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Idaho stop law set for first hearing and vote in Salem

Posted by on March 5th, 2009 at 11:05 am

salmon street stop sign

(Photo © J. Maus)

The BTA’s proposal for an Idaho-style stop sign law will get its first public hearing and committee vote later this month.

BTA lobbyist Karl Rohde told me this morning that the bill, HB 2690, is scheduled to go in front of the House Transportation Committee at 1:00 p.m. on Wednesday, March 18th.

Rohde said committee chair Terry Beyer (D-Springfield) has committed to a vote on the issue (a vote is not guaranteed at public hearings) unless major questions and/or requests for significant amendments are raised during testimony.

Now, the work begins for Rohde to prepare for this important committee vote. “We will be working in the next two weeks to prepare a series of people to testify in favor of the bill,” he said via telephone earlier today, “as well as begin outreach to members and interested parties in the districts represented by these committee members.”

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Rohde also said he’ll try and line up some key people to testify including lawyers Ray Thomas and Bob Mionske.

Rohde said he thinks the chances are good that the bill will pass through the committee. One ace up his sleeve is rookie Rep. Jules Bailey (D-Portland). Bailey is on the Transportation Committee and will be a strong supporter of the bill. Rohde said Bailey is also working behind the scenes to convince his colleagues of the merits of going Idaho-style. According to Rohde, “Bailey will argue vociferously for it…he feels very strongly about it.”

“We’re not de-criminalizing bad behavior, we’re de-criminalizing good behavior. Bad behavior will still be illegal.”
— BTA lobbyist Karl Rohde in response to a question on a local radio show

So far, Rohde has not heard of any major opposition to the bill. One reason might be because everyone is so focused on dealing with Oregon’s economic crisis and budget woes. Fortunately for Rohde, HB 2690 does not have a fiscal impact. At least, not any more…

Initially, the BTA included a stipulation in the bill that would have allowed cities to designate certain intersections where the new law would not apply (for instance where there was dangerous and high-speed cross traffic). In those cases, a new sign would have to be installed under the existing stop sign to designate that bikes must come to a complete stop every time. This component of the bill had some people concerned about how much those signs would cost.

However, I just learned a few minutes ago that that stipulation is no longer in the bill. The reason? That sign does not currently exist in the all-important roadway design standards bible, the Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices (the MUTCD). Because it is not in the MUTCD, the Legislative Counsel (the body in the legislature that writes bill language) could not include language in the bill that would have required the sign — so the entire section is now gone (Rohde said he’ll update their FAQ to reflect this).

In addition to working the halls in Salem, Rohde has also been making the rounds in the media. Earlier this week he was on a local radio talk show. The host wondered whether allowing bikes to treat stop signs as yields would encourage unsafe behavior. Rohde’s zinger comeback? “We’re not de-criminalizing bad behavior, we’re de-criminalizing good behavior. Bad behavior will still be illegal.”

Browse all of our Idaho stop law coverage.

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bahueh
Guest
bahueh

Rohde’s zinger comeback? “We’re not de-criminalizing bad behavior, we’re de-criminalizing good behavior. Bad behavior will still be illegal.”

and how exactly is running stop signs “good behavior”?

Bjorn
Guest
Bjorn

Karl’s point was that running a stop sign, at high speed, or when there is another vehicle that has the right of way is bad behavior and will continue to be illegal. However slowing down, looking both ways, recognizing that there are no other vehicles or pedestrians in the intersection and then continuing through without having to stop and put your foot down is good safe riding behavior and there is no reason for that to be illegal.

Bjorn

Oliver
Guest
Oliver

Still way too much consideration (apparently reinforced by recent police action at Ladd’s?) for the erroneous idea that a full stop requires putting one’s foot down.

I can stop without putting my foot down as easily as I can put my foot down without stopping.

