Support BikePortland - Journalism that Matters

Oregon’s version of ‘Idaho stop’ rolls closer to passage

Posted by on June 13th, 2019 at 11:43 am

(Photo: J. Maus/BikePortland)

It’s not the Idaho Stop, but a law that would allow bicycle users to treat stop signs and flashing red signals as yields (when safe, of course) would be a major step forward for bicycle users in Oregon. And it just moved one major step closer to passage as the 2019 session rolls into its final few weeks.

Senate Bill 998 passed the Senate Rules Committee yesterday by a vote of 4-1. This comes two months after it passed the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Lane County Senator Floyd Prozanski — who introduced a bill inspired by Idaho’s law in 2003 — was the sole person to testify at the committee hearing yesterday. “What Idaho has is much broader than what’s been introduced here, he explained to the committee. “It [Idaho’s law] also allows bicycle riders to do the same [yield] at red lights. I believe that’s too far to go at this stage and that’s why we should follow what would be more the Delaware model.”

Delaware passed their law, which they call the “Delaware yield”, in 2017.

According to Prozanski, the main benefit of this law is that it would allow people on bicycles to maintain momentum at intersections and therefore be less likely to suffer from a collision or close-call. When bicycle riders come to a complete stop, the act of starting up again can make them vulnerable to being hit by other road users who can increase speed more quickly and easily.

Only two of the five senators on the committee made a comment before filing their vote. Republican Sen. Herman Baertschiger (Grants Pass) voted in favor of the bill. “If you want to ride your bicycle through a stop sign; very good,” he said, “But I would strongly suggest if you’re riding around the capitol today with all these log trucks [being driven around in protest of Oregon’s pending climate legislation], today wouldn’t be good day to do it.” Then everyone laughed.

Advertisement

Prozanski making his case.
(Screenshot from Oregon Legislative Information System website)

Committee Chair Senator Ginny Burdick said she feels the bill will be a boon for riders who click into their pedals with cleats. Removing feet from cleats at every stop sign can “sometimes be dangerous for those of us who are not particularly skilled,” she said; then added, “I will also point out that if anyone messes up it’s the bicyclist that pays the price, not the driver.”

Prozanski told his colleagues an additional benefit of the bill would be that more bicycle riders would stay away from more heavily congested streets and opt for residential ones if they knew they treat stop signs as yields.

Sen. Brian Boquist (R-Dallas) was the sole no vote. He didn’t explain why.

To clarify what SB 998 would do, below is the description taken from the official summary published by the Senate Rules Committee:

Senate Bill 998 A allows a bicyclist approaching an intersection regulated by a stop sign or flashing red light at a safe speed to proceed through that intersection or make a turn without stopping. It also creates traffic violation of improper entry into an intersection controlled by a stop sign and improper entry into an intersection controlled by a flashing red light. A violation of either occurs when a bicyclist fails to yield to traffic within the intersection or to traffic that is approaching so close as to constitute an immediate hazard, disobeys a police officer or flagger, fails to exercise care to avoid an accident, or fails to yield the right of way to a pedestrian. SB 998 A makes a violation of either a Class D traffic violation.

This is the third time Oregon has tried to pass a bill like this. Prozanski’s first attempt failed in 2003. Advocates tried again in 2009 but it didn’t have enough support.

From here the bill will move to the Senate floor for a vote. Assuming it passes it would then be referred to the House Rules Committee before it could advance to the House floor. Once it moves to the House, it will be imperative for supporters of the bill to make their voices heard. The end of the 2019 session is constitutionally set for June 30th, but there are rumors it could end even sooner.

Timing will be key. Hopefully the bill can keep moving through the process without coming to a complete stop.

In other legislative news, SB 558 — the bill that would allow any city in Oregon to reduce the speed limit on residential streets by 5 mph — is nearing a final vote in the House.

— Jonathan Maus: (503) 706-8804, @jonathan_maus on Twitter and jonathan@bikeportland.org

Never miss a story. Sign-up for the daily BP Headlines email.

BikePortland needs your support.

