate stab to justify more whining. And speaking of nothing constructive to offer, I’ll be looking forward to more of that with the ensuing personal insults.

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  • Andrew H January 15, 2009 at 9:05 am

    I am so happy to see this proposal move forward.

    I’m no good at track stand stops… and I’m tired of being paranoid of getting a ticket when I sneak through a stop without putting my foot down. I really don’t think that the change will make car-bike encounters any more confusing than they already are. Blasting by a stop sign will still be a violation… and asking officers to judge an appropriate ‘yield’ wouldn’t be any tougher than enforcing the ‘stop for pedestrians’ law (is the ped actually crossing or waiting and did the ped give the motorist enough space and time to stop, for example) or any of the other judgment calls they make every day.

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  • Oliver January 15, 2009 at 9:07 am

    “When you walk up to an intersection in a neighborhood and no one’s around,” he said, “you don’t come to a complete stop. You just look around and then go if it’s safe. We’re just applying that same logic to biking.”

    This is something that often irritates me. So many pedestrians in neighborhoods just outside of downtown, refuse to even look, much less stop. They march right up and into the street, pointedly refusing to look around or make eye contact with operators of heavy machinery (ie cars).

    You can always tell the ones who know exactly where you are, because they are the ones who are looking anywhere but at you (is it really that hard to check your pace by two-half steps to allow other road users to continue on their way?) Everyone older than two knows you look both directions before you cross.

    In downtown, it seems like a free-for-all. I’ve resorted to an m.o. of “If they’re walkin’, I’m ridin” regardless of light. I’ll admit that seems a bit counter-productive (2 wrongs and all that), but it also may seem counter intuitive but I feel safer in the downtown core than at any other place on my commute.

    But, back to topic. One more vote for the Idaho stop law!

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  • a.O January 15, 2009 at 9:14 am

    Oliver (# 27), you seem to be under the impression that the motor vehicle has the right-of-way over the pedestrian in the situation you describe. It’s the opposite, if the pedestrian steps into the street without causing an imminent hazard. Is it so hard to tap your brake for a moment to allow other road users to continue on their way? And as for pretending not to see others, I see people driving motor vehicles do this all the damn time.

    And Scott Mizee (# 18), I am not a Vandal, but a Huskie. I just love the ID fight song and think it fits perfectly here.

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  • r January 15, 2009 at 9:16 am

    excuse me, 27, but pedestrians have the right of way. you can look both directions, but that pedestrian who steps out anyway and makes you slow down? that’s me. is it really that hard for you to check your (driving) pace by five or ten mph to allow another road user to continue on her way?

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  • Zaphod January 15, 2009 at 9:17 am

    Oh how I tire of position that coming to a complete stop is a noble and honorable thing. Like stopping will prevent poverty or save the children. The Idaho law is sensible.

    It seems that some people on this site have the same attitude about cyclists as motorists. That we’re all scofflaw cyclists and will just blaze every red octagon we see.

    My prediction is that those who thread the needle at a sign or light will continue to do so. Those that ride safely will continue to do so.

    It would be easy to argue the point that the yield sign itself is dangerous. The argument would go, “Cars will be crashing into each other all the time. They need a stop sign!”

    Most of us know how to safely handle ourselves on a bike.

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  • bahueh January 15, 2009 at 9:17 am

    velocipede …have you actually been to Boise and driven around?

    my statements would be more obvious in fact if you have….so I’m guessing the answer is NO.

    I have no personal grudge…but you seem to have cornered the market on whining.

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  • a January 15, 2009 at 9:27 am

    with deference to the good people of idaho, i don’t think this law is a good one.

    remove the offending signs and install speed bumps; or close off access to cars every few blocks in neighborhoods so that there aren’t clear shots thru neighborhoods

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  • Scott Mizée January 15, 2009 at 9:33 am

    I’m not velocipede, but I HAVE been to Boise and I HAVE driven and riden around there. I can tell you that this law absolutely makes as much sense here in Portland as it does and did in Boise.

    Having lived and bike commuted in both Boise and Portland for a number of years, I strongly disagree with your statement in #21 & #31. Neither of them hold water. There are many essentials to pedestrian and bicycle travel in Idaho’s urban areas that directly translate to Oregon’s urban areas.

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  • Scott Mizée January 15, 2009 at 9:35 am

    a in #32.

    Do you realize the associated $$$ with what you are suggesting? That is ludicrous and fiscally irresponsible!

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  • Richard January 15, 2009 at 9:37 am

    #23: You’re hinting at a slippery slope that doesn’t really lead anywhere. Bicycles are not mopeds and mopeds are not motorcycles.

    #21: A few well-placed news stories might be sufficient. And maybe an added question on driver licensing tests. The issue isn’t all that complicated.

    #10: You set a good example. And there’s a special place in hell for inconsiderate, irresponsible, self-righteous cyclists. This law might not change their behavior, but it will make riding better for the rest of us.

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  • Meg January 15, 2009 at 9:39 am

    I’m sort of undecided on this, with #32. This seems like a legislative hack to address the symptom rather than the cause. I suppose in the interim it’s cheaper and quicker than dealing with the real causes (e.g. better traffic calming systems for cars), but I’m worried that this will encourage us to ignore it indefinitely.

    I remember at least one incident, too, where I’ve been in the big evil metal box, and nearly had two people on bikes slam into the car because they didn’t even check their speed through a stop sign in inner SE. I’m worried that a law like this would encourage that behavior due to people misunderstanding its intent.

    Maybe not, maybe not. It would definitely be nice to eliminate the gray area for people who come to a “near stop” and don’t want to have to do something extra for fear of getting a meaningless ticket (myself included).

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  • velocipede January 15, 2009 at 9:41 am

    Yes, I have driven, biked, and walked around Boise. Scott mizee is right (# 33). You’ve got no facts, just a personal grudge against the scofflaws amongst us that substitutes for a principled argument as to why this law would cause problems in Portland and elsewhere in Oregon that it has NOT caused in Boise and elsewhere in Idaho.

    If you don’t like the law, fair enough. But the argument that it will cause problems is *seriously* weakened by simply observing the State where it is in effect and seeing that those concerns are NOT REALITY.

    This isn’t a hypothetical. It has been tried, and it has WORKED.

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  • Spork January 15, 2009 at 9:57 am

    On bike designated lanes, such as 19th or Umatilla or pick any other you use, anywhere, install another smaller sign added to the list below the 4 way marker on stop signs that says “BIKE YIELD” NO change in laws and bikers get where they need faster.

    That said, congrats to BTA for going to bat.

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  • bahueh January 15, 2009 at 9:59 am

    Not sure where some here are getting their numbers, but the 2006 concensus had the population of Boise at 198,000, with a great metro. population of about 600,000
    Portland, at that same time, had a population of ~570,000 with a greater metro. population of over 2.1 million…

    so tell me, exact how is PDX just like Boise in that regard? The streets of Boise are wider, allowing for more visibility for both drivers and cyclists…there is less dense vegetation growing at intersection allowing for greater visibility also. There are fewer people driving on those roads and fewer cyclists per capita using those streets…

    I get it, veloci-whatever…you want to run stop signs…hey, knock yourself out.
    If you get hit by a car, I’m sure folks here will throw a fundraiser for ya. I mean we sure as hell haven’t had enough dead cyclists in town the past couple years…lets make laws which might help increase those numbers, eh?

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  • Zaphod January 15, 2009 at 9:59 am

    ending the pain

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  • wsbob January 15, 2009 at 10:01 am

    After this hits the mainstream media…probably soon, if not today, I suspect Oregon legislators are going to start getting lots of communication from Oregon voters objecting a law biased on this proposal that will favor people riding bikes over those driving motor vehicles. That’s aside from the fact that even though people riding bikes are excited about a ‘roll through’ exemption for their mode of transportation, and despite Montana’s success rate with the law, it’s probably not a smart measure for Oregon. I guess BTA’s proposal is one way to find out.

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  • Scott Mizée January 15, 2009 at 10:02 am

    bahueh you’ve completely missed the point… and thrown in a bunch more rubbish just to confuse the conversation…

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  • Scott Mizée January 15, 2009 at 10:03 am

    wsbob… I lost you there… I’m not clear how Montana has had success with this law yet? did I miss something? I thought it was only Idaho…

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  • E January 15, 2009 at 10:03 am


    One more vote for logic in the legal system.
    Jerks on bikes who blow intersections in a dangerous manner would still be operating illegally, while perfectly safe cyclists behaving rationally would finally be legal. Go Oregon!

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  • gabriel amadeus January 15, 2009 at 10:08 am

    ZOMG YAY!I never thought the BTA would get behind this one! Thank you.

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  • alex January 15, 2009 at 10:08 am

    While i am all for an idaho style stop law (with red light provisions) i feel that a vehicular manslaughter law is far far more important.

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  • velocipede January 15, 2009 at 10:14 am

    Bah – whatever, I see that yet again you have to make this personal. My handle and what I do at stopsigns are IRRELEVANT.

    Population size and density are not the same. The vegitation density thing is laughably desperate. And even assuming everything you said was true, you have no evidence to show that those differences would somehow cause problems in Oregon. On the other hand, we have ample evidence to show THAT THE LAW WORKS.

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  • bahueh January 15, 2009 at 10:26 am

    please, velocipede…define to us all “how the law works”….and what exactly is it doing to “work”….

    Population density in PDX is more so than Boise…period. You’re asking for proof that does not exist…however supporting a proposed law based on what does not exist is equally futile.

    You’re fun to play with….

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  • bahueh January 15, 2009 at 10:27 am

    Scott..please enlighten me if you can…
    its may only be rubbish to you since it probably doesn’t fit your agenda..

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  • Scott Mizée January 15, 2009 at 10:39 am

    now your just plain having fun, bahueh. 🙂

    This debate would be an exhilarating one to have in a room face to face with all of us.

    “doesn’t fit your agenda” We are all advocating for our own agenda–no matter which side you are on. I said it was rubbish because it was a red herring.

    The rubbish I was referring to was this:

    so tell me, exact how is PDX just like Boise in that regard? The streets of Boise are wider, allowing for more visibility for both drivers and cyclists…there is less dense vegetation growing at intersection allowing for greater visibility also. There are fewer people driving on those roads and fewer cyclists per capita using those streets…

    o I don’t know what neighborhoods in Boise you lived in (or did you), but I’d have a hard time recalling any that had noticably wider streets than Portland.
    o vegetation at intersections? you aren’t seriously trying to make this case, are you? I’d like to see one bit of empirical evidence that this has a significant effect on intersection use in Boise vs. Portland.
    o Regarding quantity of people and per capita of people riding bikes–yes, the numbers are most likely different here–however the burden of proof is still on you to show that the numerical differences translate into a difference in experiences or effectiveneess

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  • bikieboy January 15, 2009 at 10:47 am

    This makes me very glad I just re-upped as a member.

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  • bahueh January 15, 2009 at 10:48 am

    Scott…precisely. 🙂
    I’ve been through Boise plenty of times (never lived there) but what I recall, as I did comparisons to their bike infrastructure, was that most of the downtown area have MUCH wider double lanes than does Portland, by far. I know this is mostly for reasons of snow removal. The secondary arterial streest also appeared wider to me….as no surprise seeing as PDX is a VERY old, establish port city which was not originally designed for snow removal, and has generally much more narrow streets compared to other large, urban areas (ever seen the width of the streets in downtown SLC? This leads to the problem of further crowding bike lanes/infrastructure into much less space compared to downtown Boise (or Idaho Falls…or Pocatello..or wherever else). Empirical evidence is impossible, but I have first hand experience in realizing the ability to see through/around intersections in this town is greatly hindered by the sole amount of trees/shrubs in the more established neighborhoods…the vegetation in Boise is much more spares (duh, its a desert), however I”m not under the misguided assumption that the stop sign laws there were created with bushes in mind.

    my original point had more to do with comprehensive driver re-education..but veloci-whatever wanted to rail against the more mundane. whatever…I’ll give 10$ towards his medical bills.

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  • velocipede January 15, 2009 at 10:53 am

    You got nothin, huey. Nothin.

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  • Marc January 15, 2009 at 11:02 am

    BTA rawks!

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  • peejay January 15, 2009 at 11:03 am


    Please provide density charts to back up your theory that Boise is less dense than Portland, since population figures alone prove nothing about density. But of course you could always just keep moving the goal posts, now that you found out that velocipede has in fact been to Boise.

    (sigh). I can see that the overs are gonna win.

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  • chelsea January 15, 2009 at 11:03 am

    Yay! It makes so much sense! If this goes through, I will have to stop being so jaded about politics and society’s capacity to actually think rationally and change things for the better.

