- George C. Palaidis
Another State Adds the 'Idaho Stop'
Colorado joined Idaho and Delaware in passing legislation that would allow cyclists the option of making an "Idaho Stop" at intersections. But what's an "Idaho Stop"?
The "Idaho Stop" began, of course, in Idaho in 1982. It allows cyclists at an intersection to treat a stop sign as if it were a yield sign, and as of 2005 a cyclist can treat a red light as if it were a stop sign. Here's a good video
showing how it works:
For about 35 years Idaho was the only state that allowed for the stop, until Delaware made it legal in 2017. The Delaware law doesn't go as far as the amended Idaho law though, in that it only allows cyclists to yield at stop signs, giving it the name of "Delaware Yield."
Colorado has now passed it's own law, adopting the amended version that Idaho has in place. It has also set a maximum rolling stop speed of between 10-20 mph. The law doesn't implement the "Idaho Stop" across the state, but instead allows communities to adopt it if they choose to do so.
Considering that only three states have adopted a version of the "Idaho Stop" since 1982, it goes without saying that not everyone is in favor it. According to the Huffington Post, five states -- California, Minnesota, New York, Oklahoma, and Utah -- have considered a version of the stop in 2018. So far the "Idaho Stop" has been full stop in Florida.
When done properly, the "Idaho Stop" improves safety. As April Nowak explained to Denver7, "Idaho stops allow the cyclist to get ahead of drivers at lights and stop signs which could create distance and actually be a lot safer because other drivers could see the cyclists ahead."
The "Idaho Stop" also helps cyclists with regard to the energy they expend while riding and coming to intersections, as pointed out by Joel Fajans and Melanie Curry in their essay, "Why Bicyclists Hate Stop Signs."
Drivers, many of whom already have a negative view of cyclists, will be sure to bristle at the idea that cyclists can do what they cannot, but with more education and discussion hopefully both sides can come eye-to-eye on this. And hopefully in the near future this movement will gain steam in Florida as well.