A few years back I wrote about the magic of the Idaho Stop.  In Idaho traffic laws were revised in 1982 with an innovative bicycle code that allowed  “bicyclists to do a “rolling stop” instead of a dead halt at stop signs~treating the “stop sign” like a “yield” sign. Some cyclists and police officers advocated for an amendment to this law which was passed in 2006. The amendment stated that cyclists must stop on red lights, and must yield before proceeding straight or making a left turn at an intersection. The benefits of the Idaho Stop according to two studies are that safety is improved, and cyclists can move to see around obstacles, lessening car collisions. “

You would think that this aptly named Idaho Stop would just be a good thing for cyclists to practice, keeping themselves safe and at the same time allowing them to review exactly what is happening in an intersection. They are not legal in British Columbia, as many a ticketed cyclist can attest. It is puzzling that the adoption of the Idaho Stop has been painfully slow, with even New York City’s Doug Gordon the co-host of “The War on Cars”podcast wondering why rolling stops are not allowed in T intersections.

Indeed Oregon is looking at adopting similar legislation to allow cyclists to have leeway approaching a stop sign or a “blinking” red light~ If there are no other vehicles with the right of way, cyclists could legally proceed without coming to a complete stop. Oregon has a champion in the state senate who has brought this concept forward several times.

Senator Floyd Prozanski who is also a cyclist introduced legalizing Idaho Stops  on April 5 “amending a placeholder bill to serve as a vessel for his idea”. Turns out Senator Prozanski is also the committee chair of the group that will review the bill allowing Idaho Stops, and this means it just might be successful.  Meanwhile Arkansas has just passed laws allowing for Idaho Stops, and Utah is now pondering the same changes in legislation.

Prozanski believes that once  cyclists are legally allowed to do Idaho Stops, the initiative will take off. As the senator bluntly says”“I just think it will do well if we move it forward.” 

You can take a look at this YouTube video below that talks about California turning down the Idaho Stop in 2017. The video also illustrates the history and why the Idaho Stop is effective in keeping cyclists moving and connected. The author also points out that bicycles are not cars, and should not be seen as vehicles from a legislative regulation sense. Is it a  compelling argument?



  1. Not only are cyclists vulnerable to air-bagged coffee-sucking commuters, but they are at their most vulnerable starting off from a full stop. That is when they wobble. Only after rolling do they maintain a straight line. It is more dangerous to come to a full stop. This curb lane is also where more aggressive drivers like to pull up to the light and jackrabbit past those who have been waiting. I often rightfully take the middle of that lane so that they don’t squeeze me into parked vehicles. These motorats are the ones who are particularly arrogant about our “shared space”.
    Add to that those who use toeclips, or other clip-in pedal systems, and the problem is amplified. I often use toeclips. It’s no mean feat to reinsert your foot for the second stroke when setting off from a dead start. Whenever possible, I roll slowly from way back to catch the light, or keep my feet in and lean against a pole or tree to avoid this pedalist Interruptus.
    Very often, I could come to a full stop, push the little button, and force motordom to a standstill while I scoot across in seconds; engendering more animosity to cyclists. But, if I have a clear line of sight, I’m there and gone leaving no motorists to fume. I hate it when a single cyclist forces lines of vehicles to stop. It’s not ecological. Hate it even more when it’s someone walking their dog.
    If there is no line of sight, I’m pushing the button. Going down Rupert to Brighton past Hastings St, I could stop, push the button, and bring lines of vehicles coming off #1 to stop. Never have. The line of sight there is such that a cyclist needn’t stop to cross safely.
    Other places are blind. Hedges are often a culprit.

  2. It seems to me that the appearance of the Idaho Stop is a result of the proliferation of stop signs. Drive into a Loblaws Superstore and you will likely see a forest of stop signs rather than yield signs. Position yourself at a stop sign ahead of a merge onto a major road and you will likely see the majority of vehicle drivers perform an Idaho Stop even when there is a marked cross walk directly ahead. One cannot rely on a car coming to a full stop at a stop sign anymore and often they are planning to execute a rapid right turn while looking left. This happens too when the traffic light is red. There is rarely the full stop that is required by law.

    Why is it that we have so many stop signs at intersections that are intended to give the right of way to vehicles in a particular direction? In Europe for example, these situations are handled by yield signs rather than stop signs. Years ago while driving through Germany I rarely saw a stop sign. The rationale for favouring the yield sign over the stop sign is similar to the Idaho Stop – to maintain momentum and minimize energy expenditure but not just for cyclists. On a bicycle this is important since stopping and starting is energy intensive and as been pointed out, spending too much time and energy getting through the intersection can be deadly. On an ebike that has a throttle it can prove useful. From my observations a four way stop seems to get the most respect from all parties but if one is rolling through stop signs out of habit, will it be a slow roll or a fast roll or will it be deadly. I would rather four way stops have yield signs. This would allow both motor vehicles and cyclists do a rolling stop. It’s better to have equality of rules on the road but come down hard on vehicles drivers that put cyclists at risk by their behaviour. Too many times in collisions they look to find fault with the cyclist. What happened to the rule that the motorist give way to the cyclist, the cyclist gives way to the pedestrian.

    It’s ironic that in Metro Vancouver so many drivers get away with an Idaho Stop that could easily kill a pedestrian while the police instead, aggressively ticket the cyclists who hardly constitute an equal threat compared to an SUV or truck.

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