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  • Ryan January 15, 2009 at 11:06 am

    The Montana bill that is being proposed “removes the requirement that cyclists must signal a turn or a stop ‘…if the hand is needed in the control or operation of the bicycle,” according to the link They state that these laws are based off of adult bikes using coaster brakes.

    The goal of the bill is to legalize bicyclists’ keeping their hands on the handlebars during hazardous conditions.

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  • peejay January 15, 2009 at 11:07 am


    You will, however, have to worry about bahueh’s capacity for same.

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  • MattD January 15, 2009 at 11:09 am

    I’d love to see this become a law. I don’t think its going to require more driver education because its the responsibility of the cyclist to make the yield / stop based on the traffic that is there or not, not the driver. If a cyclist “blows through” a stop sign and gets hit by a car, they would have broken the law in either case.

    So, anyone want to take a guess on how many of the stop signs in North Plains that end up being a mandatory full stop? 🙂

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  • Curt Dewees January 15, 2009 at 11:12 am

    I’m really glad the BTA is getting on board with this initiative! I have many bicyclist friends who are thoughtful, intelligent, and progressive-minded people but who [until now] have been leery of joining the BTA because they felt the BTA wasn’t doing much to promote their interests. Now that the BTA is fully supporting this initiative, I hope these friends will now feel more enthusiastic about joining forces with the BTA and working together to move Oregon forward!

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  • Coyote January 15, 2009 at 11:13 am

    Pursuing this change is a good thing. Whether it makes it through the process or not, the discussion will be of value. I urge you to contact your congressmen and show support for this change. Floyd will be getting my letter this afternoon.

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  • junixrose January 15, 2009 at 11:16 am

    This law doesn’t even effect downtown traffic as those are stop lights, not stop signs. Population density and history is irrelevant. The question is does it work on streets where stop signs are likely to be found.

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  • SkidMark January 15, 2009 at 11:22 am

    “Coming to a complete stop isn’t necessary for a vehicle (bicycle) that does not pose the same threat to other road users and whose operators have a greater awareness of their surroundings.”

    I would get rid of “and whose operators have a greater awareness of their surroundings”. For one, it’s not necessarily true. It makes bicyclists sound like they are better than other roads users. Also, motorcyclists have to be at least as aware as bicyclists if they want to stay alive. They are just as much victims of right hooks and left turn “I didn’t see hims” as bicyclists are. A motorcycle should have to stop at a stop sign though.

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  • Brenda January 15, 2009 at 11:24 am

    Will this apply to highway crossings? Like out across Hwy 26 west at Roy? I’ve seen bicyclist blast through there without even looking. Luckily none of them got hit, but they could have.

    Now, I’m all for ‘rolling’ through a stop sign, but define rolling and continuous biking without excelleration.

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  • Matthew Denton January 15, 2009 at 11:28 am

    In Portland you can report loop detectors that you can’t trigger:

    I’ve reported a few. It takes a couple days for them to fix them, but they come out and adjust the sensitivity and paint the little symbol on the ground so that you know where to stop, and then everything works. (One time they even called me afterward to let me know that it had been fixed.) If everyone would report the ones in the routes that they use, then there wouldn’t be any loop detectors that didn’t work anymore anywhere…

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  • bobcycle January 15, 2009 at 11:28 am

    Holy Cow, Batman!!! I must be dreaming! A President I can be proud of and BTA seeing the light about the stop sign thing all in January 2009. What a way to start the year!

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  • Jeff TB January 15, 2009 at 11:31 am

    Maybe this is being addressed by BTA but haven’t had time to look:

    What about the potential for increased bike/pedestrian incidents resulting from this law (you know..close calls, buzz-by, etc.).

    I’ll bet that many neighborhoods will be concerned about this.

    Seems like that is the complaint coming from Ladd’s Addition regarding stop sign runners.

    Proaction on this issue seems prudent.

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  • Kt January 15, 2009 at 11:34 am

    “Coming to a complete stop isn’t necessary for a vehicle (bicycle) that does not pose the same threat to other road users and whose operators have a greater awareness of their surroundings.”

    Ironic– a lot of cyclists I see are plugged into their i-pods or cell phones. How is that having a greater awareness of their surroundings?

    Irony aside…. I also have mixed feelings about this law. There is a segment of the cycling population that can’t currently be bothered to even slow down at stop signs, much less yield to others, or stop. Also, I don’t see what’s so difficult about stopping and starting again. It’s not as big a barrier to new cyclists as some would like to think, in my opinion.

    On the other hand, as a ped, I don’t come to a complete stop at each intersection if no one’s around. I would hazard that most car drivers don’t, either.

    It will be interesting, that’s for sure!

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  • buglas January 15, 2009 at 11:34 am

    Today, if I blow a stop sign at high speed I have earned a ticket. If I roll through at a more modest speed, I have still earned a ticket. If I go through at any speed and into the path of a car, I’m at fault for any resulting accident and have earned a ticket if I survive.

    As I understand it, if this law passes the only one of those scenarios that changes is that I don’t earn a ticket for rolling through at a modest speed when there is no cross traffic.

    As MattD #58 notes, it shouldn’t require driver education. The responsibility would still be mine as a cyclist to not launch myself in front of them. Ok, maybe a little driver education so they know I’ll still have to take turns at a four way stop.

    Should this law pass and I don’t wish to take advantage of it, I can still stop at stop signs, although this may raise the ire of any cyclists following me closely.

    I’m not seeing a downside.

    And for the record, I’m one of those folks who are pretty anal about stopping at stop signs. I’m modeling safe behavior for a daughter who is still picking up some street smarts and I want her to err on the side of caution.

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  • istop January 15, 2009 at 11:36 am

    I understand the support for changing the law, but I am not convinced that it will do anything expect reduce the number of citations.

    My concern is not with “scofflaws” careening through stops signs. It seems we all agree that agressive behavior is not acceptable. My concern is with all the kind souls who make poor decisions or who cannot understand what it means to simply yeild the right of way.

    Some examples from the past few days. For context, my daily commute is from SE 50th down Lincoln, through Ladds, to the trail and then South to Sellwood.

    This morning, waiting for the light at 39th and Lincoln, two cars waiting to turn left southbound onto 39th turn signals blinking, traffic light turns green, and two cyclists pass both cars on the left. This was not agressive, it was careless and selfish.

    A few mornings ago, same intersection, it is not quite light out, traffic light is red, two eastbound cars waiting to turn left northbound from Lincoln to 39th turn signals blinking, light turns green, a father towing a bike trailer passes both vehicles (one a large truck) while urging his other young kid to hurry up on his bicycle behind his dad. Not agressive, but (as a parent) clearly bad judgment.

    Yesterday, 4-way stop at 46th and Harrison, father with trailer and young son on small bike, roll through the stop sign. Not agressive, but in my judgement bad parenting.

    I could go on (especially about cyclists failing to yeild to other cyclists at stop signs) and I know this thread is about the Idaho law, but I am growing tired of those who point fingers at agressive cyclists, without seeing themselves as part of the problem too. If you don’t want to stop, fine, but have some basic courtesy for everyone else on the road. If your a parent, please set good examples for your kids.

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  • bahueh January 15, 2009 at 11:37 am

    ah peejay…always entertaining to listen/read the special interest folks here try to overplay their hand. Veloci-whatever’s presence in Boise has nothing to do with anything…he apparently wasn’t paying attention when he/she was there. try responding to what I wrote subsequently..

    and SkidMark..correct in some circumstances…the second a cyclist puts on a pair of headphones they lose that awareness.

    MattD…the sheriff in North Plains will still ticket everyone he sees, regardless of the law (he already does).

    peejay….ah hem…

    boise: population density 2,913.1/sq mi (1,124.7/km²)

    Portland: population density 3,507/sq. mile

    the internet is a wonderful thing…I suggeset you try it sometimg.

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  • gregg woodlawn January 15, 2009 at 11:43 am

    This is exciting. Thanks to all who have been working hard on this.

    Unjust laws should not be followed.

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  • Opus the Poet January 15, 2009 at 11:45 am


    Many stop signs are used as traffic calming devices. I agree that this is a mis-use of a stop sign, but with the Idaho stop law traffic that needs calming is calmed, and traffic the does not require calming is pretty much left alone, and a cost-effective method of reducing motor vehicle speeds is kept viable.

    What would make this law unnecessary would be imposing major (six to 8 digits to the left of the decimal point) fines against governments that use stop signs as traffic calming. I don’t see this happening, do you?

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  • JE January 15, 2009 at 11:48 am

    We refuse to obey the law.
    Please change it.

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  • Jason Penney January 15, 2009 at 11:51 am

    Oh, man, Jonathan, you’re getting a lot of feedback on this!

    I think the BTA should emphasize the relative difference in risk between a 3500 pound motor vehicle and a 200 pound bicyclist. The motorist stands a good chance of hurting someone else if they make a mistake, whereas the bicyclist is likely to hurt himself.

    Also, I’ve always felt that if the intersection is clear, stopping the bike entirely introduces a whole ‘nother set of risks. Bicycles are very slow moving away from a complete stop and are much more unstable at low speeds. Not to mention the increased risk of just plain falling over when you’re stopped.

    I too am disturbed by the cyclists who blithely fly through stop signs (or even red lights) without even acknowledging the intersection. However, I think a “fairly to yield” penalty is much more appropriate.

    Finally, for the record, I’m not interested in extending this law to traffic lights. Traffic engineers typically choose to use lights instead of signs at intersections that cannot be safely shared by vehicle operators exercising reasonable judgment.

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  • jered January 15, 2009 at 12:05 pm

    I roll the stop signs in my car, roll em’ on my bike – where safe and prudent of course. Never gotten a ticket in my car, never gotten a ticket on my bike. No accidents rollin’ stops with my car, no accidents rollin’ stops with my bike. We need more enforcement to protect me from myself and to protect you from me.

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  • JohnO January 15, 2009 at 12:15 pm

    I read a really interesting article by a physicist onthe stop sign issue. (

    Here’s the nut of it:

    “on a street with a stop sign every 300 feet, calculations predict that the average speed of a 150-pound rider putting out 100 watts of power will diminish by about forty percent. If the bicyclist wants to maintain her average speed of 12.5 mph while still coming to a complete stop at each sign, she has to increase her output power to almost 500 watts. This is well beyond the ability of all but the most fit cyclists.”

    I’m all in favor. We have to ride in an environment built either for pedestrians or cars. (I go over a LOT of speed bumps in my commute!) Anything to make it more amenable is a good thing.

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  • bikieboy January 15, 2009 at 12:18 pm

    Mark #3: “first of all I don’t believe that having to come to a stop at stop signs is a “detterant” to people riding bikes”

    no, but a $242 ticket for the heinous crime of failing to cease all forward motion at a stop sign will start making the bus look pretty good.

    r (#20): I agree wholeheartedly with you on the signal loop provision you suggest. I’m very glad the Idaho language for traffic signals isn’t being proposed as part of this (stop then proceed when safe to do so).

    maybe (#23)- the law wouldn’t relieve cyclists from the responsibility to come to a full stop at a stop sign when necessary. a.O.?

    Andrew (#26) – exactly. I would like to hear from someone in Law Enforcement (capitol L, capitol E) about how they’re approach this change in the law. How would they determine a failure to yield? Officer discretion? I’d like to hear more on this.

    I’m tired of my low-grade paranoia about being busted for rolling thru a stop sign at 4 mph at the intersection of 2 low traffic streets.

    This is a great idea – Go BTA! Go Idaho!

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  • […] You can read more (with lots more links to further articles) at Bike Portland’s Web site. […]

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  • […] by Jonathan Maus of Bike Portland.Bike Portland also filed an exclusive report on the Bicycle Transportation Alliance’s call for an "Idaho style," or rolling, stop sign […]

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  • metal cowboy January 15, 2009 at 12:48 pm

    Now we’re cooking! Bjorn, Karl and everyone who worked/working on this – thank you in advance – whatever outcome in Salem. This is the sort of advocacy I think the BTA should be focused on – well thought out, logical, and with real world testing to back it up. I often speak up when I think the BTA has gotten behind the wrong side of an issue, (CRC) so it’s only fair to be as vocal when they get it right. IMHO. Tweaking the language about bicyclist’s being more aware of their aurroundings might keep some from crying elitists – maybe something as simple as changing it to say that operating a bicycle offers more opportunities/visuals/ to take in more of one’s surroundings – rather than putting it on the oprators of bicycles nature to do so as a whole group. Minor stuff – Go Oregon/Idaho!

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  • William January 15, 2009 at 1:07 pm

    @ Jason #75

    I agree about the difference in risk between a 2 ton vehicle and a 200lb vehicle. If the law is designed to keep us safe while minimally impacting us, then it seems consistent to me that a “rolling stop” (not dangerously breezing through at full speed) for cyclists would be allowed. BTA should discuss this risk difference.

