Well folks, Dan Laurence responded to my previous blog post. Admittedly, I’m surprised that he agrees: The possible new law allowing cyclists to simply yield at stop signs is a bad idea. Here’s what he says:
People for the “Idaho stop” law tend to focus on the personal convenience (personal rights!) and not the epidemiological consequences (social Responsibilities!). Allowing cyclists to not stop is one more variable thrown into the set of expectations for predicting behavior of other vehicles on the road.
I actually believe that laws that treat cyclists differently from motor vehicles are, on balance, dangerous for cyclists, because they vacate commonly appreciated expectations for road behavior. To be safe, a driver needs to not only obey the law, but be able to predict what other road users are likely to do. confusion in that regard decreases safety. at least some driver’s won’t know the new law, or will be angry about it and ignore it out of spite. Moreover, the “Idaho stop” law would lead to complacency among cyclists. the increase in convenience promised by an “IDAHO STOP” comes with increased risk of collisions with motor vehicles and pedestrians.
True, compared to motor vehicles, cyclists go relatively slowly and have unobstructed vision. They are usually capable of appreciating cross-traffic risk so long as they come to a “rolling stop”. Moreover, they feel the pressure of holding back traffic behind them. Asking cyclists to signed intersections with no traffic seems ridiculous to cyclists much of the time. But the real problem is cyclists who will use the law as a reason not to bother to slow down, or develop a bad habit of thinking “this intersection never has cross traffic, so why bother to slow down?”, or who ignore the fact that cars may not see them on approach to the intersection. [Emphasis added.] This is especially true among cyclists in dark clothing without lights who ride in twilight, on gloomy days, or at night; something i see (unfortunately) all the time. There is also the problem of the car on the opposing side ready to turn left that fails to signal, or signals but thinks the cyclist will yield, and will turn left in front of the cyclist.
I’m sure I could go on, but Catherine, as much as I don’t like stopping unnecessarily, I agree with you. As a cyclist, I think that if I run a stop sign, the risk should fall squarely on me.
Let’s not pass this law. #ItSoundsLikeABadIdea given that few cyclists are getting tickets for running stop signs, i question the need for the change in law. Better simply to treat the issue similarly to the way Seattle treats marijuana usage: a very low priority enforced only when someone is behaving recklessly.