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. It is beyond stupid to allow bikes in car lanes . I know, I am still in pain from being hit by a car that made an illegal left hand turn and crushed the bike and left me with shattered disc from neck to tail bone in 1990. If there are no bike lanes in your town stay off bikes. Cars are needed, bikes are a luxury. Bikes do not belong on the same roads as cars.

  2. I find that in Houston Texas engineering and road construction are not concepts that go together. I suspect that part of the equation in Houston that trumps engineering is called graft ( as in bribes).
    Side bar, we have a very high freeway entry ramp bridge where no bridge is needed. Yes from access road to freeway by a bridge over a few feet of dirt. A big high bridge for no reason but corruption.

  3. We have right on red as well. It’s great. But we look before crossing. Maybe your whole study should tell you how many idiots do not watch out for themselves, or maybe Canukes are just idiots. With your current government that is what would seem logical.

  4. That doesn’t happen in Europe where stop signs are very rare in many countries – with fatality rates lower than ours.
    James C. Walker, National Motorists Association

  5. Europeans in most countries don’t drive as fast, as often, and have many more options for travel than the USA where car companies own media, and many minds.

  6. You look before crossing? Sounds like you never walk except from your car to the mall. What a nice lifestyle. TV-car-mall.

    A life worth living.

  7. I have driven in 27 world countries and find Europeans are usually as fast, sometimes faster, than US drivers. Agreed that Europeans who live in denser cities often have better travel options – for which they pay higher overall taxes. Yield protocol reduces air pollution, noise pollution, wear on vehicles, wasted fuel, and lost time. I’ve never owned a “pony car” or a “muscle car” – and have zero interest in similar cars. I now have a VW GTI which replaces a Ford Fiesta ST, which replaced a Mazda 3. All are 30 mpg vehicles with decent performance.
    James C. Walker, National Motorists Association

  8. I have walked, roller-bladed, and cycled in many countries, and drivers are always the most dangerous thing around. The fewer drivers, the more pleasant the town or hood.

    Trolling car memes doesn’t change that.

  9. I cycle for a living and for many hours during my free time. And I find myself doing Idaho stops for stop signs and red lights because… it’s safer.

    I don’t do this when I’m cycling with other riders, however, because they aren’t as experienced as I am.

    Many habits that I have developed over the last few decades of daily bike commuting and long-distance cycling ACTUALLY INVOLVE breaking the rules for cars in order to stay safe.

    The current rules of the road do NOT help with pedestrian or cyclist safety. They maximize driving convenience (one single tech) to the point of killing 40,000 innocent people each year and have killed most of the streetlife across North America.

  10. Drivers per unit area are almost always higher in Europe because the population density is greater. Michigan and Great Britain have about the same area. Michigan has 10.5 million people, Great Britain has 65 million. If someone wants a low density of drivers, try the low population western states like Montana or better yet Wyoming.

    James C. Walker, National Motorists Association

  11. Pedestrians, bike riders, scooter riders and automobile drivers all can make things better or worse for those around them. Making all traffic flow easily should be the base line expectation. When one group exerts their expected “rights” , things do not go as well as they could. I spend most of my time as a pedestrian in the city. Waiting on a corner for cars and bikes to pass by just makes sense to me. I want to cross the street AFTER the cars, scooters and bikes, are gone.
    Every person using roads, and bike lanes, and sidewalks, has the opportunity to improve, or retard the smooth flow of transportation.

  12. It’s safer and also much more convenient. I ride (in California) using the Idaho Stop for both stop signs and red lights, while keeping an eye out for cops. It is also slightly more convenient for car drivers at 4-way stops because I get through the intersection faster so they don’t have to wait as long for their turn. I don’t understand why there is even a debate on this subject. The most amazing thing about the debate is that the opponents of the Idaho Stop don’t even understand that the only way to definitively prove or disprove the efficacy of the Idaho Stop is to implement it and then check the results. If it isn’t a win-win for everyone then it is relatively easy to change the law back to what it was before. In fact the law to legalize the Idaho Stop could have a sunset provision so that it automatically becomes null after some period of time (say 3 years) unless it is specifically authorized again, as a permanent change.

