Bill Would Make it Legal for California Bicyclists to Roll Through Stop Signs

Bicycle Accident Deaths in California Hit 25-Year High

A new bill, if legalized, would allow bicyclists to treat stop signs as yield signs, essentially legalizing the “California stop” for bicyclists. According to KPIX 5, Phil Ting, a state assembly member, introduced the bill, which will allow bicyclists to basically roll through stop signs, a move dubbed as the “California stop.” Ting explained that a study by a UC Berkeley professor showed that this could potentially move bikes off busier streets onto ones with more stop signs. He added that the longer a bicyclist remains at an intersection, the more likely he or she is to get struck by an oncoming vehicle.

Arguments For and Against

The bill raises the question about pedestrians who wait at a crosswalk for a car to stop. But what about bicycles? Under this bill both bicycles and cars would still need to yield to pedestrians. The bill will also continue to require bicyclists to stop at red lights and emphasizes that they would only be allowed to go through stop signs if it is safe to do so.

Opponents of the bill argue that if passed, this law could encourage bad habits and might leave too much up to the bicyclists’ discretion. Idaho is the only state in the country, which has a similar law. A 2010 study shows that Idaho saw a decline in bicycle accident injuries after this law was passed.

Why This Law Could Help Bicyclists

Under the California Vehicle Code, bicyclists have the same rights and responsibilities as drivers of other vehicles. However, bicyclists are also among those on the roadway who are at risk of suffering serious, life-threatening injuries. In Idaho, the law passed in 1982. A 2010 study there showed that bicycle injury rates fell by 14.5 percent the year after the law passed, and then remained flat.

The law in Idaho also goes one step further and allows bicyclists to proceed through a red light after coming to a full stop and ensuring safe passage. So why do rolling stops help bicyclists? Even at very low speeds, rolling stops help bicyclists to maintain momentum and increase efficiency. Rolling stop does not mean blowing through stop signs at speed. The law hasn’t been controversial in Idaho, but it hasn’t passed anywhere else in the country. It was proposed in Oregon but didn’t pass.

Bicyclist do face a real danger on our roadways. If this law has a good record, it might not be a bad idea to give it a chance in California, if only as an experiment, to see if it reduces the number of bicycle accident injuries


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