It’s not the law.

beelnite
Guest
beelnite

Props to Bjorn…

I would add:

… and sometimes, it just helps everyone and is actually safer if you can just get out of the intersection as quickly and safely as possible.

bahueh
Guest
bahueh

beelnite..the logic that “quickly” = “safely” is flawed…

Close- but no
Guest
Close- but no

Why can’t I just slow down and look both ways in my truck and, assuming there is no traffic, roll it?

California roll (not sushi)for Oregon!

a.O
Guest
a.O

Give it a rest, bahueh. You already know that the law doesn’t change any right of way, only the need to totally stop the wheels from moving when not necessary.

Bjorn
Guest
Bjorn

#6 when driving a truck you have pillars which reduce your ability to see out of the vehicle. There could easily be a pedestrian or cyclist hiding behind the metal between your windshield and your side window, that does not exist on a bicycle. Most of the time in a truck you will have windows up, engine noise, and possibly a radio on, meaning you can’t hear well enough to know if other users are near an intersection. Your truck is far less maneuverable than either a pedestrian walking or a bicycle, therefore it is more difficult for you to stop or react in such a way as to avoid a collision if you don’t see another user. Finally if you mess up and cause a collision in your truck even at slow speed you can easily do substantial property damage and injury to others with your truck, whereas non-motorized users are far less likely to inflict injury/damage on others. So there you have it, my list of why a truck might need to stop when a bicycle might not.

As an interesting side note not only do pedestrians not have to stop at stop signs but they also have the right of way. This law would put cyclists somewhere in the middle, preserving the current right of way laws but relaxing the need to stop at every stop sign even on very low traffic streets.

Bjorn

El Biciclero
Guest
El Biciclero

r.e. #5:

The logic that “sometimes” = “always” is flawed.

El Biciclero
Guest
El Biciclero

Sorry, that was flippant. But it seems the spirit of this law is to put degree of “stopping” at the discretion of the cyclist. It will not mean that cyclists never stop. Full stopping (foot down or not) will still be required sometimes. And sometimes, quickly is safely.

Whyat
Guest
Whyat

I think the real issue here is that there are way too many stop signs for bikes and cars. They have become speed bumps for every paranoid neighborhood in this country. If stop signs were used judiciously, and the unnecessary ones removed, this topic would be a non-issue. My 2 cents.

Close- but no
Guest
Close- but no

Bjorn-

I disagree with your reasons, but that’s what makes forums great.

There could be, and have been, lists just as long for the argument that cyclists should stop, furthermore, most of your arguments could have a word changed here and there and be used against cyclists.

My point is this: When you take away the law that requires you to stop, you are empowering the rider/driver to make their own judgement when it pertains to the safety of not only themselves, but others. That could be the driver that does not see you due to the metal between the windshield and door, or the cyclist that feels they can beat traffic (bike or auto). You are creating an opportunity for really bad judgement.

I would rather eliminate those opportunities, even at the inconvenience of an extra 30 seconds on my 8 mile commute.

Evan Manvel
Guest
Evan Manvel

Again, it’s Legislative Counsel, not legislative council (i.e. it’s attorneys, not some committee).

Krampus
Guest
Krampus

My problem with these rolling stops is that cyclists will then assume drivers should stop so that cyclists can roll through. A cyclist coming from the south may be a millisecond behind the driver pulling up to a 4 way stop from the west, but the cyclist, aware of the rolling stop law, will then increase momentum before fully arriving at the stop sign so as to use the rolling stop law as his or her excuse, even though technically the car had the right of way.

Why are so many people so upset about having to stop? Sure it can be annoying at times but there are so many other things I’d rather waste my time griping about than the extra 2 seconds it takes for me to stop then start again.

ScottG
Guest
ScottG

Personally I’d rather see lower fines for bicycle traffic infractions than Idaho stops. But if the law passes I’m not going to complain, either.

