Thursday, September 17, 2020

An Update On "Stop As Yield" Legislation In the United States

Biking has increased in popularity since the start of the pandemic.  With concern over taking public transportation and a desire for a fun, engaging activity that can be done while remaining socially distant, folks everywhere have been fixing up old bikes and buying new ones in large numbers.  For months now, bike shops in Chicago, and around the world, have found themselves in short supply of new bikes due to increased demand and supply chain issues.

With a significant increase in the number of people riding their bikes the need for laws that adequately serve and protect cyclists increases as well.  Eight years ago, I wrote a piece that appeared in Urban Velo (now defunct) chronicling the growing popularity of "stop as yield" laws, rules that permit bicyclists to treat stop signs - and in some cases, traffic lights - as yield signs.  Since then some additional states have adopted the law enacted first by the State of Idaho for the first time nearly 40 years ago.  Here's what's been happening over the past few years:
  • In 2017 Delaware became the second state in the country, after Idaho, to pass a law "permitting/requiring bicyclists to yield at stop signs (when the coast is clear), instead of requiring a complete stop at all stop signs," according to Bike Delaware. That organization notes that, "One of the keys to the near-unanimous passage of this legislation was the involvement, suggestions and buy-in from the Delaware State Police."
  • The following year, 2018, Colorado passed a law permitting municipalities in the state to adopt "stop as yield" at their discretion.  "Under the 'Safety as Yield law,' if a municipality passes a local law, a cyclist approaching a stop sign has to slow to 'a reasonable speed' and can proceed once it's safe to do so.  When approaching a red light, a bicyclist has to completely stop and can go once there is no cross traffic," according to The Coloradoan.
  • In 2019 Arkansas passed it's own statewide "stop as yield" law.  Under that law bike riders must "first slow down when approaching a stop sign, but they don’t have to stop unless it’s necessary to avoid an immediate hazard. They must also yield to any pedestrians who might be at the intersection.  At red lights, the rider must come to a complete stop, but may proceed through the intersection with caution once traffic is clear," according to The Fayetteville Flyer.
  • On January 1, 2020, Oregon became the fourth state to adopt a state-wide "stop as yield" law.  Under that statute, "if a cyclist who is approaching an intersection where traffic is controlled by a sop sign slows to a safe speed, the cyclist may do any of the following without violating the law: proceed through the intersection without stopping, make a right turn or left turn into a two-way street, make a right or a left turn into a one-way street in the direction of traffic upon the one-way street," according to bike lawyer, and friend, Bob Mionske, at
To my knowledge there is no current effort in Illinois to pass a "stop as yield" law.  This is shortsighted.  The current COVID-19 crisis only heightens the need for such a bike friendly law.  As many fear taking public transit, they look to bikes to get around.  The law should be revised to consider the needs of the growing ranks of Illinois bicyclists.

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