    I’d also like to add another risk factor. When people are in cars, they are way back from the front of the vehicle, and have impaired ability to see and hear what’s outside their vehicle. At many intersections, they can’t effectively observe what’s coming until the moment they are at the stop sign. This is much less the case for cyclists, who are much nearer the front of their vehicle, and don’t have the frame of the car reducing their sight and hearing.

    My biggest concern about this law is about those intersections where one street has to stop and the other doesn’t. I can imagine a cyclist rolling through there and getting clobbered as a result of thinking that cross-traffic also had stops. This could happen today, too, but a mandatory full stop would seem to make it a bit less likely.

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  • Bjorn January 15, 2009 at 1:32 pm

    #82 and any others worried about increased accident rates:

    We spoke to Mark McNeese who is the IDOT bike guy a number of times while researching this issue. He was very emphatic that Idaho did not see any change in the accident rate as a result of this rule change. They have been doing it for over 25 years now so a lot of data exists for the stop sign law and none of it points to increased accidents, injuries, or deaths.

    The Idaho Stop Light law has less time behind it so we can’t be as sure that it is not a safety concern, which is part of why we chose not to pursue the stop light rule change. For the Stop Sign law though Idaho has decades of experience to show that allowing cyclists to slow down, look both ways and then proceed if there is not a need to yield does not pose an added safety risk.


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  • bahueh January 15, 2009 at 1:40 pm

    Opus, I agree..but my fear is this…cyclists get the idea in their head they can roll through stop signs…of course they will do it at different speeds at differnet times…

    take drivers who are used to stopping and waiting their turn at 4-way stops…now eliminate that expectation from one of the corners at that stop for cyclists only..who may or may not yield, believing it is legal for them to proceed…driver pulls out, expecting cyclist to stop…cyclist gets hit by car…hurt…dazed…dead (pick your outcome)
    adding the element of “guessing” into basic traffic regulations, especially in a town this crowded with cyclists, many of whom are choosing to act as if a bike lane exists where one does not, is a potentially very bad idea. we’ve all been personal witness to the moron who blows stop signs at 4-way intersections and proceeds to flip us off when we almost run them over, right?
    I envision this happening a lot more if this law is somehow passed and the population of bike morons grows (my guess is Oregonians won’t go for it anyway…special interest laws are rarely passed in this state when there is little/no perceived benefit collectively for Oregonians)

    now if the BTA wants to try to enact a “yield at right hand turns only” law, applicable to T-intersections, etc….I would be in support of that…but as it reads now, this would allow cyclists to roll through all intersections, which many riders in this town have proven to the general public they do with little regard for the impact on others. it’ll only get worse.

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  • a January 15, 2009 at 1:40 pm

    The reason road rules work is not that the individual is safer for obeying a given rule, but that the remainder of the population that uses the roads expects consistent behavior based on those rules. It’s the assumption of everyone using the same rules.

    Part of the problem I see is that when any road user comes to an intersection, he has an expectation about what he will see at the other legs of the intersection before proceeding. Exceptions to a stop sign, while easy to track legally, are not as easy to track in the physical, moving world.

    “Keep it simple,” I think, will keep people safer. Everyone should stop.

    OT: Does Idaho have any “no, really, we mean it” stop signs? Or do they ALL allow the rolling stop?

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  • peejay January 15, 2009 at 1:42 pm


    ah peejay…always entertaining to listen/read the special interest folks here try to overplay their hand.

    What’s my special interest? I really want to know.

    Veloci-whatever’s presence in Boise has nothing to do with anything…

    Except that you said it was, earlier. Then you changed your mind.

    he apparently wasn’t paying attention when he/she was there. try responding to what I wrote subsequently..

    And you know he wasn’t paying attention because he disagrees with you? Prove to me that you were paying better attention then. Because, apparently, others remember differently about the width of streets in Boise.

    and SkidMark..correct in some circumstances…the second a cyclist puts on a pair of headphones they lose that awareness.

    Idiots on bikes are idiots on bike regardless of the law. Just like the idiots on cellphones in cars. Or anyone driving a car that is designed to shut out all outside sound – basically, any “luxury” car.

    MattD…the sheriff in North Plains will still ticket everyone he sees, regardless of the law (he already does).

    Agreement there, but not relevant to this law.

    peejay….ah hem…

    boise: population density 2,913.1/sq mi (1,124.7/km²)

    Portland: population density 3,507/sq. mile

    the internet is a wonderful thing…I suggeset you try it sometimg.

    Other than a smart aleck-y point scored, how does a 20% population density difference significantly affect the appropriateness of this law?

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  • velocipede January 15, 2009 at 1:52 pm

    It’s certainly prudent to consider the possibility of a safety risk increase as a result of the law, as Bjorn points out at #82.

    But it’s disingenuous to continue to argue – all the while changing reasons – that there is a safety issue when it has been demonstrated there is not one.

    Seriously, ignorance is one thing, but consciously disregarding facts that disprove your position is just plain stupid.

    Your “fear” is misguided, baby huey. It hasn’t happened. It isn’t going to happen. And you have LITERALLY NOTHING to support your position that it will. Give it up.

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  • Icarus Falling January 15, 2009 at 1:58 pm

    Once again,

    Why is this being presented in this manner, as a matter of convenience for cyclists?

    It is the wrong approach, and I believe is the reason for the failure in 2007.

    This should be presented as a safety factor, for momentum in traffic is the one thing that can help to keep all cyclists, experienced, and very especially the less experienced, safer.

    I also think that while the BTA means well, this is once again a waste of legislative time and money, like many of the other things the BTA has on it’s legislative plate this season. (and in the past)

    They do such good things for schools, and kids.

    Why are they doing such lackluster and misguided legislative work?

    These are the same questions and problems I have had with the BTA for a very long time.

    As a recently retired working cyclist, I have never felt, in all my years, that the BTA represented me much at all, and in the couple of times they did step up, it was on the wrong side…..

    Perhaps a reconfiguring of priorities for the BTA?

    Or a second bicycle legislation group formed to more truly speak for cyclists, in the manner of representation that we really need?

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  • Jonathan Maus (Editor) January 15, 2009 at 2:04 pm

    “Why is this being presented in this manner, as a matter of convenience for cyclists?”

    my good friend Icarus,

    convenience is just one small part of their approach. they also talk a lot about safety and other things. read the story up on the BTA blog for more of their position and I think you’ll appreciate it.

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  • junixrose January 15, 2009 at 2:04 pm

    It seems that the biggest complaint to this proposed law is that people who are currently violating the law will continue to do so and feel more inclined to do so. Data from Idaho shows that a law like this does not reduce safety so what other concerns are there? It does not decrease safety while it increases convenience and may even increase compliance with the law. What other holdups do people have with this proposition?

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  • bahueh January 15, 2009 at 2:26 pm

    ah peejay..I just wanted my smart-alecky point…that’s all.
    kidding…more people, smaller space, smaller streets = more interaction and potential for conflict. 600 more people, more cars, per square mi. on average is quite a bit if you actually think about it.
    do we need more conflict in PDX between cyclists and motorists? because IMO that is all this law will create…

    agree with Icarus, seems another misguided attempt by the BTA…wish they would actually work on some deterrance legislation like a vehicular manslaughter law with some actual teeth and mandatory sentencing…

    Velocipud (I can play your silly game)…asking me to prove a negative is impossible…you have yet to address my request for proof of such a law that “works” and define exactly how it is “working”….as to me it doesn’t do anything but cater to weak legs, an inflated sense of importance, and the inability to track stand.

    Like I said, I’ve got $10 for your medical bills once you need it.

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  • Bjorn January 15, 2009 at 2:50 pm

    #91 the BTA is pursuing a vehicular homicide law this year:

    Idaho Style and the vehicular homicide bill are both examples of ways the BTA is trying to improve the cycling experience in Oregon.

    In response to your density numbers I agree that there are parts of Portland that are more dense than Boise, but the difference in density is slight and there is no evidence that the law’s effectiveness varies across parts of Idaho with different densities so a 20% difference doesn’t seem that relevant. The law appears to work everywhere in Idaho including both rural and urban areas. We never can compare a potential new law to another state that is exactly like Oregon, but Idaho is a pretty similar place.

    I also think you misunderstood Icarus’s response, he appears to support the idea, but wishes the BTA was pushing it as a safety enhancement because he thinks that it is safer to be able to continue moving and therefore get in and out of the intersection faster reducing the opportunity to be hit. I think he may be right that it is safer, but the data doesn’t show it. Everything in Idaho says that there is no impact positive or negative to safety, accident rates, injuries, or deaths.


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  • bikieboy January 15, 2009 at 2:50 pm

    Since there seems to be some confusion about the concept of “Yield” – this from the Oregon DMV Driver’s Manual (oddly, there doesn’t seem to be an ORS definition of “yield”) –

    “Yielding simply means you must slow
    or, if necessary, stop your vehicle to allow another vehicle or a pedestrian
    to continue on their way safely.”

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  • peejay January 15, 2009 at 3:21 pm


    Why don’t you draw up a graph, where the x axis is population density, and the y axis is “Idaho law efficacy”. If you can demonstrate that as we pass from 2.9k/mile to 3.5k/mile, the curve passes from safe to not safe, I don’t get why density matters. Then, for extra credit you could break down each neighborhood – no, how about each stop sign – and draw up the data for every one on that curve.

    What makes you think the Idaho law might not work better in denser neighborhoods? I, for one, feel safer in Portland than I do in Beaverton or other less dense areas. Why? As a general rule, population density decreases average vehicle speed. And allowing bikes to clear intersections more quickly actually increases the throughput of a given intersection, thus making it support even more density.

    Or, you could use the Chewbacca defense.

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  • peejay January 15, 2009 at 3:23 pm

    Oops. “I don’t get why density matters” should move to the second paragraph.

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  • peejay January 15, 2009 at 3:29 pm

    OK, here is the winning argument:

    Ladies and gentlemen of this supposed jury, Chef’s attorney would certainly want you to believe that his client wrote “Stinky Britches” ten years ago. And they make a good case. Hell, I almost felt pity myself! But, ladies and gentlemen of this supposed jury, I have one final thing I want you to consider. Ladies and gentlemen, this is Chewbacca. Chewbacca is a Wookiee from the planet Kashyyyk. But Chewbacca lives on the planet Endor.[1] Now think about it; that does not make sense!
    Gerald Broflovski
    Damn it!
    He’s using the Chewbacca defense!
    Why would a Wookiee, an eight-foot tall Wookiee, want to live on Endor, with a bunch of two-foot tall Ewoks? That does not make sense! But more important, you have to ask yourself: What does this have to do with this case? Nothing. Ladies and gentlemen, it has nothing to do with this case! It does not make sense! Look at me. I’m a lawyer defending a major record company, and I’m talkin’ about Chewbacca! Does that make sense? Ladies and gentlemen, I am not making any sense! None of this makes sense! And so you have to remember, when you’re in that jury room deliberatin’ and conjugatin’ the Emancipation Proclamation, [approaches and softens] does it make sense? No! Ladies and gentlemen of this supposed jury, it does not make sense! If Chewbacca lives on Endor, you must acquit! The defense rests.

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  • bahueh January 15, 2009 at 3:30 pm

    I’ll go with “if the glove doesn’t fit, you must acquit”…

    would you like that graph on a logarithmic scale or inversely proportional?

    higher density equals more congestion (isn’t that what critical massers where whinin’ about a few years back)…more congestion increases the odds of conflict..remove one of the laws/rules designed to negate such conflict for one user group on narrow streets with drivers who’ve never heard of such a stop sign law reversal…and you’ve got a higher likilihood of impact.

    there’s gonna be a lot of hawthorne hipster fixie kids on the hoods of cars..

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  • velocipede January 15, 2009 at 3:31 pm

    The Chewbacca defense is all you’ve got left, Baby Huey.

    Nobody is asking you to prove a negative. People are asking you to provide some evidence – literally anything – to support your position that the law has or will cause safety problems, but you have none! Zero.

    For evidence supporting the contrary position, see (as a start) #83.

    You got that graph done yet? LOL!

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  • velocipede January 15, 2009 at 3:32 pm

    there’s gonna be a lot of hawthorne hipster fixie kids on the hoods of cars..

    But you profess not to care about these people, since such an outcome would be their own fault. So why waste so much of your time making up reasons why the law is a bad idea?

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  • bahueh January 15, 2009 at 4:04 pm

    well, velocipede…if you’re on the hood of my car, I may care…

    I’m hardly wasting time…work is slow today….seems you’re getting kind of worked up over an anonymous online discussion..

