When bikers take to the road, they are required to abide by all traffic laws. This creates safety for both bikers and drivers, as both bikers and drivers then have clear expectations about behavior.
Yet, there is one law in Idaho that gives bikers a little wiggle room when it comes to following traffic laws. It’s called the “rolling stop” law. According to StreetsBlogSF, in 1982, Idaho legalized the “rolling stop” for bikers, meaning that bicyclists can treat stop signs as yield signs. The law has been in effect for three decades now and it has been found to be safe and effective. Currently, Idaho is the only state with a “rolling stop” law on its books. Idaho is noted to have exceptional bike safety statistics.
Now, other states are pushing to pass “Idaho rolling stop” laws of their own. For instance, bikers in Oregon and San Francisco, California have been lobbying to establish “rolling stop” laws in their states and cities. In San Francisco, bikers demonstrated what would happen to city traffic if bikers came to complete stops at every stop sign. According to SFGate, the route that these protest bikers used faced serious traffic congestion, compared to routes where bikers ostensibly broke the law and treated stop signs as yield signs.
The argument for Idaho’s “rolling stop” law is that a bike is most efficient when it utilizes momentum effectively. Even a bike that has slowed down remains efficient. Asking bikers to come to complete stops at stop signs, when there are clearly no cars nearby, reduces a bike’s efficiency. Bikers preserve their energy by trying to avoid dead stops as much as possible. States like Idaho that have allowed for “rolling stops” allow bikers to use their energy effectively, while still requiring bikers to observe safety laws. Additionally, bikers generally take great care at stop signs. After all, as a StreetsBlogSF video reminds viewers, bikers “have the most to lose in a collision.” Most bikers approach a stop sign with extreme caution, looking left and right and left again, and only proceed if they have a clear right of way. Generally, though, because bikers are moving more slowly than vehicles, they perform these safety measures while still slowly moving forward so as not to lose precious momentum and to preserve energy.
It is important to note, however, that Idaho’s “rolling stop” law does not give bikers the right to ignore stop signs. Bikers are required to stop at stop signs if they don’t have the right of way. A biker who performs a rolling stop that requires a driver to take evasive action to avoid a collision is breaking the law. Idaho’s “rolling stop” law places serious fines on bikers who completely disregard stop signs in this manner. In fact, the fine is higher for bikers who fail to give other vehicles the right of way.
The Law Office of Johnson & Lundreen are personal injury attorneys in Meridian and Boise, Idaho. If you’ve been injured while biking, our firm can take a close look at the law and determine whether you may be entitled to compensation for your injuries.