Posts Tagged ‘Idaho’

Rolling Stops for Bicycles

Thursday, April 30th, 2009

Bicyclists in Idaho have enjoyed a law that other states are now trying to adopt.

In Idaho, bicyclists can legally treat stop signs as yields under many conditions when it won’t adversely affect others, including pedestrians.

The benefit for bicyclists is threefold:

  • It conserves momentum, making bicycling easier
  • It conserves time, making bicycling quicker and more convenient
  • It adopts the common existing practice, making bicyclists more law abiding

Bicycle advocates in Oregon recently tried to get the same law in their state. Spencer Boomhower made a great animation that explains the proposed law.

Bicycles, Rolling Stops, and the Idaho Stop from Spencer Boomhower on Vimeo.

Unfortunately the effort was for naught. The bill died in the Oregon House.

Could we get this law in Michigan?

It would be an extremely valuable law change for those living in older communities that improperly use stop signs as neighborhood traffic calming. It would be equally valuable in Detroit where traffic levels have dropped dramatically since the 1950s yet the old traffic control devices remain in place.

Unfortunately there are obstacles.


Sign photo from BikeJax

In speaking with the League of Michgian Bicyclist staff, they don’t see this as a priority.

And, since this Idaho law is not in the Uniform Vehicle Code (upon which most states based their road laws), it would take considerable effort to get this passed in Lansing much less supported by the Michigan State Police.

One alternative idea is to post some signs along popular or designated bike routes with modified stop signs. This modification could indicate bicyclists would only need to yield whereas others must stop. It’s unclear how easy this alternative signage would be to implement. Regulatory signage has to be in the Michigan Manual on Traffic Control Devices before it can be installed on a road. The bike yield sign shown on the right is not in our Manual.

Piloting this short term signage solution may provide enough data to justify changing the law.

So there are no easy answers, but they’re rarely are. We need to continue to push for changes that making bicycling an easier, safer, and more convenient mode choice in Michigan.