    I’m guessing I could actually throw quite a few statistics your way which reflect a growing trend in cyclist injuries and fatalies are a result of failure to yield (of which such a law would increase the prevalence of in all likelihood)….and you’d disregard them with some straw argument…

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  • bahueh January 15, 2009 at 4:17 pm

    read the “cons” section…pretty much sums it up…

    the “pros” hardly outweigh them…

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  • velocipede January 15, 2009 at 4:22 pm

    Here are some statistics you cannot provide me with:

    Those showing a significant difference in injuries or fatalities between jurisdictions that have the stop-as-yield law and those that do not. Or even that there is a correlation between the law’s adoption and injuries.

    Those showing that urban density or statewide density is related to failure-to-yield injuries.

    And that’s the bottom line, bahueh.

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  • peejay January 15, 2009 at 4:48 pm


    When someone on the “con” side of an argument writes up a list of “pros”, I wouldn’t expect that list to be too convincing, either. Unfortunately, the wild conjectures that comprise the list of “cons” isn’t very convincing, either. They can be summed up in the idea that motorists feel slighted by people taking an “unfair advantage.” Oh, and fear. That’s all you got.

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  • bahueh January 15, 2009 at 5:22 pm

    velocipede…again, you’re asking to prove a negative since such data for riders does not exist. we both know it. some exists for vehicular traffic. its not a big reach to state that increased congestion in urban areas leads to increased conflicts between two modalities.

    you do both agree with the fact that failure to yield is amongst the highest causes of injury/fatalities to cyclists?

    why are you both so gun ho on legislation that has the potential to increase those numbers? “Because it works in Idaho” is not a reason, but it is a poor justification.

    other examples of idaho law:

    1) in Eagle, ID, bicycles arne’t allowed in tennis courts
    2)in Coeur dAlene, if a police officer approaches a vehicle and suspects that the occupants are having sex, he must either honk, or flash his lights and wait three minutes before approaching
    3)in Boise, residents may not fish from a giraffe’s back (maybe the BTA can tackle that one next)

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  • Nice Analogy January 15, 2009 at 5:34 pm

    #104 great job finding 3 other laws in idaho which have no effect on the safety of bicyclists…

    It is interesting that you agree with the guy from Idaho that failure to stop is not the danger it is failure to yield. His point is that on a bike it appears that slowing down to a speed where you are capable of stopping if there is a need is just as good as coming to a complete stop and that it isn’t the stopping that makes you safe it is the not riding in front of a car that makes you safe. The proposed bill continues to make failure to yield illegal so what’s your point?

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  • Icarus Falling January 15, 2009 at 5:49 pm

    Bjorn is right,

    I do think that this may be a good idea to have passed, but as I wrote, to be actually passed, it should be readily worded and presented as a safety issue, because that is what it really is.

    And since it is actually a safety issue, presenting it as such will only serve to bolster support, even from those legislators who are not interested in helping out the “cycling communities”

    It is a matter of convenience only secondary to safety. This is 100% correct.

    I can go on and on about why this idea is actually, and should be presented as, safety based.

    I will provide more ideas on this if anyone wants to read them.

    I still agree that this is not what the BTA should be doing, and besides their work with schools and children, I do not see the BTA doing much of what we need.

    As I am now off work, I shall try to download and read the whole thing.

    Someone ran over the phone box last night, so my downloads keep getting dropped.

    I do understand and know that they reference safety within this idea, but sadly I also know that it is not based on safety as it should be.

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  • Loren January 15, 2009 at 5:57 pm

    Seems the Portland Police have already implemented this law for their squad cars. I think bikes should have it too!

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  • bahueh January 15, 2009 at 6:01 pm

    Icarus..explain why you think being able to slow yield through a stop sign is a safety issue? precisely, I mean.

    how can a rider be safer entering a situation where the two “vehicles” have a higher potential to enter the same intersectional space at the same time in a limited space environment?

    seriously…I’m curious as to your take on it.

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  • Icarus Falling January 15, 2009 at 7:34 pm


    First off, I do not think we need to pass a Idaho Style law. I think it is a waste of legislative funds and time. It appears it does not matter though what I think, so presenting it in the proper manner would be paramount. (’75 Paramount to be exact) (lol) I kill me with laughter.

    My thoughts on safety in this matter fall under the guidelines of normal riding, and if a less experienced rider (or anyone) has the ability to yield instead of stopping all the way, it can make their ride safer.

    I thought you were a cyclist? And a racer at that.

    The simple answer to your question is momentum, momentum, momentum.

    Another interesting example is why racers train on rollers, instead of rear wheel trainers.?

    Tracking, tracking, and tracking. As in rolling straighter.

    I can of course lay it out in simpler terms if needed. Or more in depth… You decide.

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  • revphil January 15, 2009 at 7:35 pm

    much thanks to the BTA and Bjorn for working on this.

    i like the idea of police being able to spend their time working on more pressing issues. I think if we knew the cost of those stings a lot of drivers would be happy to support the Idaho Styles

    for the record they play bike polo in Boise, just like in Portland! This doesn’t really mean anything i just wanted to give them some props.

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  • Icarus Falling January 15, 2009 at 7:48 pm

    I heard those PDX bike polo guys are hooligans.

    Hooligans I say, HOOLIGANS!!!!!

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  • Tbird January 15, 2009 at 7:48 pm

    One vote for no.
    Although I see the motivation; I don’t think most American minds can negotiatet properly. .

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  • peejay January 15, 2009 at 8:07 pm


    Sorry you have a low opinion of Americans. I believe that when Americans don’t have to make bullshit stops, those Americans might not get lulled into the idea that those American stop signs are going to save them and start paying better attention to their surroundings. Then America will be better off.

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  • Jeff Bernards January 15, 2009 at 8:57 pm

    Is it a slow day at the BTA? There’s so much they could be working on, this seems scraping the bottome of the barrel of Bike priorities. I just read the BTA FAQ’s. Their going to mark intersections that are too dangerous to roll through? Who’s going to determine that and who going to pay for that? We barely have enough stop signs for cars in certain neighborhoods now. I think it’s potentially dangerous while trying to teach kids to ride & then telling them they can roll through stop signs, it could be ugly. I roll through stop signs, sometimes, in low traffic neighborhoods, I’ve never been given a ticket or had a problem. It’s almost a non-issue for me. Having the stop sign there sets the rules for everyone, so in case of an accident responsiblity can be determined fairly.
    Promoting Bike Blvds. would be better use of the BTA’s time. Bike Blvds. remove the need for stop signs and the need to roll through them.

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  • q`Ztal January 15, 2009 at 10:34 pm

    This is all a twisted plot to rile up the cyclist community so they can get more memberships and donations.

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  • r January 15, 2009 at 11:07 pm

    the quality of this discussion has predictably deteriorated, but every eight or ten entries there is still something. let me respond to item 101:
    the “con” list from Minneapolis. stop signs are actually _not_ “there to assign right of way.” that is what the first to arrive, defer to the right rules are for. stop signs are to regulate flow through an intersection in which someone has decided (usually incorrectly) that right of way is not enough. a two-way stop causing a secondary road to yield to cross traffic on a dominant road is the exception. failure to yield, failure to properly evaluate risk, sorry, both of those are covered in the text of the proposed law. obey or suffer, different rules for different users, same sign with two meanings, etc. all begs the question. Bjorn noted that there are no data that a rolling stop actually has a positive safety effect, but anyone who is already using the technique (sensibly, as the proposed law spells it out) can give you anecdotal confirmation. an intersection is pretty much the worst place to be, so if I roll the stop, by the time some motorist who was half a block away gets there, I am clear, thanks.

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  • GlowBoy January 15, 2009 at 11:15 pm

    Boy, some of you guys have really gone off the deep end in arguing whether this “works in Idaho.” So I’ll add my 2 cents (other than this thread makes a really good case for limiting any one individual to a maximum of 3 posts per thread).

    First of all, “Boise” is French for “treed” or “forested” or something similar. Boise isn’t that different from here in terms of vegetation, especially the North End where most of the cyclists are. It’s NOT a desert — it’s an urban forest (much like many parts of Portland) that happens to be on the edge of the desert.

    My impression of Boise’s North End is that it is reasonably similar to Southeast Portland in terms of character, density, street width and number of cyclists. Everyone I asked (both bikers and non) seemed to like the law. Works in Idaho, and I don’t see why it wouldn’t work here. I know Idaho seems like Mars to many wetsiders, but anyone who thinks it’s so fundamentally different from Portland that we can’t learn from them is … well, living in their own Private Idaho.

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  • GlowBoy January 15, 2009 at 11:23 pm

    Another comment about the Minneapolis pro/con list (#101). That document, which appears to have been drawn up from a city council meeting, concludes that it is “Not a priority to make Minneapolis more bike friendly”. Since Portland DOES make that a priority, the gist of the Minneapolis list may not be applicable here anyway.

    (which is dismaying to me as a native Minneapolite since it is one of the top 5 bike commute cities in the US and while pretty bike friendly still needs improvement).

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  • r January 15, 2009 at 11:26 pm

    in fairness, I think what that comment means is that instituting a rolling stop is not a priority in making Minneapolis bike friendly

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  • justa January 15, 2009 at 11:33 pm

    I think it would be highly advantageous to place emphasis on the fact that bikes maintaining momentum is beneficial for anyone who happens to be near them on the roadway.

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  • jim January 15, 2009 at 11:41 pm

    “Idaho Stop”

    We allways called them “California stops”

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  • Joe Rowe January 15, 2009 at 11:45 pm

    There is no harm in passing this law, and fixing it if needed.

    The Idaho reform will not increase car and bike contact at stops signs because, as any cyclist will tell you, that is not where danger lies. In 30 years my only contact with cars was their fault all 4 times:
    a) doored
    b) drunk driver ran me down from behind
    c) young woman with stereo blasting turning left in front of me at intersection when I had no stop sign.
    d) male teenager pulling out of bind driveway without stopping at the bike lane I was on.

    Ask car drivers to recall their contact or near miss with cyclists. It will not be stop signs. This Idaho reform is about logic. Feelings by car centric bureaucrats and their lobbyists don’t cut it in law any longer. Jealously will be the main reason car drivers will oppose this, and they will deny that.

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  • wsbob January 16, 2009 at 12:11 am

    Scott Mizee #42….I was lost too….with a need to hurry out the door, I made a quick post…with mistakes. Idaho’s had the law for 27 years (and it’s true…only bikes get to roll stop signs there).

    A news item in the paper just the other day reported that Montana’s thinking about such a law. A writer with New West travel and outdoors, Bill Schneider, interviewed the Montana state rep Robin Hamilton the person proposing the bill for this law. According to Schneiders’s article, Rep Hamilton said “ I think it’s going to die. The cycling community didn’t show up at the hearing to support it.”

    I’m sure there will be Portland people that ride bikes that will be less passive than Montanan’s may have been in supporting an Idaho Stop Law. Just how much support and how much opposition to this law proposal there will be? Good question.

    Just got in an hour ago, so I’m now going to check out some additional info related to the BTA’s proposal, the support of Oregon legislators for it, the process of approval, etc, etc.

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  • brettoo January 16, 2009 at 12:52 am

    Thanks to the BTA for taking this on. As a result, I will be renewing my membership.

    I’ve long thought that allowing bicyclists to legally treat Stop signs as Yield signs (which is pretty much what most of us do anyway around here) would boost ridership considerably, because it makes it easier for people new to biking (whose muscles and stamina may not yet be up to speed) to ride. I’m guessing they’re also the most likely to actually obey the law (out of fear) and so wind up exerting a lot more energy and getting discouraged. We know that the more people who bike, the safer it is for everyone, so I think this will have a ripple effect, boosting numbers and safety.

    I understand the worry that this will induce unsafe behavior, but frankly, I think the people who are gonna blow stop or yield signs without looking would do so anyway. Those with enough sense to carefully yield now can do so without fear of a ticket. We have every incentive to be careful, regardless of what the law says. Cities have been using Yield signs for decades, so I don’t see why this policy will be any more difficult to enforce.

    I don’t support extending the law to stop lights, however. The auto traffic speeds are just too high.

    As with the separated facilities in Copenhagen et al, it’s helpful that this has worked elsewhere. I like it when Portland is a leader, not a follower, but the fact that something has worked elsewhere should reassure many.

    You know that the right wing anti biker types are gonna use this as part of their favorite political tactic — making ignorant auto drivers think that bike riders are getting “special privileges” (it’s how they demonized equal rights for gay people) and somehow “attacking” regular joes. So we’re all gonna have to gear up and write letters to the editors, post on blogs, call those radio shows — mobilize to educate non bikers why this is sensible. Thanks to the BTA for providing concise arguments.

    Next item on the agenda, though maybe it’s more about municipal ordinances or just policy than state legislation: banning right turn on red for autos at intersections with lots of bikes and/or pedestrians. I’ve seen too many near misses.
    Thanks, BTA, and good luck at the Legislature. Jonathan, please keep us posted on the proposal’s progress through committees and the rest of the process.

