Please do not adopt the ordinance allowing Idaho Stop in San Francisco

To Mayor Lee, President Breed and Supervisors:

Please do not adopt the ordinance proposed by Supervisor Avalos to make citations for bicyclists who don’t stop at stop signs the lowest law enforcement priority and to permit bicyclists not to stop at stop signs if the intersection is empty.

If this legislation becomes law bicyclists may go through intersections without stopping when they determine that there is no ‘immediate hazard. This proposed legislation may lead to increased crashes because many bicyclists, especially our young riders, will misunderstand the law and blast through stop signs with tragic results.

The extent that stopping is a burden to cyclists is up to the individual. As a longtime cyclist I’ve never considered stopping to be a problem. Cyclists who are not fit enough to start and stop multiple times when riding, perhaps shouldn’t be on a pedal-bike?

Here’s a scenario to consider: a cyclist approaches a red light. She stops, looks both ways, and decides to cross or turn left on the red light. Unbeknownst to her, motor traffic on her left or across the intersection has just gotten a green left turn arrow. Conflict (or worse) occurs. She wasn’t aware of that because many such signals are not visible to the cross traffic because there’s no reason for them to be when all traffic is supposed to obey them according to the same black and white rules.  I suppose you could argue that a prudent cyclist would not cross on the red light under the circumstance where there was cross traffic waiting to turn left across her path. But how many of us would make that determination under those circumstances?

My observation of the “judgment” used by many cyclists when choosing to ignore stop signs or red lights is that they often make very poor and dangerous decisions. Making such behavior “legal” won’t reduce the danger to them or others.

Is it REALLY all that onerous to stop at stop signs and red lights?The “Idaho Stop” runs counter to the principles of vehicular cycling and also violates one of the primary elements of traffic safety: predictability.

Please take a moment to view this video and oppose this ordinance that would diminish pedestrian safety and give cyclists special treatment.

Robert
Eastern Neighborhoods United Front (ENUF)

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3 thoughts on “Please do not adopt the ordinance allowing Idaho Stop in San Francisco

  1. Many drivers and cyclists agree. Everyone needs to follow the same rules and conduct predictable behavior. What we have now is a lawless condition where no one knows what to expect from anyone else. There is a lot of animosity because there is a lot of tension on the streets.

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  2. Study after study shows that adopting the Idaho Stop actually decreased accidents and the percentage of accidents compared to places that do not have the Idaho Stop are less. Bicycles are not vehicles and never should have been designated that. They are a separate mode of transportation just like being a pedestrian, skate boarder, wheelchair etc.

    It is not giving bicyclists special treatment, it just makes sense that there should be different rules for a 6000 pound vehicle, a 120 pound pedestrian and a 190 pound person on a 100 pound bicycle.

    Idaho’s rule states: If a cyclist approaches a stop sign, he or she needs to slow down and look for traffic. If there’s already a car or another bike there, then the other vehicle has the right of way. If there’s no traffic, however, the cyclist can slowly proceed. Basically, for bikers, a stop sign is a yield sign.

    If a cyclist approaches a red light, meanwhile, he or she needs to stop fully. Again, if there’s any oncoming traffic, it has the right of way. If there’s not, the cyclist can proceed cautiously through the intersection. Put simply, red light is a stop sign.

    This doesn’t mean that a cyclist is allowed to blast through an intersection. This isn’t allowed in Idaho and is ticket-able.

    This comes from Joseph Stromberg, who says that Science™ is on Idaho’s side:

    If all this sounds far-fetched to you, look at the data. Public health researcher Jason Meggs found that after Idaho started allowing bikers to do this in 1982, injuries resulting from bicycle accidents dropped. When he compared recent census data from Boise to Bakersfield and Sacramento, California — relatively similar-sized cities with comparable percentages of bikers, topographies, precipitation patterns, and street layouts — he found that Boise had 30.5 percent fewer accidents per bike commuter than Sacramento and 150 percent fewer than Bakersfield.

    It all really comes down to educating cyclists, drivers, and pedestrians about the traffic laws. You will always have rule breakers whether they are driving, walking or riding. I see my fair share of drivers running red lights, blowing through stop signs etc. because it is illegal or legal doesn’t stop people from making bad choices.

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  3. Thanks Jamie, for clarifying this for us:

    Idaho’s rule states: If a cyclist approaches a stop sign, he or she needs to slow down and look for traffic. If there’s already a car or another bike there, then the other vehicle has the right of way. If there’s no traffic, however, the cyclist can slowly proceed. Basically, for bikers, a stop sign is a yield sign.

    If a cyclist approaches a red light, meanwhile, he or she needs to stop fully. Again, if there’s any oncoming traffic, it has the right of way. If there’s not, the cyclist can proceed cautiously through the intersection. Put simply, red light is a stop sign.

    This doesn’t mean that a cyclist is allowed to blast through an intersection. This isn’t allowed in Idaho and is ticket-able.

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