Mark C
Guest
Mark C

Unclipping from clipless pedals and putting my foot down at a stop sign on a low traffic neighborhood street, where there are no moving cars in sight, is a pain-in-the-a** and totally pointless – especially when it has to be repeated on every other block.

Law change or not, I will continue to slowly approach stops and roll through without stopping if it is safe to do so. For those who can track stand so they don’t have to unclip, good for you, knock yourselves out.

Instead of worrying about people who don’t come to a total stop at stop signs, law enforcement needs to be focused on the idiot helmetless cyclist I saw yesterday who blew through the signal light at NE Multnomah & 13th. I was stopped on my bike at the same intersection and he just blasted right past me.

Erik
Guest
Erik

@ #8:

“…you are empowering the rider/driver to make their own judgement when it pertains to the safety of not only themselves, but others”

Isn’t this ALWAYS the situation when ANYONE uses the roads. There will always be opportunities for people to make bad judgements. The goal, as I see it, is to allow cycles to make good judgements when the situation allows.

Mike
Guest
Mike

Close- but no:

Well you SAY there’s an equally valid list why bicycles should have to stop, but you don’t have one. Let’s see it! Then WE can judge whether it’s as good as Bjorn’s 🙂

Meghan H
Guest
Meghan H

Sometimes coming to a full, foot-down stop is not something that preserves my physical safety. I have, on numerous occasions, felt menaced by traffic behind me. I’ve encountered drivers who clearly communicate that you’re a target for harassment if you don’t get the hell out of their way. Not having to do a full stop if it’s not necessary would help me feel safer.

PdxMark
Guest
PdxMark

Let’s not forget what the bill says:

A person operating a bicycle who is
approaching an intersection where traffic is controlled by a stop
sign may do any of the following
without stopping if the person slows the bicycle to a safe speed:
(a) Proceed through the intersection.
(b) Make a right or left turn into a two-way street.
(c) Make a right or left turn into a one-way street in the
direction of traffic upon the one-way street.

(2) A person commits the offense of improper entry into an
intersection where traffic is controlled by a stop sign if the
person does any of the following while proceeding as described in
subsection (1) of this section:
(a) Fails to yield the right of way to traffic lawfully within
the intersection or approaching so close as to constitute an
immediate hazard;
(b) Disobeys the directions of a police officer;
(c) Fails to exercise care to avoid an accident; or
(d) Fails to yield the right of way to a pedestrian in an
intersection or crosswalk under ORS 811.028.

Here’s the existing law for yield signs (ORS 811.260(12)):

Yield signs. A driver approaching a yield sign shall slow the driver’s vehicle to a speed reasonable for the existing conditions and if necessary for safety, shall stop at a line as required for stop signs under this section, and shall yield the right of way to any vehicles in the intersection or approaching so closely as to constitute an immediate hazard.

Nothing about the Oregon version of the Idaho stop law gives cyclists any priority to right of way over any other road use, and always requires that a cyclist slow to a safe speed. It doesn’t seem to remotely bring about the end of roadway civilization.

Close- but no
Guest
Close- but no

#16
Isn’t this ALWAYS the situation when ANYONE uses the roads. There will always be opportunities for people to make bad judgements. The goal, as I see it, is to allow DRIVERS to make good judgements when the situation allows.

Easy enough.

#17 Ok, just for fun:

Most of the time in a truck you will have windows up, engine noise, and possibly a radio on, meaning you can’t hear well enough to know if other users are near an intersection.
Many cyclists use headphones while they are riding, this does not allow them to hear what is going on around them.

Your truck is far less maneuverable than either a pedestrian walking or a bicycle, therefore it is more difficult for you to stop or react in such a way as to avoid a collision if you don’t see another user.
Most cyclists are not able to accelerate as quick as a vehicle in order to get out of harms way. (In support of post 4).