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  • Bill Stites January 16, 2009 at 1:00 am

    I’m really on the fence about this one.

    The arguments presented do make sense and are compelling … but there’s the ‘human nature’ side where we tend to stretch the limits of a restraint. We commonly bend and blur the lines of a law – particularly when we think there’s a low risk of consequences.

    I think we’ll see even more dangerous behavior than we do now, so that’s a big negative. The purpose of an intersection is to get through without collision, and this “Idaho stop” roll-through is likely to increase the chance of collision.
    People roll through now, it’s a matter of speed – they will likely roll through faster.

    I’m no longer on the fence, I’m opposed on the grounds of SAFETY.

    Based on what I see on the streets, we should be TIGHENING UP stop sign behavior, not loosening it.
    Call me old school, but a little enforcement might go a long way.

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  • brettoo January 16, 2009 at 2:39 am

    So we have your unsupported OPINION that ” this “Idaho stop” roll-through is likely to increase the chance of collision” vs. 26 years of ACTUAL EVIDENCE and the statement of Mark McNeese, Bicycle/Pedestrian Coordinator for the Idaho Transportation Department, who’s quoted in the BTA’s announcement ” that Idaho bicycle-collision statistics confirm that the Idaho law has resulted in no discernable increase in injuries or fatalities to bicyclists.”

    I guess all these years of the Rush/Lars/Bush administration’s anti science, opinion-trumps-evidence positions has just made facts irrelevant. I hope the Legislature relies on facts and history instead of the speculation and unsupported opinions that the anti-Idaho law posts display here.

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  • IanO January 16, 2009 at 8:12 am

    I am in favor of this law. It legalizes my own behavior. I also will be renewing my BTA membership in support of this.

    Because most people do behave this way already, I imagine the main effect will be to stop the police stings (or update the signage at their favorite sting spots to point out that bicyclists are still required to come to a full stop there).

    I get the impression that this is mostly a Portland issue, but they are aiming for a statewide law. How do non-Portlanders feel about this?

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  • q`Ztal January 16, 2009 at 8:13 am

    Re:brettoo #126
    Even before the Rush/Lars/Bush Era opinion consistently trumped evidence and whomever yells the loudest is right.

    Perhaps the best tactic is what you mentioned in #124: PR, lots of it.
    We need articulate and legally accurate PR sent out to all the major news outlets. As soon as possible.

    The local demagogue press should already be “spun up” about what a bunch of “entitled #!$!^!” cyclists are but if we can get support from government officials (DOT’s, police, lawmakers) by the time the law actually comes around for a vote the lawmakers will have some time to actually think about the issue and maybe, just maybe, vote on a basis other that gut knee jerk reaction.

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  • bikieboy January 16, 2009 at 8:56 am

    Jeff B (#114) – “I roll through stop signs, sometimes, in low traffic neighborhoods, I’ve never been given a ticket or had a problem. It’s almost a non-issue for me.”

    of course it’s a non-issue for you — until you get dinged $242 b a cop for doing something that, i think you’d agree, is not inherently unsafe to you or anyone else.

    “Having the stop sign there sets the rules for everyone, so in case of an accident responsiblity can be determined fairly.”

    I don’t think this law would change the apportionment of responsibility one iota. The responsibility would still be on the cyclist to *yield* – which means stopping if necessary.

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  • bikieboy January 16, 2009 at 9:13 am

    Bill (#125) – “People roll through now, it’s a matter of speed – they will likely roll through faster.”

    Why do you think this will be the case?

    I can only speak for myself, & i can tell you that this won’t change my behavior at all. It would put my long-simmering low-grade paranoia somewhat at ease, although that may be mo’ better served by the impending regime change on the home front.

    And, Bill — when you ride please make sure you come to a COMPLETE stop at ALL stop signs – because you have to lead by example.

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  • Coyote January 16, 2009 at 9:15 am

    IanO, I think it makes even more sense outside of Portland. I do most of my riding in Eugene, (which is very much like Boise), and it has miles and miles of more less quiet streets where accessibility and safety will be increased by a realistic stop sign law. I believe a great many stop signs are installed for traffic calming. Since bikes don’t really need calming, on streets anyway, the change makes sense to me.

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  • bahueh January 16, 2009 at 10:54 am

    Icarus…your idea of “safety derived from momentum” is still lost on me…
    I can’t see any rational person who is on the fence about bike commuting think they should give it a try because they can now roll through stop signs…
    if lack of leg strength (which is a problem I don’t have) is one of the only arguments for passing such legislation…what are the odds such a bill is going to pass?

    the fact that I commute daily and race is not part of the equation for me. most of my training rides are in rural locations with few stop signs anyway…

    everyone here has their anecdotes and stories of circumstance…they also have widely varying reasons for blowing stop signs (I’m talking about the guys and girls who don’t even give pause at intersection and who have also wound up on the hood of my car on numerous occasions)….but if a real concensus as to the benefit of such a law cannot be reached….such a proposal is pointless.

    Coyote…again, please explain how you think “safety WILL be increased by a realistic stop sign law”…becuase from what others are arguing here, the danger doesn’t exist at stop signs anyway.

    lots of conflicting information again…

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  • peejay January 16, 2009 at 11:31 am

    When the cops are no longer required to bust all people safely rolling through stops, they might have more time to bust only those who do so unsafely – that is, those who don’t yield right of way. Now, I know the cops should have figured this out on their own, but it’s easier to set up shop at one intersection and write a whole lot of $242 tickets than it is to pay attention to actual unsafe behavior and write fewer tickets more directly targeted to the right people. So, let’s help the police do their jobs better, even if they might have to work a little harder for their pay. It’s time to legalize safe behavior, so the cops can do some good.

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  • velocipede January 16, 2009 at 12:15 pm

    If the stop sign law doesn’t stop the *few* scofflaws from riding safely, then the yield law won’t either.

    If safe riders can be just as safe yielding in some circustances as they can stopping in the same circumstances – a conclusion demonstrated by the facts that people all around PDX and Boise do this every day without incident – then what’s the problem?

    The burden is on you, bahueh, since you oppose the law, to show why it would cause a safety hazard or somehow increase risk.

    And you can’t do that. The law has already been put in effect, and has not caused the type of hazard you fear.

    Your arguments to the effect that any of the innumerable differences between ID and OR would matter are not convincing. The differences in density between Boise and Portland aren’t very big – are they even significant? And you’ve got nothing on the other 97 percent of either state’s roads.

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  • Coyote January 16, 2009 at 2:19 pm

    bahueh #132. Accelerating from a walking pace across an intersection is much faster than accelerating from a dead stop, so you spend less time in the intersection. As long as you leave yourself enough time to accurately assess traffic, and you are not carrying so much speed that you cannot stop if you need to, less time in the intersection is safer.

    I don’t think it is a lot safer, just a little. Looking and yielding right-of-way as appropriate is what makes proceeding through the intersection safe. Stopping is really not related to outcome of going through the intersection, it is just another rule.

    Personally, I believe uncontrolled intersections on lightly traveled streets are safer than stop sign controlled intersections. Negotiating right-of-way with other road users is far better than relying on engineering controls. Safety comes from engaging the brain, not from a sign.

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  • wsbob January 16, 2009 at 2:25 pm

    Last time this Idaho style stop law for bikes went through Oregon Legislature, it got broad support in the House. Then, it never made it out of committee. So, what happened?

    I’m not sure how the proposal for this law will be handled in this legislative session. Will it sweep through the House, Senate, and be signed into law by the Governor with the same broad support it saw in the House last session? Hard to say.

    Obviously, there’s people amongst those that ride bikes that enthusiastically support this Idaho style stop law, because they don’t want to be bothered with and have to expend a little extra energy and time to stop for stop signs. But what of the other…I’ll say, roughly, %80 of the other road users that use motor vehicles to get around on roads and streets they share with people that ride bikes? If this proposal for the ‘roll through stop sign’ law was submitted to a vote by the public, would the Oregon electorate make it law?

    Yes, Idaho has had their ‘roll through’ law for 27 years or whatever, with no record of serious injuries or fatalities as a result of it. Aside from that, it doesn’t as though people know very much about the Idaho general public’s regard for the law; how it came to be, and what they really think of it today. They have the law, and maybe there haven’t been incidents related to it, but do Idahoan’s generally like this law?

    One of the duller tendencies on the part of some of the people opposing the ‘stop means stop’ law is how they routinely attribute enforcement of the law in some locations to autonomous decisions by the police.

    “it would put an end to the long and controversial legacy of Police enforcement actions (a.k.a. “stings”) at stop signs so they could “focus more of their limited resources on high-risk intersections”,” Maus/bikeportland

    Ladd’s Addition is probably the prime example of a location where the ‘stop means stop’ law was enforced. It should be kept in mind that the reason the enforcement action was applied there, wasn’t because of some random spark of inspiration on the part of the cops, but because members of the Ladd’s neighborhood got sick and tired of people on bikes blowing stop signs. There may be a lot more opposition, for good reasons, to this ‘Idaho roll through’ law than people imagine.

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  • wsbob January 16, 2009 at 2:28 pm

    correction: “Aside from that, it doesn’t (make that: ‘isn’t) as though people know very much about the Idaho general public’s regard for the law;

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  • velocipede January 16, 2009 at 2:45 pm

    And it should be also kept in mind that one reason this law is generating so much enthusiasm amongst Portland cyclists (and other conscientious citizens) is that the PPB has wasted so much time inverting its enforcement priorities to focus on violations that pose little or no safety risk at the expense of violations that cause serious injuries and death.

    And I take issue with the notion that people support the law “because they don’t want to be bothered” to stop. They support it because a stop obviously isn’t always necessary to safely navigate an intersection in a manner that respects others’ rights-of-way and because of the PPB’s obvious targeting of cyclists at the expense of the greater public good.

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  • Zaphod January 16, 2009 at 2:49 pm

    As a few have suggested, momentum does often equal safety. I’m not going to debate, justify or defend it.

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  • bikieboy January 16, 2009 at 3:29 pm

    pj (133) & velo (138) – well said.

    wsbob (136) “Last time this Idaho style stop law for bikes went through Oregon Legislature, it got broad support in the House. Then, it never made it out of committee. So, what happened?”

    It never got a hearing in the Senate committee. At the time the BTA was lukewarm at best about it, so there was no one really pushing it.

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  • Jonathan Maus (Editor) January 16, 2009 at 3:36 pm

    “Last time this Idaho style stop law for bikes went through Oregon Legislature, it got broad support in the House. Then, it never made it out of committee. So, what happened?”

    From what I have learned, things were going smoothly for the bill in 2003… but after it passed that house, the media noticed it and ran a bunch of stories… legislators got nervous and it died.

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  • bahueh January 16, 2009 at 3:59 pm

    oh please velocipede…who, exactly, are these other conscious citizens who support special interest traffic laws?
    name them….in mass…please…there is no critical mass of support building anywhere…

    the burden you so claim is not on me whatsoever…I have nothing to do with passing this law…the burden is on those claiming it will do no harm to have separate traffic laws on the same piece of asphalt for different users.

    again, just cuz idaho says it works don’t mean it works everywhere….and momentum into/through a controlled intersection with cars that can squash your dumb butt in an instant is not ‘safe’….

    you don’t actually know why you support this law, do you? at best its self interest. claiming a more altruistic motive, or a belief it will increase ridership in this town, is ridiculous.

    legislators will get nervous again with media coverage….this bill’s going nowhere.

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  • velocipede January 16, 2009 at 4:06 pm

    The only thing that’s going nowhere is your ability to understand anything that doesn’t fit your narrow views.

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  • Opus the Poet January 16, 2009 at 4:52 pm

    Bahueh, you’re being obtuse. The law doesn’t change anything when there is another vehicle in or near the intersection. What will change is that bikes won’t be forced into a mode that is dangerous to the user on a repeated basis. The speed range under 5 MPH when leaving from a standing start can have riders down or off course, and that uses as much energy as climbing a hill. The other thing that will change is PPB won’t need/be able to conduct stings against bike riders who don’t come to a complete stop as they determine it when there is no danger involved to the rider. Enforcement measures will have to be changed to things that are actually something that involves risk to the rider, like failing to yield right of way to a bike in a bike lane during a right turn. That gets people killed.

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  • brettoo January 16, 2009 at 5:06 pm

    Right, I’m pretty sure the BTA isn’t going to draft a statute that says “Bicyclists MUST zoom through stop sign intersections without looking!” Instead, it will probably say something like, “Bicyclists approaching an intersection controlled by a stop sign MUST YIELD to oncoming vehicles.” Why is would this be so hard to understand and enforce? It’s not like Yield signs and laws are radically new. And sensible bicyclists — the vast majority — are going to do that anyway, out of a sense of self preservation. Anyone who’s dumb enough not to yield isn’t going to stop at a stop sign under the current law anyway. But the law will make it easier for responsible riders and therefore encourage and help expand bike ridership.

