San Diego Considers Idaho Stop for Cyclists

Child wearing bicycle helmet in bicycle accidentWould it make cycling safer if cyclists were allowed to roll through stop signs without stopping? It sounds counterintuitive, but two Democratic lawmakers say otherwise. Assemblymen Jay Overnolte (R-Hesperia) and Phil Ting (D-San Francisco) teamed up to introduce their measure that would allow cyclists to treat stop signs as yield signs, allowing them to proceed with caution if conditions are safe. The law would not affect how cyclists respond to red lights.

Only one state in the country currently allows cyclists to roll through stop signs – Idaho. And in Idaho, after the law was enacted, bike-related injuries did decrease. The logic behind the bill states that stopping at stop signs means that cyclists spend more time in intersections because they have to regain their speed to cross. This exposes them to dangers from other drivers who fail to stop.

Reception by cyclists has been mixed. Andy Henshaw, the executive director of the San Diego County Bicycle Coalition, thinks it is a good idea that will not only increase safety, but also improve traffic flow. Mo Karimi, owner of San Diego Bike Shop, says it is a bad idea because it might create uncertainty between motorists and cyclists, especially in more developed areas. This uncertainty could lead to more accidents, Karimi argues.

What do you think? Should California allow cyclists to treat stop signs like yield signs, or is it safer for cyclists to follow the same rules of the road as other vehicles?