Finally if you mess up and cause a collision in your truck even at slow speed you can easily do substantial property damage and injury to others with your truck, whereas non-motorized users are far less likely to inflict injury/damage on others.
You sound as though you have never been hit by another cyclist. Not accusing or implying anything, but there are alot of cyclists out there who have been more messed up by fellow cyclists than by drivers. Myself included.

My truck sits higher off the ground than a bike, which allows me (in some regards) a better view of the intersection than a bicycle.

Most vehicles are equipped with safety equipment in the event of an accident.

Most vehicles are equipped with indicator lights (brake, turn) allowing those converging on the intersection to know what the driver is about to do.

Drivers are required to be educated and permitted before taking to the roads. Cyclists have no standards.

Drivers are required to be insured, cyclists are not. In the event of an accident bike or motorized, this can be really important.

I am not for anyone running a stop sign, bike or otherwise. I am for reducing the number of stop signs; especially in exchange for roundabouts and speedbumps.

Bjorn
Guest
Bjorn

If we look at the most recent data for oregon I was able to find we see that in 2005 for all injuries resulting from traffic in oregon 502 people had injuries great enough to be tracked by the state. Of those 502 none were caused by a cyclist, all were caused by motorized vehicles. Obviously motorized vehicles also represent a greater percentage of miles traveled than bicycles, and it is possible for a bicyclist to cause a crash which results in someone else being hurt, but it is downright silly to claim that bicycles represent a similar danger to other road users as motorized vehicles do.

peejay
Guest
peejay

Close #20:

I try to look for common ground, and find plenty in your last post. I completely agree about the importance of reducing the frequency of stop signs. They are a terribly flawed traffic control. I am also in favor of properly designed roundabouts. For instance, the one in Ladd’s Circle is well designed, and would function so much better without stop signs for all traffic. The one at Coe Circle would need some work on sightlines, and the relocation of those dangerous bus stops from the middle of the circle.

And I understand your theory: that if judgement is good enough for bikes, why can’t cars (and trucks) use it too? I could point out a couple of counter arguments (some of which have already been stated by others), but for now, forget that. Instead, think about this: if slow-and-go works really well for bikes, then perhaps it might pave the way (pun!) for a new paradigm in traffic control, which shifts from a regime of proscribed behaviors to a regime of personal responsibilities. It would notbe a world of lawlessness, but one where laws govern outcomes, not sign-reading.

So, perhaps you could view this moment as a first step in the process, and join us, not fight us.

r
Guest
r

comment 14: “cyclists will then assume drivers should stop so that cyclists can roll through.”

— what are you talking about? why would anyone “assume” that traffic on a cross street with no stop would stop?

comment 14: “but the cyclist, aware of the rolling stop law, will then increase momentum before fully arriving at the stop sign so as to use the rolling stop law as his or her excuse”

— excuse for, um, getting herself hurt or killed? a cyclist approaching a stop seeing cross traffic approaching on the dominant road slows down. the proposed rolling stop law affirmatively requires — in words — that the cyclist slow down. again, what are you talking about?

comment 14: “the extra 2 seconds it takes for me to stop then start again.”

— setting aside the fact that a great deal more energy is required to start from a dead stop than to resume speed from having merely slowed down (see, um, Isaac Newton), there is the matter of spending that much longer in an intersection. an intersection is the most vulnerable place for a cyclist (or a pedestrian, or for that matter a motorist) to be.

revphil
Guest

perhaps it is the language that is causing so many people to take issue.

Bikers will not be allowed to “run” a stop sign… more like “jog” or even “walk a stop sign.”

The concerns for everyone’s safety are commendable. Thanks for sharing your opinion.

I am confident that bringing Idaho Style to Oregon will make traffic flow better.

Stig
Guest
Stig

In the UK ‘Give Way’ signs are used instead of ‘Stop’ signs. You’re required to slow down and yield right of way, stopping only as needed to wait for cross traffic. Makes much more sense! If only they’d come to Oregon.

peejay
Guest
peejay

Sometimes I feel as if some people on this thread have never even ridden a bicycle!