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  • Scoff Law January 16, 2009 at 9:39 pm

    I actually cannot remember the last time I stopped @ a stop sign. Yeah I’m one of those cyclist Huey hates. Yet I have developed my own personal set of rules in which I follow. Unless Behuah has a 15 min rush to the courthouse for me. 🙂
    I always look both ways, It may not look like it from behind, but my eyes do indeed move from side to side.

    At what speed I “roll” through a intersection depends entirely on the visibility of that intersection. Where as @ Ladds Circle rolling through @ 25mph is no problem. The same cannot be said for SW 8th and Morrison.

    If common sense prevails, and this law passes, I’m afraid I will not be considered a “scofflaw” any more! LOL

    Oh I can track stand, and have plenty of leg strength. But a Dumb law in my view should be treated as such.

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  • Dan January 16, 2009 at 11:52 pm

    It seems to be a bit past the time for rational thoughts here, but I’ll try anyway.

    Of course “Idaho style” makes sense, most anywhere. At 4-way stops I hardly ever stop so I have to put my foot down, just slow enough to take my turn along with the cars when necessary. The fact that I’m still here says that when cross traffic doesn’t have to stop I behave pretty much as a pedestrian.

    But I’d also like to go a couple of steps further, giving similar freedoms to all modes of transportation. I’m especially concerned about the effects of spewing CO2 and other pollutants into the atmosphere, including cars idling during stops and accelerating afterward. For this reason, as a pedestrian or biker, I often try to yield right-of-way to drivers, though it often just causes confusion. As long as we have fossil fuel burning engines, I’d like all vehicles able to treat stop signs as yield signs and stop lights treated as stop signs, and sometimes as yield signs where visibility is good. The main problem then would be that we’d have something like a “slippery slope” and giving traffic tickets would be somewhat arbitrary. But self-interest in avoiding accidents works for most people, especially bicyclists, as a pretty good moderator of behavior, and many laws are open to interpretation of what is safe.

    Maybe a guideline could be that I’d have the right-of-way at a red light, or stop or yield sign, if cross-traffic couldn’t get within three car-lengths, or five seconds, of me while staying within the speed limit, or you suggest the criteria you’d prefer. Maybe also the legal penalty for actually causing an accident, where my right-of-way is in question, should be comparable to the risk of harm to others.

    If someone, in any vehicle, breaks a traffic rule, AND actually delays your passage, let them know it. Maybe carry a camera and at least pretend to take their picture. If you do, maybe we could have a web site to post them with a statement of what happened.

    By the way, I’m a Eugene bicyclist who doesn’t own any fossil fuel vehicle.

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  • Afro Biker January 17, 2009 at 6:10 am

    Since most cyclists here don’t use signals either, why don’t we just remove signaling from the law too?

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  • buglas January 17, 2009 at 11:54 am

    Wow. Some lively debate.

    IanO, you asked about the view from outside Portland Metro. I’m in Corvallis. We’re a university town with lots of students on bikes and lots of business bicycle commuters as well. I see lots of Idaho stops in practice. I don’t see or hear of much police action to counter that, so I don’t think it would change things much here.

    There is one assertion in the debates that I haven’t seen thought through and beaten to death. Some are speculating that legalizing Idaho stops would make those who already practice them roll through even faster. That suggests that those advancing that argument have some knowledge of the motivations of the current scofflaws and that this new law would somehow feed into those motivations. Unless those making such claims can give me data, they’re just guessing. If they’re entitled to guess then so am I. I’m guessing that the current Idaho stoppers are motivated by nothing more than a desire for convenience. A change in the law won’t make it more convenient for them to roll even faster through stop signs – they’re already going just as fast as they want so changing the law won’t make their behavior more reckless.

    Finally, I have a question that’s related but may be just slightly off topic. I’m at a stop sign, preparing to turn right onto a street with two lanes of motor vehicle traffic and a bike lane going to the right. There is a car approaching from my left. Should I go ahead and pull out into the bike lane because that is my traffic lane and it is clear? If I were in a car and someone was approaching in the far lane but my first available lane was clear, I would go ahead and pull out. As a cyclist, I usually wait for the car to pass so they don’t think I’m pulling out in front of them and feel a need to react. To pull this back in, under an Idaho stop law if I were to roll the sign and proceed into the bike lane, I would need to be sure I’m controlling my speed enough to make the corner without swinging past the bike lane. Any thoughts?

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  • brettoo January 17, 2009 at 11:58 am

    @ 148: “Afro Biker
    January 17th, 2009 06:10 148
    Since most cyclists here don’t use signals either, why don’t we just remove signaling from the law too?”

    A false analogy. The difference is that signaling actually contributes to rider safety, whereas stopping at an intersection when no cars are approaching doesn’t. Also, a signaling requirement doesn’t discourage anyone from riding, because signaling is easy. I do it automatically now and don’t even think about. By contrast, forcing riders — especially the kind of regular Joes and Janes who aren’t in great shape — to stop and start from a dead stop every few blocks DOES discourage ridership. Signaling requirements are sensible and reasonable. Unnecessary stop requirements aren’t.

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  • wsbob January 17, 2009 at 12:12 pm

    Scoff Law, what do you think the chances are, that the Oregon Legislators confidence in approving an Idaho Stop Law will be increased upon hearing remarks from people like yourself to the effect that “….rolling through @ 25mph is no problem.” ?

    Dan #147, your comment “…I often try to yield right-of-way to drivers, though it often just causes confusion. ” Do you consider yourself to be using rational thought in doing this?

    Laws aren’t designed to regulate the behavior of ‘most people’, people that have and can use common sense to competently make their way about without hurting other people. Rather, laws are designed to regulate the behavior of that minority of the population that are just the opposite; that either don’t have or don’t use common sense and good judgment, and that need extra measures to eke out from them, some semblance of safe behavior.

    Last night, I searched around for some explanation for why the Idaho Stop Law didn’t make it out of the Oregon Leg in 2003. As has been noted earlier, it passed in the house overwhelmingly, but expired with the end of the leg term in the Senate Judiciary Committee. Really could not bring up any articles critical of it in the O archives (which doesn’t mean they don’t exist or weren’t written) or elsewhere.

    I think it might be worthwhile for everyone to do some informal surveys about how people would feel about a law like this. Ask friends and family, people met in casual conversation in public. I’ve done just a bare bit of that but hope to do more.

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  • buglas January 17, 2009 at 1:11 pm

    wsbob, thanks for the suggestion to have discussions outside of this forum.

    I have just had a conversation with one of my daughters about this that took an interesting turn. What about an age component in this proposed law? One concern I think I have seen mentioned is how kids might behave under this proposed law. I don’t want to see fourth graders blindly rolling out into the middle of intersections because they think it’s legal. So what if the law required everyone under age sixteen to stop unconditionally at stop signs? Sixteen is when we give kids credit for enough experience to allow them to get a driver’s license. Sixteen is when we trust their judgement enough to let them make their own decision about wearing a helmet. So why not say that at sixteen we trust our kids enough to read a traffic situation and decide when a yield is appropriate but before that age we’re not so sure.

    Bjorn, I think this would be an easier sell to the legislature with an age component. It would show that the law sets an expectation of some maturity and judgement on the cyclist’s part.

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  • Bjorn January 18, 2009 at 11:56 am

    #152 We talked to Marc McNeese from IDOT about how they dealt with kids and bike education programs around the Idaho Stop issue. He said that their technique, which has been quite effective is to not mention the stop sign law during their childhood bike education programs and to simply teach kids to stop at the stop signs. When they get old enough to be safe they start using the Idaho Style method on their own.


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  • buglas January 18, 2009 at 9:29 pm

    In an earlier comment here I said I didn’t see any downside to this proposed law. Now, thinking about inexperienced kids making Idaho stops, I’m getting uncomfortable with it. Bjorn said Idaho’s approach is to tell the kids to stop during bicycle safety classes and that they eventually figure it out. That seems pretty disingenuous to me. I have a son who would have been the kid in the back of the safety class saying, “I never see grownups stopping at stop signs and they always say it’s ok.” Unless they’re given a really good reason, kids will do what they see rather than what they are told. If they’re told to always stop at stop signs and they know darn well that they don’t always have to, they’ll feel they’re being patronized.

    I really believe this proposed law needs an age component.

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  • brettoo January 18, 2009 at 10:24 pm

    I’m not necessarily against an age component if it really makes kids safer and helps pass the Idaho law, but if kids are capable of understanding how a Yield sign works, wouldn’t they also be able to understand an Idaho stop? Yield signs have been around for years and I’m not aware of an epidemic of child injuries stemming from inability to understand them. Nor, apparently, has there been an increase in child bike injuries attributable to this law in 27 years of Idaho experiences with it.

    Given that demonstrated record of no increase in collisions, opponents of the law have the burden of showing that there’s something really different about Oregon that would significantly increase the chances of injury. Mere speculation and worry without evidence is not enough to overcome decades of actual experience.

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  • wsbob January 19, 2009 at 2:18 am

    So if all concern over an Idaho Stop Law in Oregon is just speculation and worry without evidence of increased chance of injury, why don’t we have solid testimony from the Idaho public that verifies their overwhelming delight with the stop law they’ve been living with?

    All we hear from those quarters is a few anecdotal comments from people with a particular interest in easing limits for people that ride bikes. Have we ever heard comments from Idahoans that goes something like this?:

    ‘I only drive…haven’t been on a bike for 25 years, but as a driver, this stop as yield law for bikes only has been just fine for me. I never have a problem with someone on a bike trying to scoot through a stop sign into an intersection ahead of me with not enough room to spare.’.

    Has it occurred to anyone that a possible reason injuries and deaths haven’t accompanied the stop as yield law in Idaho, is that motor vehicle driving and pedestrian Idahoans have learned to adjust for lax riding behavior on the part of people that ride bikes?

    In the long run, it might be worth it if, when a law such as the Idaho Stop Law was encouraged by bike advocates, there were a little more consideration for how the law might effect people other than those that ride bikes. With the kind of preparation that’s accompanied Oregon’s Idaho Stop Law, just watch what happens when this thing hits the Oregon Leg. Legislators, eager to appear to be doing something, and also, to get this bill out of their hair, may again swish it through the House. Then once again, when it hits committee….

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  • Karl Rohde, BTA January 19, 2009 at 9:28 am

    I apologize for not commenting sooner, but I have been very busy dealing with the legislature and haven’t had the time to catch up on the conversation taking place here.

    What happened in 2003 was that the bill hit the floor of the House for a vote at the same time Rep. Randy Miller’s bill to increase the speed limit on the interstates. The media were all there to cover that story when they saw this interesting little bike bill and decided to run stories on it. The public reaction was overwhelmingly bad and Lars Larson made it his cause celeb. So, by the time it made it to the Senate, support had soured and no one wanted to touch it.

    I have enjoyed reading the comments here and will consider some of the suggestions as we negotiate the bill in Salem. However, as important and valuable as the conversation taking place here is, it will be important for folks to monitor other blogs like the print and broadcast media sites, to respond to some of the accusations and false statements that are being made.

    Bjorn is part of a team here at the BTA that is working hard to make sure accurate information is provided to the public and legislators and I want to publicly thank him for all the time and effort he and the rest of the team has put into this issue. It will take legions of volunteers to make sure that this law passes and we are committed to seeing that happen.

    Best regards,


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  • a January 19, 2009 at 9:50 am

    How does right-of-way work with rolling stop signs?

    A vehicle is stopped to allow another through the intersection, and a bicycle approaches, potentially expecting to roll through. Does the stopped vehicle proceed knowing that the bike should stop, but isn’t quite sure? More likely, the vehicle waits and sees if the biker is really going to cede the appropriate right of way. And you get an awkward sense of safety. Is this waiting a sign to the biker that he should go ahead and proceed?

    This is an example of how the grayish nature of this law can cause confusion for even safety-minded road users…

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  • peejay January 19, 2009 at 10:20 am


    Ladd’s Addition is probably the prime example of a location where the ‘stop means stop’ law was enforced. It should be kept in mind that the reason the enforcement action was applied there, wasn’t because of some random spark of inspiration on the part of the cops, but because members of the Ladd’s neighborhood got sick and tired of people on bikes blowing stop signs.

    I’m not sure you are right on this. As far as I know from talking to people who live in Ladd, it’s one cranky old person who has made all the complaints. Cranky old people don’t like a lot of things, but it doesn’t mean we have to set enforcement priorities by their whims.

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  • brettoo January 19, 2009 at 10:51 am

    “How does right-of-way work with rolling stop signs?”
    Someone from the BTA can clarify, but AFAIK, it works EXACTLY THE SAME AS YIELD SIGNS HAVE WORKED FOR AGES.

