Andy Kerr would like to establish some special rules of the road for bicyclists.
The Lakewood teacher and state senator has introduced a bill that would allow bicyclists to treat stoplights as stop signs. In other words, cyclists could pull up to a red light, check in all directions, and proceed when it’s clear rather than waiting for the green signal.
Bicyclists also would be allowed to roll through stop signs, no stopping required, as long as it’s safe to proceed and the cyclist “yields to vehicles and pedestrians.” The bill would also apply to electric-assisted bikes.
Currently, bicyclists in Colorado are generally subject to the same traffic laws and punishments as drivers at signals and stops.
The general argument for the proposed new protocol, known as the “Idaho stop,” is that it allows bicyclists to conserve momentum and potentially avoid the awkward struggle to regain speed near clusters of cars and trucks at stops and signals.
Moreover, cyclists say that people are doing it anyway, so you might as well legalize it. In fact, a recent study by DePaul University found that only 4 percent of cyclists fully stop at stop signs, and only a third stop at traffic signals when there’s no cross traffic, as The Chicago Tribune reported.
This type of maneuver is commonly called an “Idaho stop” because it was legalized in the 1980s in Idaho. That’s the only state where it’s fully legal, as far as I can tell, but Summit County and the Colorado municipalities of Aspen, Dillon and Breckenridge all have created similar new rules for cyclists since 2010.
Research by the city of Fort Collins found no reports of increased crashes in any of those parts of Colorado. On the converse, author Ben Adler argued for Grist that the change could lead cyclists to cut off pedestrians in crosswalks.
Kerr’s bill was introduced on Jan. 18, and there had been no votes on it as of Jan. 24.