Ever hear of the “Idaho Stop?” If you’re an avid bicyclist in Portland, the term may ring a bell. Bicycle safety advocates have been pushing it for the past 15 years.
If you’re not familiar with the term, it allows bicyclists to treat stop signs and red lights as yield signs, and may soon become the law in Oregon. The bill was initially sponsored by State Rep. Barbara Smith Warner in order to address bicycle usability and safety concerns associated with frequent stopping and starting.
The bill recently passed the state legislature and is now awaiting signature from Governor Kate Brown. If signed into law, Oregon will become the fourth state to legalize the Idaho Stop, along with Idaho, Delaware, and Arkansas.
Bicycle safety advocates point to the 14 percent drop in bicyclist injuries in Idaho after implementing the Idaho Stop in 1982. Additional research concluded that cities throughout Idaho are 30 percent safer for bicyclists in comparison to most other cities.
The Idaho Stop explained
Historically, bicyclists in Oregon were required to follow the same traffic guidelines as motorists – coming to a complete stop at red lights and stop signs and waiting until they are legally allowed to proceed.
The Idaho Stop simply allows bicyclists to slow down when approaching an intersection and proceed if there is no traffic crossing. Bicyclists would only be required to stop and yield when vehicles or other bicyclists are approaching an intersection.
In a YouTube video, videographer Spencer Boomhower explains that allowing bicyclists to preserve their momentum may mean fewer risks for them at intersections.
A step in the right direction
If the Idaho Stop is signed into law in Oregon, it will be a major milestone for bicycle safety, but more needs to done to protect bicyclists.
First, drivers must acknowledge that bicyclists have just as much right to access the roadways as they do. Oregon law classifies bicycles as vehicles. Thus, bicyclists are allowed to ride with the rest of traffic, as long as they remain on the right side of the road.
Whether you’re a bicyclist or motorist, it’s best to refer to the 2016-2017 Oregon Bicyclist Manual in order to better understand the state laws pertianing to bicycles.
Most importantly, drivers have a duty to keep their attention on the road and watch out for bicyclists, pedestrians, and motorcyclists.
We proudly serve injured bicyclists throughout the greater Portland area. Contact us today to set up your free case evaluation.