The law in Idaho permits cyclists to roll up to a stop sign, yield the right of way, and then proceed without stopping. This is what the “MS-8″ Multiple Sclerosis charity ride participants did and what most bike commuters and weekend riders that I have observed do in Leesburg, Loudoun and Fairfax Counties. The “Idaho Stop” law makes sense and should be adopted by other states, including the Commonwealth of Virginia. The “Idaho Stop” law does NOT allow a cyclist to “Blow through” or “Race through” a stop sign.
Had the “Idaho Stop” law been in effect during the Multiple Sclerosis charity ride or when the Potomac Peddlers bike group was stopped by the Loudoun County Police, then none of the “MS-8″ would have to appear in the Loudoun District Court tomorrow in Leesburg to contest the charges.
Furthermore, Laws that make the roadways safer for cyclists and motorists, while at the same time freeing up the traffic courts, police and judges to concentrate their precious time, energy and resources on dangerous criminals and drunk drivers should be adopted.
It’s the “All American” thing to do. As one who has represented injured cyclists and motorists throughout Loudoun, Fairfax and Leesburg, the Idaho Stop law makes sense and apparently saves lives as well.
According to research from the University of California’s School of Public Health, the law has made roadways safer, while getting more people to commute by bike. Carl Bianchi, a retired administrative director of Idaho’s state courts who is widely considered the father of the Idaho Stop, said it was traffic judges — not cyclists — who pushed for the idea in 1982, according to an April article in The Oregonian. “Police were ticketing bike riders for failing to come to a complete, foot-down stop. Judges, however, saw “technical violations” clogging up their courts. “We recognized that the realities of bicycling were a lot different than driving a car,” Bianchi said. But the year after the Idaho Stop became law, bicycle injuries in the state actually declined by 14.5 percent.
“Meanwhile, in the past 27 years, Idaho motorists and police have grown to accept the legislation as sensible public policy”, said Jason Meggs, a UC-Berkeley researcher who spent last summer crunching years of traffic data, conducting interviews and observing cyclist behavior in the state. Boise, home to Idaho’s biggest bike population, “has actually become safer for bicyclists than other cities which don’t have the law,” Meggs said.