    When I’m driving in a car, and I see another vehicle stopped at an intersection with a Yield sign, I expect that vehicle to Yield, and miraculously, it always does.

    Somehow we’ve avoided mass slaughter and vehicle paralysis on the streets despite the presence of so many dangerous Yield signs everywhere. Why would an Idaho stop law change that?

    And I’m not so sure it’s a bad idea for drivers to approach intersections with a little extra care, regardless of right of way.

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  • a January 19, 2009 at 12:19 pm



    When I’m driving in a car, and I see another vehicle stopped at an intersection with a Yield sign, I expect that vehicle to Yield, and miraculously, it always does.”

    Except that you’re moving; you’re not waiting for that vehicle to yield (and cede ROW to you). Yield signs are located against moving streams of traffic.

    I think I read that there are specific locations of stop signs in Idaho where even cyclists must stop. So that involves another sign for that specific condition.

    It just seems like a half solution.

    Expectations for how other road users will act is what breeds safety.

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  • wsbob January 19, 2009 at 12:28 pm

    Karl #157, thanks for giving us some of the back story on the failed 2003 ‘stop as yield’ effort. I’m sure you’re very busy, but if you have any of the media stories about the effort from that time on file, I’d be interested in reading them. Maybe others would too. The O makes you pay for stuff out of their archives.

    Peejay, the fact is, I also don’t know exactly what the PD’s criteria for initiating a stop sign enforcement action, but if it does truly require only the complaint of one cranky old person, I’d be very surprised, at least as it applies to a unique neighborhood situation such as Ladd’s.

    Of course, there will be people that are indifferent as to whether people stop at stop signs or not. How many people of that opinion are we talking about? What percentage of neighborhood residents does that represent? Surveys aren’t perfect, but a residence to residence to survey, or a sampling, questioning the people of the neighborhood in regards to their feelings about road users passing through their neighborhood, is probably a better way to determine the level of concern there, and how that might have effected the decision of the police to initiate an enforcement.

    The thing I notice about this Idaho Stop Law proposal, is that it only benefits people that ride bikes, yet is likely to change in various ways, difficult to define conditions and obligations from other road users, residents and property owners. There’s not much in this proposal for anyone but people riding bikes. That may make it a tough sell to the non-biking public.

    Figure out things to attach to the bill proposal; an enhanced motor vehicle/bike operator education program, neighborhood livability focus surveys of affected areas, or some such thing, and the chances of this proposal being more warmly received by the public, might be better.

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  • Whyat January 19, 2009 at 12:57 pm

    My concern is this- as soon as a law like this passes it makes it much easier for ‘pro-car’ laws to be passed across the board in the name of ‘convenience’. It’s inconvenient for drivers to have bikes on naito prkwy? Let’s ban bikes on that street. It’s inconvenient to have bikes on several streets downtown? Let’s ban that too. 2 bikes across take up 2 much space? Make it illegal. Laws of convenience open up a slippery slope of interpretation, and while I completely understand the logic of this law, I think the implications outweigh the benefit.

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  • r January 19, 2009 at 10:52 pm

    re comment 158.
    works exactly the same, as in:
    (1) motorist arrives at a four-way stop, cyclist approaching, law says cyclist should yield (because motorist was there first, or arrived simultaneously to the right), motorist may “assume” cyclist will yield.
    (2) motorist approaching intersection in which the cross traffic has stop signs, motorist does not, cyclist approaching on cross street, law says cyclist should yield, motorits may “assume” cyclist will yield.
    (3) substitute motorist for bicyclist and vice versa in each situation. the law says a motorist confronted with a stop sign should stop, and yield to whoever was there first at a four-way stop, or yield to cross traffic that has no stop sign. cyclist may “assume” motorist — sorry, spilled my coffee there — cyclist may “assume” motorist will stop and yield.
    in real life, anyone “assuming” anything in these situations has to remain alert to the possibility that the other person will not do what is expected (or what the law requires) and be prepared to take an alternative course.
    works exactly the same.

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  • Kevbo January 23, 2009 at 10:33 am

    I don’t like the new law. I lost a good friend (Pete) a year-and-a-half ago because he rolled through a stop sign. A car that he did not see hit and killed him. It was Pete’s fault. I am convinced that he would be alive today if he had stopped at the stop sign. Now when I see a rider roll through a stop sign I say, “Stop for Pete’s sake.”

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  • Bryan January 26, 2009 at 2:02 pm

    Kevbo is right. The BTA means well, but adopting this law will not increase safe bicycle traffic. The majority of Oregon cyclists couldn’t handle an Idaho bike stop law, and the majority of Oregon drivers couldn’t handle it, either. Instead, develop bike routes that require fewer stop signs.

    Cars that roll through stop signs when no one else is around are the same cars that cause accidents. If cycling through a particular stop sign is safer and helps the flow of traffic, then go for it, but making it legal will create huge problems, especially in Portland. Runners don’t complain – they do what is safest for themselves and others while not impeding the flow of traffic. The difference between runners and cyclists is that runners don’t suffer from visions of entitlement.

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  • brettoo January 26, 2009 at 5:55 pm

    “adopting this law will not increase safe bicycle traffic.”

    Why not? It seems obvious it will make it easier for current non bike riders to ride, and the stats show that the more bikes that are on the road, the safer it is for everyone , because of increased driver awareness and other reasons. so all the EVIDENCE — as opposed to your unsupported assumptions — indicate that the law WILL increase safety.

    “The majority of Oregon cyclists couldn’t handle an Idaho bike stop law.”

    What’s your evidence for that statement? Show us the survey data. Is it 52% of cyclists who can’t handle it, or 63% or what, and how do you know? Are Oregon bike riders so much dumber than Idaho bike riders, who have experienced no increase in injuries or accidents in 27 years?

    “making it legal will create huge problems, ”

    Again, what’s your evidence? It didn’t happen in Idaho, so why would it happen in Portland, especially since Portland drivers and cyclists are much more accustomed to sharing the road? Unsupported assertions are not evidence.

    “Runners don’t complain – they do what is safest for themselves and others while not impeding the flow of traffic. The difference between runners and cyclists is that runners don’t suffer from visions of entitlement.”

    Ah, now I see where you’re coming from — it’s not just ignorance of the facts, it’s also ignorance of the law and an anti-bike rider bias. Excuse me — according to the law, bike riders ARE traffic. Our “visions” are simply the law — we are entitled to use the public roadways. To say otherwise is the true delusion.

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  • Bryan January 26, 2009 at 11:26 pm

    Cute. The law wouldn’t necessarily be bad for Oregon, it just wouldn’t work in Portland. For example, it may help Eugene by decriminalizing acceptable cycling behvior, and it may help to persuade more residents of Salem to commute by bike. But Portland cycling commuters and Portland drivers aren’t mature enough to handle it. Cyclists are literally hitting each other with their bikes.

    Either way, the law would not affect me, so I don’t really care. If I want to cycle across Portland, stopping at signs is certainly not a deterrant. Sport and recreational cyclists don’t care if they have to stop at a sign – they’ll either bike through traffic, or drive their bike to where they can get a good ride in. As a driver, I’m aware of cyclists and runners, so I’m not going to hit anyone, and I certainly don’t care if cyclists are breaking the law – I’ll give them the right of way and all the room they need. But, I have seen Portland drivers simply drive people off the road, and I have seen commuter cyclists behave irresponsibly and put their lives in danger, either in response to the lack of courtesy by drivers, or perhaps they’re just rebelling and sticking it to the Man, as it were.

    In any case, it makes for a great recipe: angry cyclists rolling through stop signs and getting T-boned by soccer moms in Subarus who are drinking lattes and texting their hair-stylists.

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  • MM February 3, 2009 at 4:07 pm

    For credentials: I ride from inner SE to Tigard as a work commute. I am a very experienced cyclist. I ride in the suburbs. I am a very defensive cyclist and to be successful in my commute I must often act as, and be in the same physical space as vehicles. Many of the difficulties (read: dangerous situations) I have had with vehicles are because drivers treat the cyclist as a second-class vehicle. I do not support this bill because:

    • I believe that some motorists will use this to bolster their aggressive actions toward cyclists and
    • I believe that this will increase cyclist injury, reducing ridership and thus, reducing safety for all cyclists.

    I believe that providing a classification exemption of this sort will only strengthen this belief and lead to more aggressive treatment of cyclist by some drivers. This treatment is partly affirmed by cyclists disobeying traffic laws. The difficulty with this issue is that much of the discussion is about motorist perception. I have read the Ray Thomas article ( and I do not agree with the assertion that: “Wouldn’t motorists have less to be grumpy about if the laws were different for bicyclists at stop signs and lights?” I believe the opposite, that existing motorists will substantiate their grumpiness and this exemption may entice other drivers to behave more aggressively toward cyclists. I believe that a precautionary approach – one that does not change the law is better than experimenting with bike safety. I also do not agree with Mr. Thomas’ belief that stop signs are a deterrent to new riders. I believe that safety is a deterrent to ridership. This brings me to my second point.

    Mr. Thomas asserts that: “And there is general agreement in the bicycle advocacy community that the best way to increase safety for bicyclist is to increase the number of riders on the road. As the numbers of bicyclist increases, the rate of injuries has decreased.” I agree that the more cyclists present, the safer cycling can be. However, this proposal also assumes that cyclists are always defensive and omniscient. If a cyclist makes a mistake at an intersection they are most likely injured as there is no car body surrounding them to protect them. I happened to be discussion this topic with friends during dinner the other night at the corner of SE Clinton and 26th. We watched as an eastbound cyclist slowed, but did not stop, a northbound car did not see the cyclist and hit the cyclist. (To be honest, the car began traveling / entered the intersection before the cyclist did – so the cyclist should have stopped even under this law, but proves my point; if a cyclist makes a mistake, it is injurious.) Therefore, if there are more cycling injuries, there may be fewer riders, making cycling less safe for all cyclists.

    I am a BTA member and I am asking them to please not support this law.

    Cheers and thanks for reading.

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  • brettoo February 3, 2009 at 4:38 pm

    I guess all these years of faith based, science-free Republican politics (abstinence education reduces unwanted pregnancy more than birth control info does! Global warming is a myth! etc.) has now elevated belief to the same level as facts, at least in some minds.

    ” I believe … existing motorists will substantiate their grumpiness and this exemption may entice other drivers to behave more aggressively toward cyclists. ”

    Your beliefs are no doubt heartfelt and sincere. Unsubstantiated beliefs do not contradict decades of FACTS. The Idaho law has demonstrably not induced drivers to such behavior.

    As much as some cyclists disparage drivers around here, I really think virtually all drivers want to be careful, want to avoid hitting cyclists (if only to avoid the hassle of insurance, police, decades of subsequent guilt and nightmares), and will drive more cautiously when they see cyclists at a stop sign if the law passes, which is a good thing. Any driver psychopathic enough to intentionally hit a cyclist is not going to be further enabled in her/his hostility by this law.

    “I believe that a precautionary approach – one that does not change the law is better than experimenting with bike safety.”

    Another belief not supported by experience. The Oregon law is not an experiment. The Idaho law was the experiment, and we have nearly three decades of data from it. Those data demonstrate that the law doesn’t endanger safety.

    ” Therefore, if there are more cycling injuries, there may be fewer riders, making cycling less safe for all cyclists.”

    Fortunately, 27 years of the Idaho demonstrate that there are NOT more cycling injuries. So there won’t be fewer riders, and so, as the experience of other places where the increased number of cyclists also increased safety, cycling will be more safe for all cyclists.

    The vast majority of cyclists are, like MM, me, and most of us on this list, careful and defensive riders because we know we have the most to lose in a car-bike collision. The new law won’t reduce that fact — or our incentive to be cautious — one iota. The few cyclists who are dumb/impatient enough to blow stop or yield signs are already not deterred by the current law, so changing it isn’t going to increase the number of dumb/impatient riders. But it will increase the number of careful riders who are deterred by the impediment of the current law.

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  • MM February 3, 2009 at 5:05 pm

    I work with statistics each day. The truth in data is often based on perspective, assumptions, data collection methods and context. For instance it could be stated that there are fewer injuries in absolute terms (total number) by percentage of ridership (which assumes one knows how many riders there are and that all injuries are reported) and so on. I’m not stating that the Idaho data is false, but that data can be subjective in some way and that it may not always tell the whole story. My beliefs above are based on my own observations and perceiving a trend.

    Here is an anecdotal analogy to the current issue: Currently, Oregon law defines cyclists as vehicles. Yet, that does not deter motorists from yelling at me to do something to the effect of: “get off the road/out of the way” etc. This is an example of a law which is supposed to make riding safer, but elicits aggressive behavior from drivers. I’d like to NOT create another law which further adds a complaint for drivers. I understand the point that if stopping were discretionary that it’s one fewer law for drivers to complain, but I fear that this point is too complex logic for most folks (just as a bike is a “vehicle”) and drivers will just be more irritated.