  13. I am opposed to allowing bicycles to treat red lights as yield situations only in a few States for several reasons. One is the fact that many out-of-State drivers won’t be used to it and will be expecting cyclists to stop. Federal law mandates that bicycles abide by the same traffic laws that motorists do, as well as that any driver engaged in interstate commerce abide by Federal traffic law rather than State traffic law. When cyclists run red lights and stop signs it breeds dislike for cyclists among the motoring public.

    Here in downtown Denver and in certain other US cities we have 4-way pedestrian signalization with diagonal crosswalks. Here we have had a problem with bicyclists running red lights and mowing down pedestrians who have the right of way. That is why in my opinion cyclists need to stop at red lights as we all need to abide by the same laws.

  14. The Idaho Stop returns typical cyclists (who roll through stop signs when it is safe to do so) to the ranks of the “law abiding citizens.” This probably has a positive psychological effect and might lead to overall safer bicycling. The psychological value of of being accepted by society can be significant.

  15. The Idaho Stop legalizes rolling stops, but only when rolling stops are safe. It also does not change the right-of-way rules. The only thing that changes with this law in place is that typical, safe, bicycling practices become legal and people riding bicycles feel slightly less like they are branded as outlaws simply for riding a bicycle.

  16. Can you provide some numbers to back up your claim? How many cyclist have “mowed down” pedestrians. Also, please tell us how many drivers have mowed down pedestrians…or are you not interested in that fact?

  17. I replied at-length but Streetsblog immediately pulled my comment as spam. I am a professional planner with 40 years of transportation experience. Not interested in what I have to say about our experience in Denver with bikes running red lights and stop signs or why we decided to move away from that policy, because of too many accidents?

    Don’t take my word for it. Here is the City of Denver’s bicycle page. Why not ask them about it?

    https://www.denvergov.org/content/denvergov/en/bicycling-in-denver/infrastructure.html

  18. Car companies in Germany are WAY more influence in Germany than America. They have safer roads and fewer stop signs. Jim is right here – while being wrong absolutely everywhere else.

  19. It actually forces attention as the intersection is ‘controlled’ by the fact that all must yield to the right (left in GB, IRL) Therefore if you ‘blow through’ an intersection you run the risk of causing an at-fault collision.

    I know I don’t feel any safer crossing in the US through a controlled intersection as drivers are looking for the next hole in ‘traffic’ and not at pedestrians.

  20. Replacing stop with yield would be a disaster. This is why it is not done in Europe as you previously asserted. ‘Yield to the right’ is standard at any intersection. No signage is needed.

  21. Strange that you didn’t take over the ‘Keep LA Moving’ article from Joe Linton in the comments. In fact, not a single one despite the fact that the issue is exactly ‘engineering changes that often permanently solve problems’

    Oh, Jim. It would be much more interesting to engage you if you weren’t so pathetically disingenuous and transparent.

  22. Jim? Really?

    MICHIGAN VEHICLE CODE (EXCERPT)
    Act 300 of 1949

    257.649 Right of way; rules; violation as civil infraction.

    (2) When 2 vehicles enter an intersection from different highways at approximately the same time, the driver of the vehicle on the left shall yield the right of way to the vehicle on the right.

    THIS IS YOUR OWN STATE’S VEHICLE CODE!! And you’re the ‘expert’ here? Yes, tell us more about all these engineering hurdles.

    Jim, you’re slipping.

  23. I didn’t place it, but its comments apply to some cyclist lobbies. Please note the writer is an avid cyclist.

    Like or not, the overwhelming majority of commuters in most cities choose to drive for a long list of personal freedom reasons – and will continue to do so for those reasons. Cyclist commuters rarely reach 10% of the total now, and are most unlikely to ever reach 20% – especially on a 12 month basis. So when a 4 lane arterial or collector is reduced to two lanes with 50% of the driving surface lost to the overwhelming majority of users, that is simply not proper or reasonable.

