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Idaho Stop

Group for support of implementing the "Idaho Stop" in Chicago, allowing cyclists to treat Stop signs as Yield.

Members: 53
Latest Activity: Oct 22


Discussion: Idaho’s stop-as-yield statute ...
"For 26 years, cyclists in Idaho have rolled through stop signs—legally."

Discussion: Should bikers follow traffic laws?

Discussion: Are you a vehicular cyclist or a facilitator?

Offsite Blog: "A Better Approach For Illinois Bicyclists: Our Own Private Idaho"

Discussion Forum

Opposition to a change in the law 6 Replies

You can get the law changed and it's going to really make you feel good about what you've accomplished but the result will be you will piss of the motorists, those other users of the street that can…Continue

Started by Bob Kastigar. Last reply by Yasmeen Oct 22.

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Comment by Scott Stelzer on October 22, 2015 at 4:28pm

Yep, I agree completely. I always do option B in a case like that. There is no question of priority there since I'm IN the intersection before the driver arrives at it.

If you go with option A, the driver probably assumes that you are a very slow cyclist who will take forever to get going, and that you might even be giving up your right of way to them voluntarily. 

Even when driving a car in Chicago, coming to a COMPLETE (not rolling) stop at a 4-way usually seems to be an invitation for someone else to steal your priority.

Comment by Eli on October 22, 2015 at 4:17pm

It also seems that many cyclists here in Chicago take the right of way when they don't have it.

Yes, this is definitely true and lamentable. I don't really see the Idaho Stop having much effect on this one way or the other.

The scenario I was thinking of was this: I reach the four-way stop first. A car is approaching from mid-block on the side street. I have two options:

(a) In accordance with the letter of the law, I can come to a complete stop, with a foot down. Then I can start accelerating. Because I am slower than the car (especially off a complete stop), it has likely arrived at the intersection by this point. In my experience, a driver that has seen me stop will almost never yield--even if they saw me stop when they were still mid-block. They will gun it through the intersection because they don't want to get "stuck" waiting for me to accelerate through the intersection from a full stop, even though I was there first. Often they will misjudge my speed and gun it through when I'm already well into the intersection, causing a close call.

(b) I can do a slow "rolling stop." By the time the car reaches the intersection I am already most of the way through and the driver will stop and then proceed normally because s/he isn't panicking at the thought of being "stuck waiting for a bike."

Option (b) is the behavior that the Idaho Stop law would legalize, and which I think would make everyone safer.

Comment by Scott Stelzer on October 22, 2015 at 3:36pm

I lived in the SF Bay Area which is the subject of the article, from '99 until I moved here in 2010.

It wasn't until I came here that I started seeing drivers stop when they had the right of way and wave me through, or stop and stay stopped and look at me for a few moments before they continued with their right of way (totally upsetting my timing for performing an Idaho stop because I have to come to a complete stop with a foot down to assure the driver it is safe to proceed). It seems many drivers here just don't understand right of way with cyclists for some reason.

It also seems that many cyclists here in Chicago take the right of way when they don't have it. In spite of the problems the article cites with cyclists in SF, stealing the right-of-way in intersections is generally not a problem there. I suppose in Chicago it's a chicken-and-egg problem, where drivers are clueless and cyclists are more aggressive.

Anyway, Skip, you're right that the Idaho Stop law should not change right-of-way laws and is not intended to. I cycle here like I cycled there -- I perform Idaho stops and never take someone else's right of way. I'm in favor of legalizing the Idaho Stop but a little concerned that drivers will misunderstand the new law when they tread about it in the Trib/online and create ever more chaos as they think "gee, there really IS a different set of rules for bikes at intersections!"

Comment by Skip Montanaro 12mi on October 22, 2015 at 2:45pm

I suspect people might have misunderstood what I wrote or what caught my attention in the quoted passage. Let's set the stage: four-way stop on Wells in Old Town. Cars are present at the intersection coming from multiple directions. I come to a stop in the bike lane. Bike behind me goes around me to my right (or squeezes between me and the stopped car on my left) and blows through the intersection, stealing the right-of-way from some pedestrian or car on the cross street. I see this sort of behavior frequently.