    Cheers again.

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  • […] BTA is backing similar legislation currently in Oregon. (see here and […]

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  • Stephanie February 11, 2009 at 12:26 pm

    This seems on the surface like a major convenience for bicyclists, BUT it will actually get people hurt.

    As it is now, many bicyclists fail to slow down for and stop for either stop signs or stop lights. (I know some of you think this is not true, but it is – if this doesn’t ring a bell with you then I am simply referring to other cyclists).

    The danger here is that of having to stop when you weren’t planning on it. Right now so many bicyclists are disregarding the current law that relaxing the current law will only cause worse behavior. It is very dangerous when bicyclists approach a stop sign and turn the corner because they were going too fast to stop.

    Bicycles are harder to stop than cars. The rules are for your own safety.

    Bicycles are vehicles. You have to obey the traffic rules or you should not bike.

    Frankly, the safest scenario is to have reduced speed limits for cyclists and special streets or lanes set aside for you.

    For both drivers and cyclists to be safe EVERYONE has to follow ALL of the rules.

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  • oliver February 11, 2009 at 1:39 pm

    Sorry but by immediately lumping in people who fail to slow down for and fail to stop for stop signs points out in very stark terms your bias on this issue. Even with your caveats.

    Most users of the road do not stop at stop signs, it’s as simple as that. If you think this untrue find an outside table next to a four way stop in one of the corners of our fair city, buy a coffee or better yet a locally produced beer and watch for 45 minutes.

    A ‘complete’ stop, that is one where the wheels of the vehicle cease all forward rotation is only (by my less than scientific, yet completely objective) observation is only practiced by about 1 in 10 vehicles (of all types) when there is no cross traffic. And since we’re now talking about an ‘effective’ not a ‘literal’ stop, it becomes really subjective, and falls back to a question of endangering other road users.

    (an interesting unrelated anecdote is that the kids with tuner cars seem to more often stop than ‘normal’ vehicles like explorers or work trucks)

    As far as bicycles being harder to stop than cars, from what speeds? What do you mean by harder? That it requires more physical effort (as in riding a bike uphill is harder than driving a car) is undoubtedly true. But approaching a stop sign at 50% of my maximum cycling speed, it takes far less time or distance for me to stop (ie 1 or 2 bike lengths) than for someone driving at the posted speed limit let alone 50% of the speed capability of their car.

    You have to obey. (yeah god, the police and blackwater right?)

    Tell that to the 100 people who drive past my house doing 35 or 40 mph in a 25 zone. Or the people who have always assumed that the turn signals supplied with their vehicles are ‘Optional Equipment’

    The whole point of changing the (unnecessary) law requiring that all forward momentum be ceased on a bicycle before proceeding, ie yield. Is to make a safe and common practice legal, thereby bringing people within the RULES as you are advocating. Therefore changing the law to allow rolling a stop sign, yielding right of way where safe and due is the most reasonable and equitable course of action.

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  • Rights & Responsibilities March 9, 2009 at 7:55 am

    Pretty much all of my bike riding is commuting, so I’ll disclose that bias up front. I ride the same way I drive: safely and predictably, staying within the capabilities of the vehicle. I oppose this legislation for the same reason that I oppose bike paths: it creates uncertainty at intersections, which is where most cyclists get killed. If we were to lobby for treating stop signs as yield signs for all vehicles, that would be one thing; to single out bikes creates the same sort of safety nightmare as saying that bikes should be the only exception to the “ride on the right” rule.

    My bike is a vehicle. I want it to be treated like any other vehicle. The price for that is that I am subject to the same rules as any other vehicle. In that quarter of a second that the car driver and I have to size one another up, we need to be operating on a set of principles that apply to every interaction, every time. Otherwise one or the other of us is going to try to make something up on the spot, and I’m going to get hurt.

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  • Form President of R.O.M.P. March 15, 2009 at 10:53 am

    As the former president of one of the oldest mountain bike advocacy organizations in the country, I have to laugh at the strategy of asking permission for something cyclists in Portland are already doing. As I let my kids off at school in the morning, which is on a bike route, I watch every single cyclist blow through the stop sign at the corner. This is in a school zone. Clearly, not even the safety of young children is enough to make PDX cyclists obey the law. In my opinion, most PDX cyclists are anarchistic, rude, presumptuous, and anti-social cyclists I have seen, in any city. Even the bike messengers in San Francisco, renowned for their brash behavior, are polite by comparison. Get this through your heads: you don’t own the road!

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  • a bycyclist and a driver March 18, 2009 at 9:04 am

    I ride and drive and this is ridiculous! Change the law because people don’t obey them, that makes sense. People commit murder so we should just legalize it, right same concept.

    What most bicyclists don’t realize is that cars can kill them very easily.

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  • Scott Mizée March 18, 2009 at 11:11 am

    Dear “a bycyclist and a driver”

    I am also a bicyclist and a driver. I also understand logic.

    Your argument has many holes in it that have already been discussed at length here and elsewhere.

    I’m quite certain that 99% of bicyclists realize that cars can kill them very easily.

    “Changing the laws against murder” and “changing the law to allow a stop sign to be treated as yield sign when cycling” are two very different concepts and are not comparable.

    Let’s look at the empirical evidence in this country where it has worked and there has not been a blood bath as you appear to be predicting. There is no data or logic to support the argument that this law would be any less successful here than it has been in our neighboring state of Idaho for nearly 30 years!

    Best Regards,
    a fellow road user

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  • […] March 19, 2009 · No Comments The Oregonian, Portland’s big daily paper, laid an egg the other day when covering a proposed change to Oregon traffic law regarding cyclists. It’s so bad, in fact, you can’t even grasp the subtleties of the proposal. (BikePortland does a much better job.) […]

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  • bob March 23, 2009 at 5:43 am

    Why do you need to have a special set of rules just for you?

    Why can’t you just stop at the stop signs and lights like everyone else?

    Many bicycle riders are dangersously out of control while on the roads. I have seen it myself multiple times while driving.

    If this passes, I will join the first group that commits it to the voters for approval…regardless of state legislators who support it.

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  • bob March 23, 2009 at 6:32 am

    This is exactly why I am against this becoming law…. the next thing that will come out of this group is that they be allowed to run red lights…..

    This suggested by Dan # 147:

    “Maybe a guideline could be that I’d have the right-of-way at a red light, or stop or yield sign, if cross-traffic couldn’t get within three car-lengths, or five seconds, of me while staying within the speed limit”

    This is a ridiculous statement….just think about it!!

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  • El Biciclero March 23, 2009 at 10:12 am

    I think you misinterpreted the intent of Dan’s statement. I believe he was attempting to put forth criteria that could be used to judge whether entrance into an intersection was “safe” or not. You do this all the time–when waiting at a two-way stop, you judge how long you think you will need to execute whatever maneuver you are planning, then you attempt to judge how long you will have a clear intersection to execute your maneuver. Dan can correct me if I’m wrong, but I don’t think “right-of-way” was the best choice of words; maybe something along the lines of “my entrance into an intersection would be considered ‘safe’ if all approaching vehicles were at least five seconds away at the prevailing speed limit.” That’s me putting words in Dan’s mouth, so Dan, again, correct me if I’m misrepresenting your idea. I don’t think that is ridiculous at all, if you think about it.

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  • brettoo March 23, 2009 at 10:38 am

    There are probably a lot of people out there like bob who probably don’t ride regularly and just don’t understand why the law sets up a “special set of rules.” It’s the same tactic used by right wingers who oppose civil rights for gay people or black people by calling them “special rights,” even though they just protect people from being fired etc because they’re gay or black or whatever — that is, giving them the same protections (not being fired for a bad reason) as everyone else. Calling them “special” allows them to demonize their opponents, and plenty of ignorant people will believe it, so it’s important that the backers of this legislation address that misconception directly,

    Basically, bob, it comes down to this: bikes ARE different. They aren’t cars. They require muscle energy, not petroleum energy. If we want people to ride more, we have to get rid of unnecessary obstacles to riding. Someone riding in a car doesn’t have to exert a lot more muscle energy to overcome inertia after coming to a complete stop, whereas someone on a bike does, and that unnecessary exertion is an impediment to many riders who aren’t in great shape, may be a little older, etc.

    We always apply different standards to different modes of getting around. we don’t allow pedestrians to walk on the public freeways, for example, even though everyone paid for them, because it doesn’t make sense. Neither does it make sense to require a stop for bicyclists when a Yield will work better, as demonstrated in 26 years of experience in Idaho.

    Besides, is it really that different and special? Go watch any stop sign controlled intersection and tell us how many cars come to a complete stop.
    The red light issue isn’t in the legislation, and I’ve heard of no one who’d propose such a thing.

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  • […] is debating a law that would make stop signs into yields for cyclists. Bike Portland has been following this so-called Idaho Stop Law closely. Locally, Greater Greater Washington and WashCycle have […]

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  • Student Safety April 20, 2009 at 1:09 am

    #176, has any student at your child’s school been hit and injured by a bicyclist? What about killed by a cyclist? I assume the answer is no or you would have mentioned it.

    In all actuality the cyclists who are rolling that stop are mostly if not always doing so carefully and not hitting pedestrians. If there are cyclists that are going very quickly or not yielding the right of way to pedestrians then I believe they should be ticketed, as this bill proposes. The sad fact is that 50% of students who are hurt in traffic accidents near their school are hit by motor vehicles driven by another student’s parent. If you really cared about student safety you would get your kid to school by putting them on a school bus, having them walk, or ride a bike.

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  • […] an unexpected adventure. Once I got to the bottom of the hill, I stopped at the stop sign (because it’s the law) and then proceeded to re-start and climb a short but steep incline towards SE Stark St. […]

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  • Daniel Keough November 23, 2013 at 9:54 am

    I wish NYS would consider this state law! What a great way to encourage cycling, and perhaps to allow the drivers to “get over it” when a cyclist is being cautious though may yield a stop or only stop/pause at a red light after carefully checking for bike/ped/motor vehicles to yield to.
    I think this driver anger is a problem—“well they broke THE LAW! so I wouldn’t feel so bad if I hit them” is something I’ve heard a LOT of. People on bicycles ARE part of traffic, but with stopping distance, size, open view, etc, people on bikes are NOT cars. Why do we use the clumsy motor vehicle rules to apply to a mode of transportation that is so much DIFFERENT?

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  • wsbob November 23, 2013 at 2:53 pm

    “…Why do we use the clumsy motor vehicle rules to apply to a mode of transportation that is so much DIFFERENT? …” Daniel Keough

    Having an additional measure of uncertainty added to the already existing uncertainty of whether people riding bikes will or won’t stop at stop signs, likely would not be an addition to the challenges and responsibilities of driving, people that drive would welcome. This may be one of the big reasons why, in the U.S., the Idaho Stop hasn’t been adopted beyond Idaho’s borders.

    Going a little further on a related line of thinking…if the U.S. for example, in cases of collisions between bikes and motor vehicles, determined compensation for resulting property damage and personal injury on the basis of Strict Liability, the Idaho Stop could mean that in instances such as a collision between someone driving on a main road, (having the right of way), and someone biking on a side street (facing a stop sign) that failed to yield for the motor vehicle, with a collision being the result, the person driving the motor vehicle would nevertheless be liable, at least for 50 percent of whatever were the ensuing, collision related expenses of the person riding the bike.

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  • Daniel Keough January 2, 2014 at 4:57 pm

    When we find further ways to encourage people on bicycles, allow it to become a greater part of the culture—of transportation, not just re-reation, then changes like this will become more feasible.
    What you said, wsbob, is that there is already uncertainty ( I think you mean by the drivers) when I approach an intersection, whether in a car or in a bike and whether I have the R-O-W or the car, or the bike does, I make sure it is clear. As a cyclist I always yield to bikes, ped, cars, and when I’m in a car I do the same–and when I have the ROW I make sure the bike/ped see that I am going.
    uncertainty + uncertainty = uncertainty. You are arguing against something that is beneficial to those on bikes, something that MANY people already do in terms of it creating more UNcertainty. I see it as the road users would have the same level or perhaps more CERTAINTY that the cyclist likely won’t be sitting at the red light twiddling (in -10*F weather sometimes?) but will instead yield to traffic/ped and then continue. In many ways this is a good thing, encouraging a current behavior and allow drivers to EXPECT IT, but, as I see more importantly, for drivers to get beyond their ROAD RAGE that comes about in some drivers when they see stop & go at a red light EVEN IF the person on a bicycle in no way impeded this driver’s motion (who may simply still need to sit at the light).

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