LJWorld.com weblogs Rolling along
Stop the madness
First of all, let me say this: When I’m on my bike, I stop at stoplights and stop signs.
I can see the eyes rolling now.
By far the biggest complaint I hear about cyclists is that they flout traffic laws. Every. Single. One.
Cyclists blow through stop signs and blast through red lights.
But I really do stop.
Sometimes, though, I’ll admit that I might stop more in spirit than actuality. I’m not the only one to roll a stop sign.
Truth be told, a vast minority of vehicles — two-wheeled or four- or six- or 18- — actually come to a full and complete stop at controlled intersections.
Of course, it’s situational. Roll up to a red octagon in the middle of nowhere, in the middle of the night, with no one for miles around, and the stop becomes more of a hesitation. Roll up to a busy four-way at rush hour with a police car within view, and it’s letter-of-the-law time.
Which is why I’m intrigued by the Idaho Stop Law, a traffic provision enacted in 1982 that, in essence, allows cyclists to roll through stop signs at a slow speed if there are no other vehicles at the intersection. In other words, if there are no other vehicles, cyclists can treat stop signs as yield signs.
You’ll notice I said I’m intrigued, not necessarily that I’m in favor of the law, versions of which are being considered in other states, including Montana and California.
On one hand, I appreciate the concept. There’s no morality involved when it comes to stop signs. They exist simply to make travel safe for all road users. If there’s no one else to keep safe, what’s the harm in rolling a stop?
On the other hand, I abhor making exceptions for cyclists. There’s enough animosity between drivers and cyclists already. Creating a special privilege for cyclists, as the Idaho Stop Law does, is bound to create even more division.
I guess my thinking is this: If traffic volume is low enough at a given intersection to warrant a yield sign, then it should be a yield intersection for all vehicles.
Then again, I’m fiercely protective of my person and rather stubborn about it. If it’s in my best interest to come to a complete stop — regardless of the shape of the sign or status of the statute — I’ll do it.
And you can’t stop me.