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Stop or yield? Idea of 'Idaho Stop' may be gaining momentum in B.C.

Last Updated Apr 9, 2019 at 8:28 am PDT

(iStock Photo)

The 'Idaho stop' has improved safety, flow when adopted elsewhere; the idea is now gaining momentum in B.C.

Since 1982, Idaho cyclists have been able to roll through a stop sign, legally

According to the BCCC, cycling collisions dropped by 14 per cent the year after the Idaho stop was adopted in that state

VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) – The next time you’re at an intersection, watch how many rolling stops there are.

In some jurisdictions, cyclists are legally allowed treat stop sings as yield signs, and it turns out the idea is gaining momentum.

First introduced in 1982, it’s called the Idaho stop after the state that first adopted it. The following year, cycling collisions there dropped by 14 per cent.

“It’s where at a stop sign a cyclist doesn’t have to come to a complete stop and instead is still required to yield. But if there’s no one else there at the intersection, they aren’t required to come to a complete stop,” explains Richard Campbell, the executive director of the B.C. Cycling Coalition.

Ongoing work has found that cycling in Idaho cities is “significantly safer” than in other cities, Campbell says. However, he adds it’s hard to say how much of that is related to the Idaho stop.

With more bicycles and e-bikes on the road every day, its something Campbell wants the B.C. government to take a good look at.

“It’s something that does come up, and it’s certainly not the thing that’s on top of what we’re asking the government to do,” Campbell says, adding there are a number of other initiatives that are more of a priority.

Montreal has a modified version allowing cyclists to yield at stop signs but not red lights. Meantime, Calgary is looking at adopting the Idaho stop.

On concerns related to the Idaho stop, Campbell believes there are some misconceptions.

“There’s still the requirement to yield,” he tells NEWS 1130. “[Drivers] may see people going through an intersection without yielding at all, which is not safe or legal — nor would it be legal under the Idaho stop — this would be simply what’s common practice. It would not have a negative impact on anyone, really.”

He admits Idaho stops may even, in some cases, help drivers get through an intersection with stop signs a little quicker.

“It’s really a win-win, and the evidence from Idaho is that actually makes cycling a bit safer. There’s no evidence that it’s more dangerous. I’m not quite sure once people really know what’s involved why they particularly would not be happy with it.”

One study out of Chicago showed that 96 per cent of cyclists don’t come to a complete stop, anyways.

While the topic is something that has been brought up, Campbell says some of the bigger priorities for the B.C. Cycling Coalition include pushing for more investments for protected bike lanes and paths.

Meantime, the province is developing an active transportation strategy and wants to hear what you think.

-With files from John Ackermann