Stop Signs and Bicyclists

Discussion in 'Road Cycling' started by XLFD, Dec 6, 2010.

  1. XLFD

    XLFD New Member

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    As a rule most or all motorized vehicles are required to stop at stop signs on city streets. But should bicycles be required to stop? Wouldn't you think that bicyclists should have special road privileges because we a not motorized, or because our view of traffic is better because we can also hear traffic conditions, or because we can stop faster?

    I would like to hear other opinions about the issue. Do you think bicycles should be required to adhere to the same stop sign laws as motor vehicles? Why or Why Not?
     
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  2. jhuskey

    jhuskey Moderator

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    Idaho has a law that allows a stop sign to be treated as a yield and ared light as a stop sign and I think some other states are looking at this. Some states allow motorcycles to consider red lights as a stop sign since the bike will not trip the signal
     
  3. MMMhills

    MMMhills Active Member

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    Cyclist should not have special privileges. I preach this alot and hear it goes again.

    When you are on a bike you should treat all laws as if you were on a motorcycle. Stay to the far right of your lane and stop at all stop signs and lights. When you come to a light you should stay in line with traffic do not cut to the front. It is real simple just follow the laws as if you had a motor.

    We already have problems with non cycling motorist and it is because of one thing, ignorance. They just don't understand that it is safer for us to be on the road, but can you blame them for getting upset when they are stopped at a light and we pass them on the right then blow the light. We are not speceal just another form of transportatiopn that needs to obey the laws.
     
  4. JoelTGM

    JoelTGM New Member

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    No a stop sign is there because there is some kind of intersection where other cars can pass infront of you. You stop at the stop sign for safety, and then you follow the right of way rules to know when it's your turn to continue. Also bicycles do not stop faster than cars. Cars have four wide wheels, large brakes, and an anti-lock braking system that can bring them from a very high speed to a dead stop in no time at all. Anyway, the best way to ride your bike is to not think about your rights as a cyclist but to make sure everyone is as safe as possible, and that means you should follow the same safety rules that they do.
     
  5. davereo

    davereo Well-Known Member

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    Cyclist should follow all the rules in place for motor vehicles. Some states including this one have cycling laws which are in place to set a relationship between motorist and cyclist. Cycling laws and regulations should be part of basic drivers ed. In Massachussetts a cyclist can be cited for a moving violation if they break the law. This violation will not effect their driving record.
     
  6. Ozgur.Nevres

    Ozgur.Nevres New Member

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  7. frenchyge

    frenchyge New Member

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    Quote:
    Originally Posted by XLFD .
    Do you think bicycles should be required to adhere to the same stop sign laws as motor vehicles? Why or Why Not?



    No, they shouldn't. Laws governing licensed operation should factor the characteristics of the vehicle and most importantly -- the ability of the vehicle to do harm to others. Granting bicycles the same rights and responsibilties as motor vehicle puts cyclists at undue risk from all other road users because of the size and speed disadvantages, and is simply lazy lawmaking by people who don't understand the differences in operating a bicycle vs a car.

    Regarding stop signs specifically, motorists recognize a cadence of stopping quickly (if at a all), then accelerating quickly across. If cyclists truly adhere to the prevailing law by unclipping to put 1 foot on the ground, then clipping back in before pedalling across, they are navigating the intersection so much slower than the cars that they create more of a traffic confusion/disruption than they would if they simply rolled slowly to the line and crossed simultaneously with the car next to them.

    Treating stop signs as yield signs makes a lot of sense, especially since cyclists are in a permanent yield situation already since our butts are hanging out in the wind. Unlike cars, it's easy for a bike to properly observe a yield sign since their speed is so much slower.
     
  8. BHOFM

    BHOFM Active Member

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    I agree that bicycles should obey all laws and be treated the same as
    a motor vehicle.

    Here you are required to obey all signs and lights.

    I do fudge a little now and then, depends on traffic conditions.
    I don't always come to a full stop, just slow enough that I don't
    have to put a foot down, but I could still stop in a couple feet.
    Some of the lights don't sense the aluminum bikes, never had
    a problem with the old WalMart mountain bike. And a lot of our
    lights have cameras as sensors. I just proceed with great caution.

    We can ride on the sidewalks, pedestrians have the right of way.
    Same on the trails.

    Be safe and make it easy for the cyclists. Being dead right ain't no
    fun.

    We live in a very bicycle friendly area and want to keep it that way.

    Cell phones are the enemy.
     
