Tag Archive: idaho stop

Friday Musing: The “Idaho Stop”

The other day, I stumbled across a great essay on the somewhat controversial “Idaho Stop”, where cyclists are allowed to treat stop signs as yield signs if the coast is clear. The concept tends not to be too popular with “vehicular cycling” proponents, who believe that bicycles must follow all of the rules and regs that are applied to motor vehicles. The rub is that in a number of areas, the “Idaho Stop” is a law on the books, geared specifically to cyclists’s unique road needs.

If you’ve looked around a city lately, you might’ve noticed that many cyclists don’t obey many traffic laws. They roll through stop signs, instead of coming to a complete stop, and brazenly ride through red lights if there aren’t any cars coming.

Cyclists reading this might be nodding guiltily in recognition of their own behavior. Drivers might be angrily remembering the last biker they saw flout the law, wondering when traffic police will finally crack down and assign some tickets.

But the cyclists are probably in the right here. While it’s obviously reckless for them to blow through an intersection when they don’t have the right of way, research and common sense say that slowly rolling through a stop sign on a bike shouldn’t be illegal in the first place.

Take a look at this thoughtful and comprehensive essay by visiting the Vox page here.

We’d love to hear your thoughts on the Idaho Stop, and other cycling-specific laws or practices. Leave them in the comments below.

Detroit cyclist gets a ticket and possible child endangerment charges

Here’s sort of an odd one that appeared in my inbox courtesy of Ann Rappaport:

On September 2nd, Sean Harrington biked to the Detroit RiverWalk with his twin sons in a bike trailer. On the way home, he took the sidewalk north on Park Avenue, which is a one way side street heading south.

When pedestrians and construction scaffolding blocked the sidewalk, he rode on the road for about four car lengths.

That was apparently too much for Detroit Police who issued Harrington a $110 ticket and now may face charges of child endangerment.

Read the full article and commentary by visiting the M-Bike page.

On its surface, this one seems like a “geezus, don’t the cops have anything better to do?” kind of story, but I want to throw a few points out for discussion. First, many cyclists understand that in order to be taken seriously as legitimate road users, we must abide by the various vehicle laws on the books and ride according to those laws. Second, just as many of us cry foul when we see motorists breaking assorted laws…meanwhile, we’re running stop signs and blowing through red lights without a care in the world. Third, many of the vehicle laws are tough to apply evenly between bikes and motor vehicles, giving rise to such flexible rules such as the “Idaho stop“. Frankly, some of the laws on the books can inconvenience cyclists…when the shortest and safest route between two points means going the wrong way on a one-way street, can we just do it? Sometimes, even with our increased maneuverability on two wheels, just because we CAN doesn’t mean we SHOULD.

The pending case in Detroit is a bit over-the-top in terms of charges, but perhaps the Detroit Police are trying to send a message: whether two wheels or four, you are a vehicle and are stuck with the same laws. That’s a tough message to ignore if we want to maintain our rights to the road. Your thoughts, as always, are greatly appreciated. Hit us up in the comment box and tell us what you think.