Should Cyclists be Allowed to Blow Go Through Stop Signs?


Video of San Francisco Cyclist blowing every light and stop sign here

We learn from Kate at Carectomy that San Francisco is considering changing the law to permit cyclists to blow through stop signs. "Bicycles would still have to yield if there was a car at a stop sign. They would still have to stop for that car and let them go through," Rachel Kraai of the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition told CBS News. "At a stop light they would still have to stop and look both ways, but then they could go through."

Supporters hope that the law, which already passed in Iowa, will encourage people to ride bikes because it "makes it easier" to do so.


Typical Toronto stop sign, Sweet One Creative Commons
Is it the signs, not the cyclists?

Kate suggests that cyclists are technically pedestrians and can legally take liberties; not where I live, where bikes are considered vehicles. However, I think there is an interesting point here. Stop signs used to be used for traffic safety, and would stop traffic on one road at an intersection, usually the minor one, while letting it through on the other. Then they evolved into a method of traffic calming, slowing everyone down, and two way stops became all way stops. In Toronto most other traffic control methods, like "no left turn" and "no entry 4 to 6" have signs underneath saying "bicycles excepted"- why don't stop signs?

Is it not possible that the problem is not the cyclists blowing through stop signs, but the proliferation of all-way stops? One commenter to the Carectomy post noted that in California, "Cars run them, cops run them, everyone runs them, so much so that the 'rolling stop' is often called the 'California stop'. "



The Drachten Experiment

Think of Drachten, where they removed all of the traffic lights and stop signs, based on the work of the late Hans Monderman. "The many rules strip us of the most important thing: the ability to be considerate. We're losing our capacity for socially responsible behavior," says Monderman. "The greater the number of prescriptions, the more people's sense of personal responsibility dwindles."

If one acknowledges that stop signs are primarily for speed control rather than safety, then there is really no reason to demand that bikes stop, rather than yield. But maybe a better alternative that would make everyone happier would be to remove the useless stop signs and use some of the other forms of traffic calming that don't involve full stops. ::Carectomy

Watch for a survey on this tomorrow.

TreeHugger on getting rid of signs

German Town Scraps Road Signs to Increase Safety :
Traffic Lights Replaced By...Courtesy?
TreeHugger on Traffic Calming
StreetFilms' Animation Explains Diverters as Traffic - Calming ...
The ( Traffic ) Calming Chicane

Tags: Cities | San Francisco

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