  9. sitzmark

    sitzmark Member

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    I think having common laws for all vehicles is actually a rare act of the KISS principle, rather than lazy lawmaking. All vehicles operating by the same rules means everyone knows what to expect. That is exactly what gives cyclists the protections needed to negotiate the roadways with respect for the differences in size and speed. Motorists don't always like it, but cyclists have the same rights-of-way when following the rules. Selectively choosing which rules to follow and which just leads to chaos because some will always push too far.

    That said, there can be room for some personal judgment - not necessarily making it right, but logistically efficient. Just like travel ling 69mph in a 65 zone,you're technically in the wrong and leaving the door open to a citation. No whining about the ticket if it happens ... the speed limit is clearly posted. At some point excessive "personal judgment" is going to lead to a definite crossing of the line. Traffic laws are set for the lower common denominator, not the highest. That builds in a margin of "safety".

    The same applies to rolling a stop sign. It may not be convenient to stop and put a foot down, but it is the law and the safest interpretation of the rule. Citing a disadvantage in acceleration power is no excuse - would be the same as a Ford Fiesta driver saying his vehicle is underpowered, so he should be allowed to roll all stops. Whether bike or Ford Fiesta ... wait for an opening that matches the acceleration power of the vehicle.

    Some things seem a bit illogical, like stopping at an intersection before turning right into the nearest lane of traffic. Chances are you're going to be overtaken no matter when you pull out. The only technical difference is whether it is at the intersection, 30 feet down the road, or 100 feet down the road. BUT the real-world difference is that drivers expect that cyclists will stop at the stop sign and when they don't it raises doubt in driver's minds about what following actions to expect. Drivers may panic as a result and slam on the brakes or swerve into oncoming traffic, causing an accident. Can cyclists roll it safely? Probably. However, if cyclists stop as all vehicles are expected to do, the element of surprise and uncertainty is diminished and the driver of an approaching vehicle is less likely to overreact.
     
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  10. 64Paramount

    64Paramount Active Member

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    Well spoken, Sitzmark! /img/vbsmilies/smilies/icon14.gif
     
  11. swampy1970

    swampy1970 Well-Known Member

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    1. Having seperate laws for bikes and "everyone else" is dumb and would lead to further confusion for the already confused folks who can't follow the laws applicable to their own mode of transport (ie cars), let alone expecting them to learn two sets of rules.

    Everything should be the same, from the requirements for lights at night (solid white front/solid red on the rear), arm based turn signals (read the drivers handbook for what to do if your cars indicators fail), to the actual "rules of the road" and how to drive/ride and position oneself in the road for a given situation.

    When you start to add confusion and different rules then bad things happen.

    2. Learn to trackstand - even for a split second. In Cali at least the law is that a vehicles wheels must come to a complete stop. It doesn't say how long for...
     
  12. daveryanwyoming

    daveryanwyoming Well-Known Member

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    Actually in California the vehicle laws require a cyclist to put a foot down at an intersection for the stop to be considered legal, at least that was the case when I lived and rode there. Look it up.

    There's already a world of gray between cyclists and motor vehicles regarding laws. We regularly ride on shoulders and share lanes with other vehicles when there are no shoulders both behaviors wouldn't be legal for motor vehicles. In Washington state cyclists can legally choose to ride on sidewalks, that's not true in every state but it's never true for motor vehicles. As Frechyge points out bikes are generally at a disadvantage to motor vehicles and the most important thing is to ride safe and smart and in general to ride somewhat defensively. I like the Idaho laws, they don't relieve cyclists of responsibility at intersections, they just give them more flexibility.

    But regardless of the written laws and what cyclists are 'supposed' to do, there's the reality check of how folks, regardless of the vehicle they're operating. actually obey those written laws. Who hasn't exceeded a speed limit occasionally while driving? Who hasn't rolled a stop sign without as complete a stop as the law might desire from time to time? Cyclists are no different than drivers of motor vehicles when it comes to coloring outside the lines when they think it's safe to do so. Sure they'd better accept the risk of an accident or ticket when they choose to ignore traffic laws but that's no different than someone who drives a bit above the posted speed limit.

    Cyclists have rights and the responsibilities that go with them, but that's no different than driving a car. You should know the laws and in general obey them, especially when someone's safety, including your own, is at stake but there's no more moral obligation to blindly follow all laws any more than there is while driving a car if you aren't endangering anyone in the process.

    -Dave
     
  13. MMMhills

    MMMhills Active Member

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    Actually in California the vehicle laws require a cyclist to put a foot down at an intersection for the stop to be considered legal, at least that was the case when I lived and rode there. Look it up.