1) Who actually thinks that a truck affords a better view of one’s surroundings than a bike?

2) Who actually puts one’s foot down in a clear intersection, counts a second, and gets up and starts again?

3) Who, when approaching a busy street with an open window of traffic, does not go right away, but instead takes the time to come to a complete stop while the window of traffic closes?

4) Most of all, who does not already practice some form of Idaho stop already, as it is truly the most natural behavior with which to deal with stop signs?

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[…] Idaho stop law set for first hearing and vote in Salem and fizzles out in Arizona Bike Portland […]

Tasha
Guest
Tasha

I completely agree with peejay. These things already happen. I ride on many back streets and very rarely do I ever come to a complete stop every single stop sign (which is normally every other block, and see above Isaac Newton commment-nice!). I know that cars also do this, but that they rarely take the back streets, because it is a pain in the booty and take a lot longer than just taking a main road.

I think what this law does is just validates that this is safe and efficient and takes away the incentive to ticket cyclists $280 for doing something completely safe and logical just because some guy decides to complain about it. OF COURSE you will have the silly people who take advantage of this law to run stop signs and act like idiots, but should we base our society around these few people, no one would be allowed to leave the house and there would be laws for every single action one takes every single day.

So, let’s been sensible and not argue about those few people. Instead, let’s look at the whole picture and see what is best for the flow of traffic and the safety of all users of the road. Hopefully, if the law passes (which I hope it does), we’ll use our heads to make the right decisions and not put ourselves or others in harms way.

El Biciclero
Guest
El Biciclero

Stig said, “In the UK ‘Give Way’ signs are used instead of ‘Stop’ signs. You’re required to slow down and yield right of way, stopping only as needed to wait for cross traffic. Makes much more sense! If only they’d come to Oregon.”

Yeah, but in the UK, every friggin’ intersection is a roundabout. Sometimes I yearned for a good old fashioned 4-way stop when I was driving over there…

Rixtir
Guest
Rixtir

peejay, #27:

Sometimes I feel as if some people on this thread have never even ridden a bicycle!

2) Who actually puts one’s foot down in a clear intersection, counts a second, and gets up and starts again?

3) Who, when approaching a busy street with an open window of traffic, does not go right away, but instead takes the time to come to a complete stop while the window of traffic closes?

4) Most of all, who does not already practice some form of Idaho stop already, as it is truly the most natural behavior with which to deal with stop signs?

Me.

peejay
Guest
peejay

Rixtir:

And nobody’s stopping you from doing what you’re doing. But “Act just like rixtir” is not the best traffic law!

Rixtir
Guest
Rixtir

Irrelevant. Your argument implied that people who actually ride bikes don’t follow the law.

And given that you advocate “personal responsibility” in place of preventive measures– a bad idea that sounds good if you don’t put any thought into it– “peejay”s law” is most definitely not the best traffic law.

peejay
Guest
peejay

Rixtir:

Here’s a question for you: is the ultimate objective for traffic law to achieve full compliance with the law, or is it to achieve high traffic safety while all road users can operate efficiently on the roads?

Rixtir
Guest
Rixtir

I think the answer should be obvious. In fact, the point of A is to achieve B– something you are (falsely) implying is mutually exclusive.

peejay
Guest
peejay

Not at all. I’m implying fixation on the former might not get you the latter. In addition, I’m implying that if the laws were tweaked such that a range of safe but illegal behaviors were made legal, then both A and B would be improved.

Close- but no
Guest
Close- but no

Bjorn-
I agree that cars represent more miles traveled than bikes, but how does that factor into anything?
As far as the rest of the data, who is compiling it, and how? In a bike vs bike accident, who does one report this to? Police don’t care about car vs bike, let alone bike vs bike. I have never reported any of my accidents, does this mean they did not occur or were not serious in nature?
And I think it is downright silly to believe that bicycles do not represent a similar danger to other road users as motorized vehicles do. Granted, the damage is not likely to be as severe, but who’s to say that’s the case in every instance?

