Utah Moving Forward on ‘Idaho Stop’ for Cyclists

Photo:  LAbreform
Photo: LAbreform

Utah cyclists will be able to treat stop signs and stop lights like yield signs if a bill making its way through the Statehouse is successful.

The House Transportation Committee recently passed House Bill 161, which would legalize the so-called “Idaho Stop” in the state, by a 10-1 margin.

The sponsor, Democrat Rep. Carol Moss, told the Salt Lake Tribune that the state should trust cyclists’ judgment.

“They know they will be the losers if they take risks with cars,” she said.

Research has shown bicycle injuries dropped 14 percent after Idaho passed its famous stop law in 1982. It allows cyclists proceed through stop signs and red lights if the intersection is clear, and yield to vehicles if it is not. Despite the success of Idaho’s law, no other states have fully followed suit. South Carolina, Utah, Virginia and Wisconsin allow cyclists to move through a red light, but only after waiting a specific amount of time (two minutes in South Carolina’s case!).

And Delaware did pass a law in 2017 that allows cyclists to yield, rather than come to a complete stop, at stop signs.

Supporters of Utah’s HB 161 hope the Idaho Stop will encourage more people to bike, which would also improve the state’s poor air quality. Utah is an idiosyncratic state and has been a leader in sustainable transportation in some respects.

If you need a primer on the benefits of the Idaho Stop, this video is hard to beat.

Correction: The article originally misidentified Rep. Carol Moss’ party affiliation.

120 thoughts on Utah Moving Forward on ‘Idaho Stop’ for Cyclists

  1. Obviously you haven’t ridden bikes in Denver or Boulder, where bikes running red lights and not even slowing down is common, which has caused a number of accidents. Both Denver and Boulder put up with it for maybe a decade or more, but as of August, 2017 Denver no longer ignores bicyclists running red lights or stop signs, Bicycle messengers here used to do it a lot which is where the practice started. Colorado bicycle advocates want to be able to run red lights and stop signs without stopping.

    That is where I am coming from, maybe you didn’t know that.

  2. This is from the Virginia Biking Confederation from 2011:

    Virginia Cyclists Can Now Run Red Lights — After 2 Cycles or 2 Minutes: [Quote] Traffic light sensors may not detect bicycles, making for unreasonably long waits at intersections where few cars show up to trigger the signal. So bicyclists (and motorcyclists) may take it upon themselves to run the red light anyway, which has always been illegal — until now. [End quote]

    That is what Dead Red law covers. It does not allow cyclists riding up to a red light to look both ways at-speed and then run the light without even slowing down, which is what the problem has been here in Colorado.


    Do you support being allowed to run red lights and stop signs without stopping on bicycles as long as traffic is clear or you think you might be able to ride right through a crowd of pedestrians who may not even see you during 4-way crosswalk signals that allow diagonal crossing at downtown intersections?

  3. Wow, another huge response complete with a couple dozen links to FHWA, USDOT, NTSHA, GHSA and League of American Bicyclist bicycle and pedestrian safety policies and laws that included information on both the Idaho stop and Dead Red laws in the few States that have them summarily removed as spam again.

    Yes, Denver did change their previous policy that ignored bicyclists running red lights in the summer of 2016 after too many accidents.

    What, are you afraid of our experience in Denver Frank?

    Busted: Denver Police ticket bicyclists accused of running red lights in Denver, Channel 7 News, Denver, July 27, 2017:


    Denver police clamping down on bike laws, Denver Post:


    Denver Police Cracking Down On Bicyclists Breaking The Law, CBS News Channel 4 Denver, June, 2016:

    DENVER (CBS4) – As Denver continues its efforts to become a more bike-friendly city, there are also laws in place to ensure bicyclists, drivers and pedestrians stay safe. Though many cyclists obey those laws, it’s not difficult to find those who don’t.

    From red light runners to wrong way riders, several bicyclists
    around the metro area can seem oblivious to the rules of the road.

    “You’re the same as a car,” Denver Police Lt. Kevin Edling told CBS4’s Kelly Werthmann. “Think of yourself as a car.”

    Some riders may simply not know they’re supposed to follow similar laws as drivers behind the wheel — such as stopping at red lights and stop signs, not riding on sidewalks, and not texting while riding — so the Denver Police Department is cracking down on violators.


    Streetsblog Denver even covered the crackdown:


  4. I have learned that you make your living through stoking feelings of ‘injustice’ done to poor motorists who at know fault of their own are getting unfair tickets from crooked cops – then selling ad space to slimy lawyers who offer defense against this unjust action of police forces.

    Or were you talking about the blog post that ‘cyclists are the WORST’ from an author who although claiming to be a cyclist himself proves he is making his narrative up out of thin air?

    Or me learning that you comment on your own site (that you don’t control, cough cough)that streetblogs is only for hysterical crazies?

    What did I miss?

  5. Why is anyone on this forum arguing with Mark Richardson? He is either an idiot or a troll (or both). Just ignore his comments.

    As I said in a comment below that no one seems to have noticed (at least it doesn’t have any up-votes yet), the only way to figure out for sure if the Idaho Stop will work is to implement it and check the results (accident statistics, and public opinion of bicyclists, pedestrians, and car drivers alike). Pass a law to legalize the Idaho Stop with a sunset provision that the law becomes null after some period of time (say 3 years) unless it is specifically reauthorized permanently, with the law specifying what criteria will be used to judge the efficacy of the results. If it doesn’t turn out to be a win-win for everyone then the legislature can simply not reauthorize it. Simple and effective solution that will settle the controversy.