    There's already a world of gray between cyclists and motor vehicles regarding laws. We regularly ride on shoulders and share lanes with other vehicles when there are no shoulders both behaviors wouldn't be legal for motor vehicles. In Washington state cyclists can legally choose to ride on sidewalks, that's not true in every state but it's never true for motor vehicles. As Frechyge points out bikes are generally at a disadvantage to motor vehicles and the most important thing is to ride safe and smart and in general to ride somewhat defensively. I like the Idaho laws, they don't relieve cyclists of responsibility at intersections, they just give them more flexibility.

    But regardless of the written laws and what cyclists are 'supposed' to do, there's the reality check of how folks, regardless of the vehicle they're operating. actually obey those written laws. Who hasn't exceeded a speed limit occasionally while driving? Who hasn't rolled a stop sign without as complete a stop as the law might desire from time to time? Cyclists are no different than drivers of motor vehicles when it comes to coloring outside the lines when they think it's safe to do so. Sure they'd better accept the risk of an accident or ticket when they choose to ignore traffic laws but that's no different than someone who drives a bit above the posted speed limit.

    Cyclists have rights and the responsibilities that go with them, but that's no different than driving a car. You should know the laws and in general obey them, especially when someone's safety, including your own, is at stake but there's no more moral obligation to blindly follow all laws any more than there is while driving a car if you aren't endangering anyone in the process.

    -Dave



    I actually got pulled over for this here in Michigan. I did a track stand then continued through the intersection and was pulled over by the local sheriff. Fortunately I live in a small town and call the sheriff by his first name. He did not ticket me just explained the law.
    I still do trackstands at stop signs but am aware that I could be ticketed. I also roll those some stop signs in my car aware that I could be ticketed.
     
  14. davereo

    davereo Well-Known Member

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    Well spoken, Sitzmark! /img/vbsmilies/smilies/icon14.gif



    Well spoken for sure. This is a very important topic which should not be overlooked. This thread deserves to be a featured topic.
     
  15. BHOFM

    BHOFM Active Member

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    When I do a "roll through" it is in very low traffic areas with good visibility.
    On major streets I do full stops. I always signal when there is traffic.
     
  16. frenchyge

    frenchyge New Member

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    I understand that it's the law, but that wasn't the question. How is it safer to put a foot down and whose safety does it increase? The disadvantage in acceleration is problematic because if you roll up to the line at a busy intersection, then take the time to do the full, required stop (including requisite unclip), then take off again, you will probably be run over in the middle of the intersection by the crossing motorists because you took too long. Requiring the full stop puts the cyclist in a situation where they are disrupting the normal flow of traffic rather than allowing them to blend in to the safe and orderly flow.

    There already *are* different laws for different modes of travel. The fact that bicycles have been lumped in with cars doesn't make it any smarter just because they both have wheels -- the similarities end there.

    I can respect the opinions of those who feel that bikes should follow the rules for cars, but why? It's not for the safety of the cyclists, so who does it serve? Does it really add to the safety of motorists that bicycles are following the same rules, or does it just make the motorists that much more complacent and likely to encroach on our rights? Why do you feel that a cyclist's vulnerability on the road doesn't warrant some additional protections, as pedestrians are granted (ie, *complete* right of way in their designated portion of the roadway (crosswalks))?

    I don't disagree, but I also don't see that as a good thing because exceptions are what people take notice of and exercise caution around. If motorists are comfortable adopting a "you'd better stay out of my way" mentality regarding cyclists, then the laws to promote safe travel on our roadways have failed us.
     
  17. frenchyge

    frenchyge New Member

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    Quote:
    Originally Posted by BHOFM .

    When I do a "roll through" it is in very low traffic areas with good visibility.
    On major streets I do full stops. I always signal when there is traffic.




    Me too, but that would be no different if it were a yield sign (stop when vehicles are present, proceed cautiously otherwise). Of all the people on the roads, cyclists are the least in need of laws to encourage them to act safely.
     
  18. sitzmark

    sitzmark Member

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    Quote: Originally Posted by frenchyge .

    Quote: Originally Posted by sitzmark .

    The same applies to rolling a stop sign. It may not be convenient to stop and put a foot down, but it is the law and the safest interpretation of the rule. Citing a disadvantage in acceleration power is no excuse.


    I understand that it's the law, but that wasn't the question. How is it safer to put a foot down and whose safety does it increase? The disadvantage in acceleration is problematic because if you roll up to the line at a busy intersection, then take the time to do the full, required stop (including requisite unclip), then take off again, you will probably be run over in the middle of the intersection by the crossing motorists because you took too long. Requiring the full stop puts the cyclist in a situation where they are disrupting the normal flow of traffic rather than allowing them to blend in to the safe and orderly flow.

