Government Law

Bicyclists could roll through stop signs legally under proposed San Francisco law

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Generally, the same rules of the road apply to those behind the wheel of a motor vehicle and those pedaling a bicycle.

But a small—and possibly growing—number of jurisdictions allow bicyclists to roll through stop signs, as long as they yield to cross traffic with the right of way, reports the New York Times (reg. req.).

Already commonplace, albeit illegal, throughout the country, such “Idaho stops” are so named because Idaho was the first state to make them legal, in 1982. The Times says that some Colorado counties also have such laws. Now San Francisco is considering similar legislation. It would, however, still require bicyclists to stop at red traffic lights.

If enacted, the law would make San Francisco the largest municipality in the U.S. to allow bicyclists to make rolling stops at stop signs, the newspaper says.

Proponents say reasonable rolling stops are not a safety risk and can even enhance safety by not blocking traffic, the San Francisco Chronicle reported last month.

“If the cyclist is blowing through the intersection and not entering slowly and cautiously, they absolutely should get a ticket,” said Scott Weiner, a Democrat and former deputy city attorney who is one of the city supervisors sponsoring the proposed law. “But when you look at what is causing injury and death on our streets, it’s not a cyclist entering an intersection at a few miles an hour.”

However, Mayor Ed Lee, a Democrat who earned a law degree at the University of California-Berkeley, has threatened to veto.

“I’m not willing to trade away safety for convenience, and any new law that reaches my desk has to enhance public safety, not create potential conflicts that can harm our residents,” he told the Chronicle.

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