Should Cyclists Be Allowed To Roll Through Stop Signs If The Coast Is Clear?

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Photo: Denver bicycle club ride, stoplight (Minor)
Cyclists at a stoplight in Denver.

When cyclists come to a stop sign, they have to stop. At red lights, they have to wait until the light turns green, and then go -- just like a car. But in Colorado, that could change under a bill in the legislature. It would allow cyclists to do what's widely known as the Idaho Stop -- roll through intersections with stop signs if the coast is clear, or stop first if it's a red light. The Idaho Stop got its name because the Idaho Legislature voted in 1982 to let cyclists ride through stop signs and red lights when it's safe to do so.

We put a call out on Facebook for people's thoughts about this, heard strong reactions in favor and against, and invited Piep van Heuven with Bicycle Colorado to tell us why she thinks it took Colorado 36 years to decide the Idaho Stop, or what she calls the “Colorado Safety Stop” might be a good idea. She also addressed some of the questions and concerns raised in response to our Facebook video.

We’ve posted a few Facebook comments below. Click on the audio to hear the full conversation.

David Wright: If cyclists want themselves to have the same right of way as cars and trucks then yes they should have to stop at all stop signs.

Andrew Goetz: Why bother legalizing it. It's what bicyclists do. Police rarely if ever enforce traffic laws for bicyclists. Laws are for cars.

Layla Aronow: As a driver, I want them to obey the same laws we do. I have anxiety because countless times a cyclist road up beside me and got in my way while I was clearing an intersection to turn. Cyclists need to be ticketed for not obeying, and need to be safely apart of the road traffic. My car will win in a collision every single time, and if I can't see you or you're unpredictable as a cyclist, you're putting your life at jeopardy.

Tamara Fox: I vote no. I already have to watch for cyclists breezing thru intersections when I have the green light. I’ve even had one do so while driving into oncoming traffic. Bicyclists should follow traffic rules when in the street, pedestrian rules when on sidewalks.

Michael Thrash: As a cyclist, no. What makes the roads safe is everyone following the same rules; in one word predictably. If you allow an element of unpredictably on the roads you have allowed an element of danger.

Maria Arno Sorensen: Not forcing bikes to stop at every stop sign helps the flow of traffic. Have you ever been stuck behind a bike in cap hill that full stops at every intersection? It’s awful. Keep momentum going and we will all move faster.

Devin Quince: Drivers cannot have it both ways regarding us on the street. I get yelled at least twice a week by drivers because I stop at signs and do a legal, foot down stop because it cost them maybe 10 secs and then I get yelled at because they want us to follow the laws. Here is what happens when all cyclists do legal stops.