    I'm not sure I'm following the example, but if it is stopping and unclipping to make a left turn (or straight through) a cross traffic situation, I do that almost every time I ride. Never had a problem. If the concern is the traffic behind me at the stop sign ... well, too freakin' bad because the law says it's my lane and my turn in the queue to make the next safe entry into the cross street.



    According to the law they can't adopt a "you'd better stay out of my way" attitude. In legal terms we're not sharing a lane - we own the lane and have the right of way if we are ahead of another vehicle. If they can pass us safely, they may do so ... if not they wait. Doesn't matter if it is a cyclist, a motorcycle, or Grandma Jones in her classic Buick Roadmaster on a slow Sunday morning drive ... if it isn't safe to pass, they follow until it is. Our responsibility is to not unnecessarily impede traffic.

    In Massachusetts, the law now clarifies that on a roadway with two lanes traveling in the same direction, cyclist are legally allowed to ride two abreast and control one of the lanes - the right unless making a left turn. (All vehicles should also be in the right hand lane unless passing or turning, but most Americans are ignorant of that rule). A single cyclist has always had the right to control a lane if is not safe to travel to the right hand side of the road.

    If someone is inclined to adopt a "stay out of my way" approach, then a special law (or exception) isn't going to change their attitude.
    :
     
  19. frenchyge

    frenchyge New Member

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    Sorry, I was referring to the case of a 4-way stop with traffic in all directions. My experience is that overly delaying my entry into the intersection (by unclipping) tends to encourage the cross traffic to rush through while I'm still trying to roll off. When there are left-turners as well it is mayhem. I typically roll slowly along the side, then go when the cars immediately to my left go (against the law).

    It won't change their attitudes, but it makes education/enforcement/judgement easier and more clear (which in turn changes behavior). You may not feel we are legally sharing the lane with motorists, but in states where the laws have weak wording which mandates cyclists ride as far to the right as practiceable and lack an enforceable minimum safe passing distance, the interpretation of "safe to pass" is left in the hands of the people in the 2-ton steel boxes and leaves room for the "cyclist swerved right in front of me" defense. The equal rights and responsibilities laws are vague enough that unless there is a clear, witnessed fault on the part of one driver then it'll probably be referred to the insurance companies to sort out -- that works fine for car v. car interactions, but throw cyclists into that arena and clearer protections are needed. For example, does Massachusetts law control how far in front of a bicycle a car must be before making a right turn? Not really necessary for car v. car interactions since they are always single file, but that gap in the car v. bike statutes either fails to address a common source of collision for cyclists or places the cyclist at fault (as the following vehicle) by granting them "equal rights" when a car turns right across their path of travel.
     
  20. sitzmark

    sitzmark Member

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    Specific distance - no, but does clarify the requirement not to "cut off after passing". This is the same for motor vehicles too, but is now highlighted for emphasis as it pertains to bicycles. http://www.massbike.org/resourcesnew/bike-law/bike-law-update/

    I'm not saying I always follow what is legally correct, but do the vast majority of the time.

    A couple of weeks ago to continue my route, I needed to navigate a busy road with 2 lanes each direction, a 50mph speed limit, and virtually no buffer to the right of the solid white line. That was a bit nerve wracking, but I used hand signals to indicate when I needed to move left to avoid road debris or broken pavement. I rode the lane as responsibly as I could to be repectful of traffic, but took control of the lane when necessary. Fortunately I only had a couple of miles to travel until crossing off to a side road on the left.

    The left turn is what proved to be the most challenging. There was a dedicated turn lane with a traffic light controlling left turns. As I moved across both lanes and into the turn lane, I stopped behind 8 or 9 cars. Cars continued to line up behind me. Realizing that I couldn't move fast enough not to disrupt flow of traffic behind me, I decided to move up to the front of the line. (legal in MA). But I didn't want to be on the right of the lead car and trapped bet wen it and cars travel ling 50mph to my immediate right, so I moved up on the left using the median. (Illegal). When the left signal turned green, I waited for a string of cars to turn left, then when the light turned yellow and the string stopped I jumped in behind the last car and peeled left before the two oncoming lanes started forward. Judgment call. I could have held my spot in the queue, which would have been the legal thing to do, but seemed unnecessarily disruptive to traffic flow.

    Sometimes you just have to go with your gut.
     
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