My question is this: what is the true intent of this law? to reduce accidents or save people seconds on their commute?

Close- but no
Guest
Close- but no

Peejay-
You have taken my statement out of context. I stated:
My truck sits higher off the ground than a bike, which allows me (in some regards) a better view of the intersection than a bicycle.

In what regards, you could have asked…
I would have replied that I am better positioned to see over parked cars.

And just because I do not support this bill, and the fact that I own a terribly ineffecient gas guzzling SUV doesn’t mean that I haven’t ridden a bicycle before; I had a Huffy 10 speed when I was 10.

Rixtir
Guest
Rixtir

Peejay, I really don’t see how that is related in any way to:

1) Your implying that “real cyclists” don’t follow the law; and

2) Your prior argument that we should replace preventive measures in the law with “personal responsibility.”

That said, I have to disagree with your statement that fixation on obeying the law might not get you high traffic safety. If all road users were following the law all the time, collisions would be few and far between. Occasionally, somebody would have a heart attack while driving (and thus, crash), or a driver would have a blow-out (and crash), or a RR track would send a cyclist to the ground, but most “accidents” would not occur, because everybody would be observing their legal duties. The fact is, most collisions occur because one or more persons involved are not observing their legal duties. If everybody using the roads were “fixated on obeying the law,” we would achieve almost perfect traffic safety. The fact that we don’t achieve that is a reflection of the fact that people don’t follow the law, rather than proof, as you suggest, that following the law doesn’t result in high traffic safety.

Of course, stopping and waiting at a completely deserted intersection does not make the cyclist safer than rolling through, but that is a different issue than the one you’re posing.

duncansadat
Guest
duncansadat

To Rixtir:

You are wrong about what Peejay said(and Peejay, if I’m wrong about you , let me know).

Rixtir said: “Of course, stopping and waiting at a completely deserted intersection does not make the cyclist safer than rolling through, but that is a different issue than the one you’re posing.”

Really? I thought Peejay said this: “Is the ultimate objective for traffic law to achieve full compliance with the law, or is it to achieve high traffic safety while all road users can operate efficiently on the roads?”

As far as I am concerned, “stopping and waiting at a completely deserted intersection” is VASTLY inefficient. This is EXACTLY what Peejay is getting at.

Rixtir, it sounds as if you are a very law-abiding guy. I can say I am not all of the time. I use and trust my judgement. In my 17 years of daily commuting, it has only failed me once. I have been struck by a vehicle 5 times. Excepting one instance, every collison has been in an intersection and I was following the letter of the law.

It seems you believe that following the letter of the law will keep cyclists safe. As demonstrated by my collision history, this is not the case.

By contrast, when I lived in Paris and biked daily, I was never once struck by a vehicle and I don’t recall a single stopSIGN (as apposed to stopLIGHT).

Using our best judgement on the road, and having laws that encourage us to make these judgements for ourselves, increases our safety by encouraging us to use our best judgement….and so forth. How awesomely cyclical that is!!!

peejay
Guest
peejay

Let me rephrase my proposition. I had said earlier that rigid following of the law would not lead to a safer outcome. And, rixtir, you make a valid case that if everyone followed the law at all times, the level of safety would go up dramatically. I cannot argue with that. The problem with that argument is that it’s not achievable, and we all know it. So, why is that? Try this:

Rigid adherence to all traffic signs may make people less safe.

We have a set of laws that govern our behavior, some of which, like (and I paraphrase, since I don’t have the law book in front of me) “Stop at stop signs” and “obey the posted speed limits” are indicated in real time by signs that you read as you drive. Others, like “yield to vehicles that have right of way” and “don’t follow too closely” are not usually indicated in real time. Many of these laws require one to be cognizant and aware of one’s surroundings. Sometimes, in an attempt to follow all the “signed” laws, one may break the unsigned laws.

