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Aspen, Colorado, to Vote on “Idaho Stop”

11:10 AM EST on February 7, 2013

Almost exactly 30 years ago, the state of Idaho enacted a traffic rule that would come to be known nationally as the "Idaho Stop," allowing cyclists to treat stop signs like yield signs. In three decades as the law of the land, the Idaho Stop has a fine safety record.

While the same rule has been debated and proposed in countless other places, it has been slow to spread. That could change, though, in Aspen, Colorado, which is preparing for a vote on the issue, reports Hunter Montgomery at Network blog Living in the Bike Lane:

The Aspen Times reports that city officials have determined that it is safer for bicycle riders to reduce speed, look left and right, and roll through an intersection with improved safety outcomes. They cite two main reasons. Firstly, the inertia of a bicycle requires greater effort and control to bring to a complete stop – possibly leading to a loss of control. Secondly, a bicycle approaching a STOP sign creates anxiety in motorists as they are not always certain how the rider will behave.

Idaho implemented this STOP-as-Yield law 30 years ago and at least one (1) study determined that it has resulted in improved safety outcomes for bicycle riders and pedestrians. With motorists and cyclists fully aware of the requirements in Idaho, few can argue that this change has been anything but hugely successful.

The Aspen City outcome is keenly anticipated for many reasons. Not least of which is that motorists observe bicycle riders roll through STOP signs 90% of the time anyway. Plus, the law as it applies to bicycles is simply not enforced by the police; with no tickets issued for these moving violations.

Elsewhere on the Network today: The Fort Wayne Downtown Insider Blog reports that this Indiana city is preparing to double parking rates, and consider a broad range of modest reforms. Human Transit says we should all stop using the term "congestion pricing" because it sounds so punitive. And Stop and Move writes that officials in Fresno, California, are planning to remove a pedestrian mall to make way for drivers.

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