Delaware Poised to Legalize Idaho Stop

Photo:  Bike Delaware
Photo: Bike Delaware

Delaware Governor John Carney is expected to sign a package of bike safety bills in October that will make the First State’s legal protections for cyclists among the best in the nation.

Perhaps the most exciting of the reforms: Bicyclists would be allowed to treat stop signs as yields. That will make Delaware only the second state to legalize the Idaho Stop.

Despite a long history in Idaho, with solid safety outcomes, no other state in the nation allows cyclists to treat stop signs as yields, or red lights as stop signs. Delaware’s legislation will only apply to stop signs, and moreover, only on roads with two lanes or fewer. Bicyclists will still be required to wait at red lights. This short video, by Spencer Boomhower, is probably the best explanation for why the Idaho Stop is practical and beneficial for people on bikes.

The law will offer other benefits. It will require motorists to change lanes when passing cyclists on roads with two lanes in the same direction, or even if there are fewer lanes if there isn’t enough room to give safe distance. Otherwise drivers are required to slow down and pass with no fewer than three feet of clearance.

The law will also clarify where cyclists should ride in the roadway, in an effort to protect them from bogus tickets for not hugging the curb. It would legally prohibit motorists from honking when passing a cyclist. It would also allow Delaware DOT to operate bike-specific traffic signals.

Bike Delaware reports that the law passed with with overwhelming bipartisan support (refreshing!). Carney is expected to sign it October 5.

18 thoughts on Delaware Poised to Legalize Idaho Stop

  1. As it happens, I spent this past weekend in Boise. Took advantage of their bike-share system, and I felt all warm and fuzzy every time I got to make an Idaho stop.

  2. Delaware’s legislation will only apply to stop signs…

    I’m pretty sure that the original Idaho legislation also only applied to stop signs and was later expanded to include the stop light provision that it now has.

  3. If your traffic control strategies are so overboard that you think you need an Idaho Stop law, the correct fix is to go back and check every stop sign and see if it’s warranted in the first place. Even the USDOT’s MUTCD recommends yield signs over stop signs for most applications.

  4. I wonder how many other states will enact this before California joins. It is rather disheartening to live in such a backward state.

  5. “It would legally prohibit motorists from honking when passing a cyclist.”

    If they passed this and enforced it in Illinois, the state’s debt would be wiped out in a matter of months.

  6. Upvote because San Francisco has way too many stop signs, but the Idaho Stop law makes impeccable sense nonetheless.

  7. My experience of riding in Fremont California was that a significant percentage of drivers would swerve into the bike lane immediately after passing–just, I suppose, to make it plaiin that they held my life lightly in their hands. I’d make that a ticketable offense.

    ps–all traffic fines should be graduated according to net worth like they do in Denmark.

  8. The law to which you are referring mandates that drivers maintain a three foot separation with bicycles. (Not called diamond lanes, incidentally.)

    Good point that current law forbids drivers to enter bike lanes unless making a legal right turn, etc., but what I was trying to describe actually didn’t necessarily require the driver to actually enter the bike lane in order to express a threat; for them merely to precipitously swerve toward the bike lane had an effect.

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