People may feel that a rote adherence to all signs is sufficient for safety, and stop paying enough attention to the road conditions. They may keep driving 65 on a freeway during periods of bad weather, when the “unsigned” law says not to drive faster than conditions allow. They may come to a stop at an intersection, and then proceed even though there’s another vehicle that has right of way. (This happened to me last night. I watched the guy stop, and then accelerate right at me, and had to take evasive actions to avoid a collision.)

Vehicle operators may develop a tunnel vision that encompasses the angle of view sufficient to read the signs they need to read, and maybe if we’re lucky, might also include a patch of road directly in front of them. As such, it can be shown that overemphasis on signed laws can lead to the reduction in compliance of unsigned laws.

It nearly cost me my life yesterday, so I have some skin in the game.

Rixtir
Guest
Rixtir

# 40: It seems you believe that following the letter of the law will keep cyclists safe. As demonstrated by my collision history, this is not the case.

Actually, what I said was (paraphrasing here) if everybody followed the law, collisions would be few and far between. Of course, as you point out, if cyclists were the only vehicle operators observing the law, traffic safety would still suffer. As your own experiences demonstrate, when you’re observing the law, but the driver isn’t, collisions happen.

As regards “efficiency,” stopping and waiting at a deserted intersection is VASTLY inefficient for motor vehicles too. In fact, more so. But sometimes we sacrifice “efficiency” for other objectives. It’s still neither here nor there– the comment i took issue with wasn’t about whether the Idaho law makes sense, it was the comment implying that all “real cyclists” disobey the law.

Rixtir
Guest
Rixtir

Peejay, #41: Let me rephrase my proposition. I had said earlier that rigid following of the law would not lead to a safer outcome. And, rixtir, you make a valid case that if everyone followed the law at all times, the level of safety would go up dramatically. I cannot argue with that. The problem with that argument is that it’s not achievable, and we all know it. So, why is that?
Too many people don’t take their legal duties seriously, whether that means unintentionally breaking the law by not paying attention to the road (the stereotypical cell phone-yakking SUV driver we see out there every day) or intentionally breaking the law (the driver I saw a week ago who deliberately blew through 2 red lights at speed, narrowly escaping a crash at the second intersection).

Try this:
Rigid adherence to all traffic signs may make people less safe.

I don’t disagree. I’ve been rear-ended twice while stopped at a red light. Both times, I was driving, thankfully. The second time, my car was totaled.
We also all know that a bike starting out from a dead stop is slower and less maneuverable than a bike that is rolling.

We have a set of laws that govern our behavior, some of which, like (and I paraphrase, since I don’t have the law book in front of me) “Stop at stop signs” and “obey the posted speed limits” are indicated in real time by signs that you read as you drive. Others, like “yield to vehicles that have right of way” and “don’t follow too closely” are not usually indicated in real time. Many of these laws require one to be cognizant and aware of one’s surroundings. Sometimes, in an attempt to follow all the “signed” laws, one may break the unsigned laws.
People may feel that a rote adherence to all signs is sufficient for safety, and stop paying enough attention to the road conditions. They may keep driving 65 on a freeway during periods of bad weather, when the “unsigned” law says not to drive faster than conditions allow. They may come to a stop at an intersection, and then proceed even though there’s another vehicle that has right of way. (This happened to me last night. I watched the guy stop, and then accelerate right at me, and had to take evasive actions to avoid a collision.)
Vehicle operators may develop a tunnel vision that encompasses the angle of view sufficient to read the signs they need to read, and maybe if we’re lucky, might also include a patch of road directly in front of them. As such, it can be shown that overemphasis on signed laws can lead to the reduction in compliance of unsigned laws.
It nearly cost me my life yesterday, so I have some skin in the game.

