Read all about Richmond Regional Ride Center.

The Idaho Stop: What Do You Think?

Watch the video, and leave a comment below.

Related Articles:

23 comments… add one

  • Only makes sense!

  • The Idaho stop represents an interesting balancing of competing issues and illustrates that even simple matters (like stopping) aren’t necessarily all that simple. Having not seen a cogent legal definition, I’d think that enforcement could be very difficult.
    Law-abiding riders could take positive advantage of the Idaho stop, but scofflaws will make a mockery of it. That’s probably true of many laws, so it’s no reason to toss it out, but it does give pause … no pun intended.
    Unless someone provides a compelling argument against the Idaho stop, I could support adding it to VA law but would not prioritize it above larger issues like “due care” or 3′ passing.

  • I have been riding the Idaho stop pretty much my entire cycling life, even when I was a kid growing up in northside Richmond. The advantage of being on a bicycle is basically unlimited visibility, no roof or door post that can obstruct visibility as in a vehicle. Also you can hear oncoming traffic on a bicycle. At most intersections it is easy to see if any traffic or pedistrians are going to cause a conflict well before you get to the intersection. I’m all for it!

  • I think that a main component of these laws is the raise in fined to dissuade unsafe riders from taking advantage of it. I would love to see these laws in Virginia.

  • I think the Idaho Stop would bring the law into what is really happening on the street. Riders would street a stop sign as a yield sign. Its good for the bicyclists and brings no harm to vehicles.

  • Having worked with many new riders, I’ve observed the greatest likelihood of an accident with newbies occur when riders are stopping and starting. This seems to be the result of three things:

    1) without the gyroscopic stability inherent in a spinning wheel, riders will wobble and fall, especially when starting;

    2) forgetting to down shift in anticipation of the stop which forces riders to try and re-start in too high a gear;

    3) forgetting to release from cleats or toe clips, and falling over (“turtling”).

    Though the Idaho stop is controversial despite being adopted in that state 1982,if used properly by cyclists (and enforced for those blowing through stop signs at speed), I think the rolling stop really adds a degree of safety on the road.

  • I’ve done this for years. I’ve been hit twice in my 12 years of riding for transportation, both times I was going through a green light.

  • This is the argument I’ve been making for years and I thank God someone has finally made an easy to understand animation of it. Coming to a full stop at every block renders cycling an entirely impractical alternative to cars.

  • this is what i do any ways and cops have seen me and even waved me through in front of them. but it would be nice for it to actually be legal.

  • If a state has right on red, it needs to have the Idaho Stop Law too. On those occasions when I have tried to act like a law abiding cyclists and remain stopped at a red light, I have frustrated drivers behind me who want to turn right. One cabbie was so impatient he nearly ran over a group of pedestrians once the light turned green. If a cop is at the intersection I Idaho Stop regularly–I have never been ticketed or warned. The cops know what safe cycling looks like. It is time to put it on the books.

  • I support the Idaho Stop Law. I recognize the difficulty of distinguishing between a rolling stop and a “blow-through” stop, but I think the difference is in thinking about a stop sign as a yield sign, rather than the stop sign becoming irrelevant under such a law. If a car/bike/pedestrian has the right to cross because its their turn, the bicyclist should yield, and yes, stop if need be. If there are no such vehicles/people to determine who should go first, a rolling stop is entirely justified to me. There WOULD a grey area between slightly slowing and busting through at top speed, but it could come down to, “was traffic disrupted or endangered due to the bicyclists movement (rolling or speeding)?” I don’t agree with the agro-cyclist who blows through an intersection at top speed (whether there is a car/bike waiting to cross or not), either thinking they’re yielding because they tapped the brakes or that stop signs/lights don’t apply to them. To “them” I say, “Yes, you are a vehicle on the road, sharing right-of-way with other vehicles and people and you have a responsibility to give-way when necessary!”

  • The Idaho Stop for stop signs (treat Stop as Yield) was invented in order to obtain an enforceable law. Traffic officials in Idaho found that enforcing Stop signs as usual did not affect cyclist behavior at all–it just raised money and made everyone angry. The Idaho Stop is enforceable in a way that will educate cyclists on the need to respect right of way. I totally support a change of law and accompanying training and enforcement campaigns (esp training for police officers).

    The stop-light version of the Idaho Stop (proceed on red after a full stop) was created to solve the problem of having to retrofit all stoplights to recognize bicycles. This was a smart way to save money, but I have a mixed view of it. I would support it but would still ask the Commonwealth to identify and fix problem intersections so that they can recognize bicycles.

    BTW, there is a commonly-used symbol to indicate correct bicycle position to trigger a light. It is a small bicycle symbol with a line ahead and behind it–the lines indicate where to position your wheels. I have seen this misused in Alexandria as an extra-small bike symbol (near Jaimeson and West Streets; the symbols indicate the bike route through a gated intersection).

