California Law Proposes “Idaho Stop” for Bicyclists Approaching Intersection in Effort to Reduce Accidents

A proposed bill to be considered by California lawmakers will allow bicyclists to yield at stop signs, as opposed to coming to a complete stop, provided there is no oncoming traffic.  Assembly Bill 1103, is based on the “Idaho Stop” law that permits bicyclists within that state to treat stop signs as though they are yield signs.   According to the California Bill, bikers would have a legal duty to stop for pedestrians as well as cars that have the right of way.  This change in the Vehicle Code may benefit motorists by making intersections more efficient, encouraging bicyclists to simply roll through the stop sign if they have the right of way.

According to some studies, the law that has been adopted by Idaho, nearly three decades ago, has resulted in increased bicycle safety.  Injuries among bicyclists declined after the law took effect in 1982, and they have remained at the same level thereafter.

Under California Vehicle Code 21200, bicyclists bear all of the same responsibilities and rights as drivers of passenger vehicles. The theory behind AB 1103 is that by maintaining their speed when approaching an intersection, bicyclists can quickly clear this potentially dangerous area, where they are vulnerable to being struck by a driver.

Opposition to the bill has centered on the confusion that drivers may face as they approach intersections with bicyclists.  Additionally, there is concern that the law may be difficult to enforce.  According to some bicyclists, they already slow down and approach intersections with the intention of rolling through if there is no traffic.  In other words, the law will codify what is already taking place.

Opponents, which include the California Police Chiefs Association and the Automobile Club of Southern California, make clear that the fact that a bicyclist is breaking the law that requires them to fully stop does not require changing that law.

The California Highway Patrol has noted that pedestrians and bikers are among the more vulnerable users of roadways. According to the CHP, bicyclists continue to suffer harassment from aggressive drivers.  Specific laws are already in effect throughout the state to protect the rights of bicyclists, such as the “Three Feet for Safety Act.”

According to the Three Feet for Safety Act, when a driver is passing a bicyclist riding in the same direction, the driver must provide a safe distance, no less than three feet, in order to ensure the safety of the biker.  If it is not possible to provide this minimum three-foot passing distance, drivers must slow when passing and not endanger the biker.

At Sharifi Firm, our bicycle crash attorneys can set forth strong arguments for compensation from at-fault drivers responsible for your harm.  To schedule your confidential consultation and learn more about your rights, contact our office at (866) 422-7222 or online.  We help victims of bicycle accidents throughout Southern California and are ready to advocate on your behalf.

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