California is considering legalizing the Idaho Stop for bicyclists.
Many transportation safety experts say that the Idaho Stop is actually safer for bicyclists.
The change would be to the part 21200 California Vehicle Code to read:
[…] a person operating a bicycle approaching a stop sign, after slowing to a reasonable speed and yielding the right-of-way to any vehicle or pedestrian in the intersection or approaching from another highway or street so closely as to constitute an immediate hazard during the time the person is moving across or within the intersection, may cautiously make a turn or proceed through the intersection without stopping. However, if required for safety, the person shall stop before entering the intersection, and may proceed after yielding the right-of-way.
The California Bicycle Coalition has a petition and is looking for signatures in support of this Assembly Bill and they explain the issue succinctly:
Almost all street intersections in California pose as a safety threat to people on bikes. The longer it takes for a person on a bike to pass through an intersection, the greater likelihood that they’ll get hit by an oncoming vehicle. […] When people on bikes cross more safely at intersections and traffic flows more smoothly, it is a win-win for everyone.
The Vision Zero Department of Transportation push to end all deaths on our roads for all road users, is a great ideal to strive for and while improvements have been made, we’re still falling behind:
The year 2015 marked the largest increase in traffic deaths since 1966 and preliminary estimates for the first half of 2016 show an alarming uptick in fatalities – an increase of about 10.4 percent as compared to the number of fatalities in the first half of 2015.
Los Angeles, San Jose, and San Francisco all have the unfortunate claim to being in the top ten most dangerous cities for cyclists in the USA, per National Highway Traffic Safety Administration 2015 data. sadly, and Bicycle Advocacy at @BIKELA pointedly calls this out as Zero Vision.
This NHTSA Survey of Bicyclist and Pedestrian Attitudes and behavior is from 2012 but it is relevant today in 2017.
One startling take away is that cyclists do feel threatened on their bikes on a fairly regular basis:
When asked whether they felt threatened for their personal safety while riding a bicycle on their most
recent travel day, one in eight respondents that had ridden in the past 30 days reported that they felt
threatened during some point on their ride.
And no surprise, bicycle lanes and bicycle paths are important to cyclists, and being able to have one nearby where you live and work makes a difference:
Respondents who had ridden a bicycle within the past year and who have bicycle paths available within a
quarter mile of where they live were more likely to use bicycle paths for at least some of their rides
compared to riders not living near bicycle paths.
Though cyclists want the “Idaho Stop” and California cyclists may soon get this law, the majority of cyclists know to obey the same roadway laws as car drivers and do stop at stop signs and lights:
Nearly all respondents were aware that the rules that apply to motor vehicles regarding traffic lights and
stop signs also apply to bicyclists. More than 9 in 10 reported that a bicyclist must stop at traffic lights
and stop signs.
Everyone is a pedestrian.
Respondents who had walked outside for five minutes or more at least once during the past year were
asked how often they walk during the summer months. Four in five respondents reported walking at least
once a week. Very few respondents claimed that they never walked during the summer months.
A group of Seattle-based safer streets advocates say they’ve been able to foster a much more civil debate by changing up the language they use.
City Lab 2/11/2017
“Now the city talks about safety. When you feel like what you are gaining is the ability to walk freely and safely around your neighborhood, rather than bike lanes for somebody else, that sounds a lot better.”
Two San Francisco pedestrians injured, after driver collides
The driver, who also had a green light but failed to yield to the pedestrians, was not arrested, police said.
California pedestrian deaths projected to jump 12 percent
While California was not among the states with the highest rate of pedestrian deaths per capita, the data suggests the state’s fatalities could jump by as much as 12 percent over 2014. California recorded the highest number of deaths among the states at 347 through June.
Teen killed crossing street after L.A. schools closed over threat was ‘awesome student’
[…] A Los Angeles Times analysis identified Avenue 60 and Figueroa Street as a particularly problematic intersection for pedestrians, showing that 13 people were hit, two fatally, from 2002 through 2013. […] A total of 73 people were hit and four were killed at the five intersections from 2002 through 2013. […]
Federal Report: Bad Street Design a Factor in Rising Ped/Bike Fatalities
[…] The investigation was ordered by U.S. representatives Rick Larsen (Washington State), Peter DeFazio (Oregon) and Eleanor Holmes Norton (DC) in response to increasing pedestrian and cyclist deaths. Between 2004 and 2013, traffic deaths dropped steadily for drivers, but inched up for people walking or biking, according to the GAO. The cause of the discrepancy isn’t clear. […]
GAO-16-06 (PDF) PEDESTRIANS AND CYCLISTS Cities, States, and DOT Are Implementing Actions to Improve Safety