VANCOUVER (NEWS1130) – Should cyclists be able to bend the rules of the road? A local coalition believes they should be allowed to treat stop signs as yield signs.
It’s idea that might not float so well with drivers, but Erin O’Melinn with cycling group HUB in Vancouver says it would only be done in certain situations.
“They’ve done this already in Idaho; it’s been happening for years now,” she points out. “It’s a law that says if you’re on a bicycle and you get to a stop sign, you can treat it as a yield sign.”
You don’t have to sit at an intersection in Vancouver very long to see it happen: A cyclist sailing right through a stop sign with barely a tap on the brakes. Even HUB admits on its website that a ‘stop-as-yield’ law would “permit behaviour that is already very commonplace, thus improving relations between cyclists and other road users.”
“You still would have to stop for any other traffic that has right of way,” notes O’Melinn. “But if there is no other traffic that you should be stopping for, you can continue on if it is safe.”
She argues it’s safer for cyclists not to come to a full stop because starting up again can mean losing balance mid-intersection. “It’s less safe for a cyclist, sometimes, to stop and then start at a very slow speed, when it’s harder to balance as they’re going through the intersection.”
“It makes people safer because when you’re cycling, you’re paying more attention to whether things are actually coming versus ‘I’m going to stop and then go because that is what’s supposed to happen even though not all of the other road users are necessarily doing what they are supposed to be doing,” she adds.
“It’s kind of like jay-walking; jay-walking is often safer than crossing in a crosswalk because you’re paying more attention.”
While there’s no campaign yet for such a law, O’Melinn also says it has worked in Idaho for 30 years, encouraging more people to bike and letting police focus on drivers breaking the law. The group is studying the idea for future consideration.
“We’re quite curious to see if there are other benefits, other challenges, in the long term. Are there negative or positive impacts?”
O’Melinn adds HUB always encourages cyclists to obey the law, wherever they happen to be.
ICBC says it frequently receives requests from HUB to make changes to road testing procedures, to which it has responded many times. It will not comment on the ‘stop-as-yield’ idea.