    James C. Walker, National Motorists Association

  24. Drivers in the UK, Germany and other countries have experienced the use of Yield or Give Way protocols – with Stop signs being very rare, normally used only when the sight lines don’t permit safe evaluation of the cross traffic. Drivers can come from a minor street to a major multi-lane collector, arterial or highway and turn right or turn left or cross the whole road without stopping if the way is clear. I kept track in the UK for 3,000+ miles of driving with a Stop sign about every 800 miles.
    James C. Walker, National Motorists Association

  25. Some Road Diets are OK if the volume is low enough to not cause serious congestion at the choke points. Many are not OK on the main collector & arterial streets.
    James C. Walker, National Motorists Association

  26. Give Way or Yield protocol requires the driver to yield to traffic from BOTH directions (including cyclists or pedestrians present) when turning into the opposite lane or crossing the entire road. UK, D, and other drivers don”t “blow though” intersections – they evaluate when it is save to cross or turn into either lane. It works very well – noting that such a change in the US would require some serious educational programs.
    James C. Walker, National Motorists Association

  27. That is the rule for an UNCONTROLLED intersection.
    257.649 (3) The right of way rules in subsections (1) and (2) are modified at through highways and otherwise as provided in subsection (4) and in this chapter.

    Using Yield or Give Way protocol means the driver on that road does NOT have priority and must yield to traffic on the main road.

    James C. Walker, National Motorists Association

  28. Exactly. so why are you speaking about ‘signs changed’? All you have to do is take down stop signs.

  29. Right. Which is exactly the situation we have been discussing – Europe. Why is this so hard for you?

    Oh, I know: as always you are making bad-faith arguments.

  30. They reinstated my post further down after someone reported it as spam and the mod staff didn’t agree.

    Under FHWA Uniform Vehicle Code bicyclists must follow the same laws as other roadway users and you are not allowed to run red lights or stop signs. Denver used to allow both but changed their policy in the fall of 2017 and have been ticketing bicycle riders who fail to stop since then.

    Perhaps you should verify this with FHWA or with Denver’s Department of Public Works, which plans and manages bicycle infrastructure in the city, or with the DPD. Their stated reasoning 18 months ago for their policy change was a high number of accidents though it could also have been FHWA pressure as Federal Uniform Vehicle Code doesn’t allow bikes to run red lights and treats bikes legally as vehicles.

    Here is a City of Denver page on bicycling:

    https://www.denvergov.org/content/denvergov/en/bicycling-in-denver/infrastructure.html

  31. Again, No one is speaking about ‘running’ anything. To describe it as such does nothing to advance the conversation.

  32. You need some markings or signs to define that the drivers on the minor road do NOT have the right of way. In the UK, it is usually done with the upside down triangle (Yield sign shape) painted on the pavement plus a line painted just beyond the triangle shape which says the main road has the right of way.
    James C. Walker, National Motorists Association

  33. Many countries in Europe use the Yield or Give Way protocol to define the minor road drivers do not have the right of way. The US could work toward that system with a lot of education to eliminate a large percentage of the stop signs. I would support that for many reasons. Would you?
    James C. Walker, National Motorists Association

  34. Just searched through your ‘data’, except wihtin that entire hierarchy, there was no data pertaining to UVC, any policy change 18 months ago nor that users were once allowed to ‘run red lights’.

    Also missing was any information on ‘number of accidents’

    So, again, you offer no evidence and no one is speaking about ‘blowing through stop signs’ other than you. Pointing this out is not an attack. Sorry.

  35. Of course! Can you imagine how many Americans would total their car in the first year alone? Thereafter all would actually be forced to pay attention while driving and slow the hell down. (all without ‘engineering’ Jim). I’m totally behind this.

  36. You are a breath of fresh air through the otherwise totally hysterical comments of StreetsBlog.

    But seriously, thanks for driving traffic from your cave of knuckle-dragggers here. I hope they learn something while here.

  37. Frank, you are right that car companies have TOO MUCH influence in Germany, as they do in the USA, Australia, Canada, and many other countries. But to compare this influence to the USA…. is incorrect.

    In most large USA cities, cars are a monopoly transportation option. In Germany, other transportation options are convenient and abound.

    So while in Germany (or Sweden, or Walloon Belgium), car companies have too much influence, in the USA they have a monopoly of interest. Which is much more serious and damaging.

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