How a Proposed Law Could Make Intersections Safer for California Cyclists
July 12th, 2021|
The Safety Stop Bill (AB 122) aims to make intersections safer for California cyclists by letting them treat stop signs as yield signs. When a bicyclist gets to a stop sign, and there are other vehicles, they must yield and give the right of way to any vehicle in the intersection. If there aren’t other vehicles, they do not have to come to a complete stop.
Among bicyclists, this is already a common courtesy. Many of them support it, including police officers and bicycle-related associations. While not everyone is for it, this proposed law protects everyone on the streets, including drivers.
An Explanation of the Safety Stop
Safety stops are known as the “Idaho stop” because Idaho was the first state to have this bicycle law passed in 1982, which some other states have already assumed. Idaho’s law allows cyclists to treat stop signs as a yield sign and red lights as a stop sign. The broader adoption of this policy is a first step toward recognizing that cyclists use the roads differently from vehicle drivers and adjusting traffic laws accordingly.
Benefits of Implementing this Law in California
For cyclists, this proposed law can make sharing the road with other bicyclists and vehicles safer.
● Align Laws With Other States
Aside from Idaho, Delaware, Washington, Arkansas, Colorado, and Oregon also have similar traffic laws. Utah and North Dakota have recently passed similar safety stop laws as did Oklahoma.
Some of these states have already seen significant changes in bicycle safety as a result. For example, Delaware saw a 23% decrease in bicyclist injuries. California will join other states in policing bicycles on the streets and making the roads a safer place for cyclists.
● Boosts Safety for Bicyclists
According to a 2010 DePaul study, most bicyclists slow down and pass stop signs instead of stopping entirely, with only 1 out of 50 bicyclists coming to a complete stop. Safety laws like Idaho’s yield law led to a 14.5% decrease in bicycle injuries a year after introduction.
Rolling through a stop sign makes the journey easier for cyclists than completely stopping and regaining momentum. For the sake of safety, using stop signs as yield signs benefits cyclists.
● Protects Drivers
Many car accidents occur at intersections because of confusion among drivers and bicyclists. Drivers do not always come to a full stop, and bicyclists move at a momentum where they cannot always stop on time at an intersection. Sometimes, drivers do not see bicyclists before they make a turn at an intersection. As a result, drivers regard bicyclists as disrespectful of the law.
If the Safety Stop law passes, drivers can fully understand that bicyclists must yield to other vehicles and wait until their turn. The law gives bicyclists a head start, making themselves visible to other drivers, preventing crashes if a driver needs to turn in the same direction as the bicyclist.
The Safety Stop Law is Safer for Drivers and Bicyclists
Approximately 70% of bicyclists who rode through stop signs did so for safety reasons, as reported in a recent study. The study also found that drivers more often break the traffic safety law.
Drivers will have to learn to adapt to the new law and better recognize bicyclists on the streets. Transportation is changing as a society pivots more toward walking and bicycling rather than a heavy reliance on vehicles. Legalizing the Safety Stop law will make intersections safer for bicyclists and drivers in California.
A Local Car Accident Attorney Can Help
Until the law passes, California still requires bicyclists to come to a complete stop and follow the same rules of the road as drivers. If you are injured in a car or bicycle accident in California, you need an experienced attorney in your corner. A car accident can result in serious injuries, incurring medical expenses, and wages lost for time off work. The consequences may be especially severe for a cyclist involved in a collision with a motor vehicle. California car accident attorneys can help you understand your rights following a collision. With four decades of experience, Berg Injury Lawyers are skilled in many related practice areas, including car accidents, wrongful death, and personal injury cases. Contact us today to request a no-obligation, free consultation.