Saturday, March 12, 2011

How to Legally Roll Through a Stop Sign

photo courtesy of thecrazyfilmgirl on Flickr
The answer: You must live in Idaho. Or possibly New Mexico.

On Tuesday, New Mexico's House passed a bill that would allow cyclists to treat stop signs as yield signs, almost 30 years after cyclists in Idaho won the privilege. The Santa Fe New Mexican reports that the bill's sponsor, Rep. Miguel Garcia, said once Idaho passed their bike law, the bicycle injury rate fell 15 percent. He also argued that passing such a law would help to prevent cyclists from getting rear-ended at stop signs. (A problem I have never heard much about.)

Cyclists argue in favor of the law for several reasons, including that we have better awareness of our surroundings and can stop faster than vehicles. Other cyclists argue that the law establishes cyclists as something "other" than drivers and might set a precedent to limit cyclists' road use privileges.  And that it's good for everyone on the road to be predictable.

In the meantime, New Mexican cyclists shouldn't party yet; Oregon's House passed a similar bill in 2003 that their Senate killed. Oregon's Bicycle Transportation Alliance tried again in 2009, to no avail. According to the now defunct cycling advocacy nonprofit, the Bicycle Civil Liberties Union, cyclists in California, Oregon, Arizona and Virginia have all tried to pass a similar law.

As someone who has received a $150ish ticket for rolling a T-stop on a rural road with nobody around except a cop who apparently liked to spend his Saturday mornings hiding in a bush, I'm all for the stop-as-yield law. And if you have the tenacity and connections to get it passed in CA, I'll buy you a beer. Or 20.

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