Now, let's think about how that situation would change in the face of an Idaho Stop. I'll put on my best Winnie-the-Pooh "think, think, think" face for a few seconds... You know what? I don't think anything changes. There was something at the intersection which made me stop in the absence of an Idaho Stop law. It's highly likely (knowing myself as well as I do) that I will stop under those same circumstances after a hypothetical Idaho Stop law is on the books.

Such a law does not absolve me from my responsibility to yield the right-of-way to other actors in the scene. (And if you think about it, many vehicle code laws on the books today are meant to clarify who has the right-of-way, to reduce confusion.) I don't care what people do when nobody else is at the intersection. There is nobody there from whom the right-of-way could be taken. It's the case where there are screaming loud clues (bikes and cars stopped or stopping at the intersection) that a cyclist needs to stop -- but they don't -- that an Idaho Stop law won't change. That's why I quoted the passage I did. There are clearly more than the occasional cases where people ignore the concept of right-of-way today. Adding an Idaho Stop law won't make those people start respecting other peoples' r-o-w. The author of that article seemed to think that an Idaho Stop law will fix this problem. I'm highly skeptical.

Comment by Madopal (16.5 mi) on October 22, 2015 at 1:23pm

Also, here's the thing with bikes vs. cars stopping: time to get back going. Assume a cyclist/car is stopped at a stop sign, and that another cyclist is coming up behind them. If the cyclist is paying attention, and the timing works out, then it's possible for the cyclist, acting as a yield, to take the window that is opening up to go. The cyclist or driver has to proceed through, and if the cyclist slowing down matches, they can both go through in the same window, not disrupting the cadence of the stops for both directions.

Now, take the other is stopped and a cyclist comes up behind. They always stop, and the person waiting for the other direction watches. It's clearly their right of way, but they assume -- right or wrong -- that that other cyclist can/will go. They wait, the cyclist waits, and they both sit there looking at each other.

That's what the Idaho stop avoids. The cyclists treat it as a yield, so if they have a window they take it, and if they have to yield, they yield. That assumes a lot about the attention of the cyclist, and many cyclists *do* just go to pretend they looked when it's clearly not their turn.

Not sure either is better from a problem solving perspective, but if everyone understood the rules (and that's a whole other problem that we could get started on), the system would work.

Comment by Eli on October 22, 2015 at 1:05pm

Skip, it goes both ways. It's extremely rare--like, I'm not sure that it's ever happened in the city--that a driver who arrives at a 4-way stop after me will wait for me. Drivers seem to assume that because they can get through the intersection faster they should go first, period.

Comment by Skip Montanaro 12mi on October 22, 2015 at 12:03pm

I just learned about the existence of this group, and while reading through the previous comments, came on the article from 2014 which Andrew Bedno outed back then. Reading it, I was struck by this comment:

An Idaho stop would put an end to this madness: the first vehicle to come to the intersection always has the right of way, giving bikers a rule they'd actually follow, making them more predictable for drivers.

The problem is the "... giving bikers a rule they'd actually follow ..." bit. Right of way is still right of way, even without the Idaho Stop. It bothers me the number of cyclists I see who completely disregard right of way when they approach intersections. If I'm on a bike and stopped ahead of you (or there are cars which have already stopped), zipping around me on my right and blowing through the intersection isn't a wise choice. I stopped for a reason.

Unfortunately, I don't think an Idaho Stop law is going to solve this problem. We'll have to come up with something else. I appears that Darwinian selection isn't doing a good enough job here...

Comment by Andrew Bedno on October 21, 2015 at 12:36am

"San Francisco May Let Bicyclists Yield at Stop Signs"

Comment by Bill P on August 10, 2015 at 8:42pm
Comment by Madopal (16.5 mi) on August 3, 2015 at 1:37pm

Results of the stop sign protest went exactly as expected.


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