  • I support the Idaho stop, and efforts to legitimize this style of writing in the legal code of all jurisdictions. The old “follow the same laws as cars” has never felt particularly safe or practical to me, I’m much more comfortable using Idaho rules.

  • Bring it to VA so leaders across the river in DC can see that it’s a GOOD THING.

  • As a practical matter, an Idaho Stop bill–which no other state has enacted in 30 years–has zero chance of passing in Virginia and would seriously undermine the prospects for enacting basic bicyclist protections–such as motorist due care, not following or passing a bicyclist too closely, and liability for dooring–that VBF has pursued for years.

    In addition, an Idaho Stop law could have multiple unintended adverse consequences related to enforcement, scofflaw bicycling, child bicyclist education, contributory negligence, applicability to motorized devices, and the stopping behavior of motorists.

    That said, Virginia’s current stop sign law [ http://leg1.state.va.us/cgi-bin/legp504.exe?000+cod+46.2-821 ]
    should be amended to clarify that it is not a violation per se if a bicyclist does not put a foot down on the ground immediately before entering an intersection controlled by a stop sign.

  • I agree with Allen Muchnick’s comments and caveats as stared below:

    Allen Muchnick September 24, 2012 at 2:48 pm
    As a practical matter, an Idaho Stop bill–which no other state has enacted in 30 years–has zero chance of passing in Virginia and would seriously undermine the prospects for enacting basic bicyclist protections–such as motorist due care, not following or passing a bicyclist too closely, and liability for dooring–that VBF has pursued for years.

    In addition, an Idaho Stop law could have multiple unintended adverse consequences related to enforcement, scofflaw bicycling, child bicyclist education, contributory negligence, applicAllen Muchnick September 24, 2012 at 2:48 pm
    As a practical matter, an Idaho Stop bill–which no other state has enacted in 30 years–has zero chance of passing in Virginia and would seriously undermine the prospects for enacting basic bicyclist protections–such as motorist due care, not following or passing a bicyclist too closely, and liability for dooring–that VBF has pursued for years.

    In addition, an Idaho Stop law could have multiple unintended adverse consequences related to enforcement, scofflaw bicycling, child bicyclist education, contributory negligence, applicability to motorized devices, and the stopping behavior of motorists.

    That said, Virginia’s current stop sign law [ http://leg1.state.va.us/cgi-bin/legp504.exe?000+cod+46.2-821 ]
    should be amended to clarify that it is not a violation per se if a bicyclist does not put a foot down on the ground immediately before entering an intersection controlled by a stop sign.

    ability to motorized devices, and the stopping behavior of motorists.

    That said, Virginia’s current stop sign law [ http://leg1.state.va.us/cgi-bin/legp504.exe?000+cod+46.2-821 ]
    should be amended to clarify that it is not a violation per se if a bicyclist does not put a foot down on the ground immediately before entering an intersection controlled by a stop sign.

  • Never. Ever.

    This isn’t Idaho. It’s a densely populated urban/suburban environment.

    If cyclists like me (and I don’t drive, never have and never will) expect and demand equal rights to the road, then we can assume equal responsibility for obeying the basic rules of the road. Stopping at a stop or red light isn’t rocket science. Nor is getting hit by a cycist as a fellow cyclist or pedestrian just a “who cares” results of cyclists who think they are someone special.

    We don’t need anymore entitled roadusers. We need equal enforcement of road safety laws for all.

    Grow up and OBEY THE LAW.

  • “Idaho stop sign”. That’s how I ride. Yield the right of way as appropriate. Safe and efficient. Motorists do it all the time. They just don’t realize that going 5 mph through a stop sign isn’t “stopping”

  • An excellent idea and common sense.

  • It makes a lot of sense, and would further promote cycling as a viable commuting alternative to cars. The argument that an Idaho stop is unenforceable seems weak. Police officers are quite capable of enforcing yield signs for traffic now, I am not sure how this would change when stop signs become yield signs for cyclists.

  • For background on this law, please see http://www.bicyclelaw.com/blog/index.cfm/2009/3/7/Origins-of-Idahos-Stop-as-Yield-Law . It is worth noting that one motivation for changing the law was that previous stop-sign enforcement campaigns were ineffectual (in Idaho, minor traffic violations were handled in such a way that the courts were filled with people ticketed for rolling stops).

    The reason I bring this up is that there are useful legal and public safety issues here–it is not just a matter of preserving momentum. Enforcement of the Idaho Stop would curtail actual dangerous violations of right-of-way rules. I favor the Idaho Stop, but I think the video posted above is not the best way to promote it.

  • Allen is right that it will not pass here. Allen is wrong that it would undermine the effort to get other pro-bike bills passed, as those also will not pass here, Idaho stop or no. You can’t undermine something that really isn’t working in the first place.

    The Idaho stop, and other pro-cycling legislation, will only pass when there are enough cyclists on the road. If you want this to happen, encourage folks to cycle. Lobbying the current administration for this is titlting at windmills.

  • Sounds sensible to me — simply formalising the status quo!

Leave a Comment