NOTE: We love your comments and work hard to ensure they are welcoming of all perspectives. Disagreements are encouraged, but only if done with tact and respect. BikePortland is an inclusive company with no tolerance for discrimination or harassment including expressions of racism, sexism, homophobia, or xenophobia. If you see a mean or inappropriate comment, please contact us and we'll take a look at it right away. Also, if you comment frequently, please consider holding your thoughts so that others can step forward. Thank you — Jonathan

44
Leave a Reply

avatar
9 Comment threads
35 Thread replies
0 Followers
 
Most reacted comment
Hottest comment thread
18 Comment authors
Mark smithEl BiciclerosorenqUSbike Recent comment authors
  Subscribe  
newest oldest most voted
Notify of
BrianC
Guest
BrianC

Well this all sounds fine and dandy… Experience has taught me to be careful what you ask for because you might just get it.

A few people will use this responsibly. The great majority will keep on keeping on, doing whatever they are doing now…

But, since I’m a contrary guy, some minor number of folks are going to interpret this as “Bike riders can completely ignore stop signs and red lights now!”

Many tears will follow…

Evan Manvel
Guest
Evan Manvel

If only there were like, 37 years of data from Idaho, one might be able to guess what might happen.

Who knows?

[shrug]

Mike Quigley
Guest
Mike Quigley

I’m from Boise (hope to go back soon). This is no bid deal there. As an issue it is completely ignored by everybody. Portland seems to be stressed and glum about nearly everything. Maybe thoughts of the Big One are keeping everyone on edge?

Mark smith
Guest
Mark smith

What nobody will say is, generally people riding who are confident, don’t stop for unpopulated intersections. Neither do cars, but since they are immune, that’s a non issue apparently. Stop signs are designed for, meant for….vehicles. not people walking or on bikes. In addition, stop signs are stupid and serve no purpose that a good sign would not. But we are America and therefore into redundancy. And since stop sign tickets are lucrative, they will stay around.

Say, isn’t there still a stop sign at 39th and glisan and a roundabout?

El Biciclero
Guest
El Biciclero

Not to be nit-picky, but Idaho’s law does not allow “the same” for red lights. Red lights require a full stop before proceeding “carefully”—much the same as Oregon’s “dead red” amendment, but without the wait time requirements.

Mark smith
Guest
Mark smith

This bill threatens the very existence of the signal and traffic engineer folks. The needs for signs is nearly zero outside of wayfinding. If roads are designed right, you don’t need much at all. So…the whole “orderly movement” trope…is well tripe. https://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=18217318

Mark smith
Guest
Mark smith

Middle of The Road Guy
Complex systems (more than one operator) generally work best when there is ordered predictability in them. We know what the other person will do and behave accordingly.Less definition results in more interpretation, and more interpretation frequently leads to different outcomes. Not a good thing in a traffic network.A stop sign isn’t stupid just because it provides a minor inconvenience. It’s dictating a defined action. You want this kind of order to enable better safety.I just watched a cyclist blow throw a 4 way stop sign in front of several other vehicles which were stopped and waiting their turn. Doesn’t that sign also apply to him – he just introduced a lot of potential risk into the system.At present, all road users are required to obey all of the laws equally. We don’t get to pick and choose just because it’s inconvenient or you believe your selfishness takes precedence.Recommended 2

The language “blew through a stop sign” gives away your bias. The bike is Zero threat to ancar. Cars at 1 mile an hour can kill. So the sign is there for one reason. Cars.

Mark smith
Guest
Mark smith

bendite
That’s no roundabout, that’s a regular stop at a ‘T’ intersection, but the top part of the T is curved.Recommended 1

Were you high when you wrote this? It’s a round about. Oh my gosh. Stockholm syndrome maybe?

10 years later, stop signs a roundabout in Portland. What…do these hallowed engineers think portlanders are too stupid?

https://www.oregonlive.com/commuting/2009/10/chaos_a_roundabout_way_to_defe.html

Mark smith
Guest
Mark smith

Middle of the Road Guy
The sign is there for one reason – taking turns.Lose your sense of entitlement. You are not special. Obey the laws – You don’t get to pick and choose which ones fit. If you get hit while disregarding a stop sign, it’s your fault.Recommended 2

I actually do get to pick and choose what I want to follow. Signs are for vehicles attached to heavy bodies. There is zero guarantee there will be justice for me if I allegedly follow every car sign