Glad you’re OK, I had a similar incident on the bike, although not nearly as life-threatening, more along the lines of “rude.” Now, as a pedestrian, I’ve had drivers try, apparently, to kill me.

I don’t disagree with what you’re saying—observing one’s legal duties is much more nuanced than simply paying rote observance to a traffic sign. One can do that, and still be breaking the law. Just as one can be disregarding a traffic sign, and still be safe.

The issue, I think, is that at any given time and place on the road, people are making subjective decisions about what is safe. Some of those decisions will be good decisions, some will be bad decisions. The goal of traffic laws intended to prevent collisions before they occur is to establish an objective standard for decision-making that everybody can understand and follow, and that serves as a basis for assigning liability when people inevitably fail to meet their duties. It doesn’t matter what the law actually is—it can be stop at a stop sign, or stop as yield—the main goal of the law is to effect public safety, and it does so (or at least attempts to do so) by establishing common objective standards that are applicable to our subjective decision-making.

Zaphod
Guest

By reading these posts what I’m hearing is that the range of people who could be characterized as vocal set of the “biking community” can’t or don’t agree on whether this is a good idea or not.

I sense, for those against approval of this law, that there’s a sort of profiling of cyclists going on. What I mean is that even though the anti-idaho stop are cyclists too, they’re profiling the average cyclist as either a scofflaw or unable to make sensible and safe decisions for themselves.

I get it, I mean ‘ell, I’ve stopped at a stop sign only to have some punk/idiot blow past me on my right no less. I’ve had plenty of cases where I have to react due to the stupidity of other cyclists. So there certainly is a subgroup that takes a lot of risks. I don’t want to be associated with them nor do I want to somehow receive the anger of a motorist as a result. This law will not impact this subgroup one bit.

But that’s not me and I know what I’m doing. I’d benefit from not having to bring the fully loaded (200 pounds of cargo + 165 pound rider + 40 pound bike) cargo bike to a dead stop when it’s (by ANY RATIONAL MEASURE) a pointless thing to do.

What is up with the apparent pride in the noble complete stop?

“I do a complete stop”
“Well I put my foot down”
“Ahem, I put BOTH feet down.”
“I can top you… I put both feet down and reach down and touch the ground with my hand.”

Rixtir
Guest
Rixtir

But you don’t dismount and KISS the ground, do you? 😉

duncansadat
Guest
duncansadat

Nice comeback, Rixtir. I all-of-the-sudden like you a lot more.

Keep on keepin’.

Also, I’d like to say: good job to (almost) everyone keeping the posts on-topic and genial. This is the most civilized internet dissagreement I’ve seen/been a part of in a long time. It’s refreshing.

peejay
Guest
peejay

Rixtir:

Sorry, I was away, commenting on the much more serious stories about the atrocious CRC proposal.

Anyway, this discussion fits the typical pattern of arguments we’ve had in the past: strong disagreements, followed by the realization that you and I share a lot of common ground. I can’t make you see my way, and you can’t make me see yours. I would, however, encourage you to read up on some new work being done on traffic theory (sorry, I can’t provide the links right now, but google is your friend) and serious studies that have been done researching signs and compliance. The fact is that we have a dangerous situation on the roads right now, and we also have low rates of bicycle usage. Both of those are bad, and both must be addressed together to make progress on either.

Christopher
Guest

re: whyat

really? there’s no stop signs in my neighborhood and people do fifty through here all the time because of it. if they had to stop at every other intersection they would never get up that fast without running them, which still happens at the few we have.

peejay
Guest
peejay

christopher:

Actually, whyat makes some sense here. Stop signs are ineffective traffic control devices, yet we’re used to them, and design our streets to rely on them. It’s probably not a good idea to just take out stop signs without doing something else, though.

azbikelaw
Guest

A Similar bill failed in committee last week in Arizona:

http://azbikelaw.org/blog/bicycle-legistation-introduced/