  6. My earnings as a member of the NMA and a Director for the NMA Foundation amount to the magnificent annual sum of $0.00.

    If the travel speed that usually produces the fewest accidents is about 45 mph on an urban collector or arterial and the city posts an arbitrary limit of 30 or 35 knowing in advance it will have almost no effect on the travel speeds and then gives out a lot of 10-over and 15-over tickets to the drivers least likely to be in or cause an accident, that is no different than larceny.

    Cyclist groups often push for solutions to benefit the usually under 10% of commuters by cycle at the expense of the super majority who drive and will continue to drive. The solutions they seek are often not reasonable, and are aimed at making driving as difficult and frustrating as possible. We object.

    James C. Walker, National Motorists Association

  7. You should really stop promoting the idea that the speed the majority of motorists choose to travel is the safest speed. You’ve been told repeatedly by professional engineers and transportation researchers that you are misunderstanding or cherry-picking the research you claim supports that idea.

    The simplistic concept is outdated, and safety organizations and professional groups oppose its use. Even the conservative MUTCD will likely include more sophisticated and empirically supported methods for setting speeds in an upcoming revision.

  8. I just researched some of Mark Richardson’s Disqus comment history, both on Streetsblog and other forums. Every single comment of his is designed to provoke an argument, and many of his comments are only tangentially related to the article or comment that he is commenting on. Not only that, but in the last 7 hours he has commented on a Streetsblog article from March 16, 2017 (Busting the Myth of the “Scofflaw Cyclist”). He was replying to comments that were made over a year ago. So best case he is a troll, and might even be a bot.

  9. So let’s see, bikes are vehicles when they want to be, but can break the vehicle laws when they want to? Sounds like a safe plan!

  10. What part of “changing the law” don’t you understand? The whole idea is to change the law so that the bicyclists won’t be “break[ing] the vehicle laws”. And by the way, I don’t think bicycles should be treated like motorized vehicles. A 200 pound bicycle (combined weight of bicycle and rider) going 12 MPH is not the same thing as 2-ton SUV going 60 MPH, although a lot of vehicular cyclists don’t understand that.

  11. Bikes are vehicles. When they want special perks, it will confuse people and may lead to more crashes. I would not expect a bike to run a light or stop sign.

  12. “may lead to more crashes”. That’s right, you don’t know that it will. But there is a way to find out. See my comment below on passing the Idaho Stop law with a sunset provision. That is the only way to find out, but as long as people on both sides of this debate can’t understand that, we will probably never know. Although the actual statistics from Idaho show that in that state it hasn’t resulted in more cashes.

    And it doesn’t matter if you or anyone else “would not expect a bike to run a light or stop sign”. The vehicle drivers only need to assume the bicyclist will behave just as he would have if the Idaho Stop was not legal. The rules of yielding right-of-way won’t have changed one iota. If a bicyclist “run[s] a light”, which isn’t allowed by the Idaho Stop (but nice try at the red herring), it will be because he is an idiot, not because the Idaho Stop law allows it. And if he runs a red light and gets hit, regardless of whether the Idaho Stop is legal or not, he will be the one that mostly pays the price for being stupid.

  13. I know, I am still in pain from being hit by a car that made an illegal left hand turn and crushed”

    So you blame yourself instead of the careless driver?

    “If there are no bike lanes in your town stay off bikes.”

    How am I supposed to do that? I can’t walk everywhere. And the bus system in my town needs a lot of improvement. So unless you are going to get my county to start taking the bus system seriously and/or pay my taxi fares, keep that suggestion to yourself.

  14. Steven, I am sorry that you got injured in a crash, but those things happen sometimes. We can’t just stop riding bikes wholesale because some bicyclists get injured or killed. The best way to avoid getting injured or killed is to ride as much as possible on bike trails or bike lanes, although bike lanes are often opposed by vehicular cyclists. And at all times, especially when you are riding on the roads with vehicles, ride defensively and be prepared for vehicles (and other cyclists) to do dangerous, stupid and/or illegal things.

    The Idaho Stop law, which is the entire subject of this thread, will probably also reduce bicycle injuries and fatalities, if the Idaho statistics are a good indication, but since that will probably never be widely implemented anywhere outside of Idaho we will probably never be able to get that benefit.

  15. I don’t know what the figures are in other cities, but in my town surveys pretty consistently find about 60% of residents say they would bike more if they felt it was safer. So adding protected bike lanes directly addresses a concern of 60% of residents.

    A number of studies have found that the more people biking there are, the safer all road users are. People using bicycles are also more likely to patronize local businesses, and they tend to spend more money locally overall. There are other benefits too, even without getting into whether more bicyclists mean fewer car users (and fewer car users, of course, benefit everyone).

    The idea that cycling facilities only benefit a minority is short-sighted at best.

  16. Bike riders want to be vehicles when it helps them, then want special rights otherwise. All this will surely confuse drivers.

  17. Except for the fact that to get a license in Europe you actually have to learn how to drive.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


Aspen, Colorado, to Vote on “Idaho Stop”

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 […]

Refereeing the Raging Debate Over the “Specialness” of Cyclists

There’s a tussle going on right now about how cyclists should ride on city streets. Yesterday’s Streetsblog Network post took a snapshot of this debate, excerpting the WashCycle’s response to a Sarah Goodyear piece in Atlantic Cities. Sarah wrote that cycling is no longer a mode for daredevils and mavericks weaving through traffic. Some cities now […]