State bill enacts roll-through laws for bikes, non-motor vehicles

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Collegian | Falyn Sebastian

(Graphic illustration by Falyn Sebastian | The Collegian)

Austria Cohn , News Reporter

Bicyclists and people on electric scooters over 15 years old are now able to generally treat stop signs as yield signs and red lights as stop signs.

Gov. Jared Polis signed House Bill 22-1028, known colloquially as the “Safety Stop” bill, April 13, changing the law for bicycles, electric scooters and e-bikes. Bicycle Colorado, an advocacy organization that does work in policy and education around bike safety, was a key player in this bill’s signing. 

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“The ‘Safety Stop’ is important because it keeps people on bikes safer,” said Jack Todd, director of communications and policy at Bicycle Colorado. “Intersections are the most dangerous places for people on bikes. … When bicyclists are able to get out of that location faster, it improves their safety.”

According to the Highway Loss Data Institute, in 2019, 35% of bicyclist deaths occurred at intersections.

Dave Dixon, executive director of bike advocacy nonprofit Bike Fort Collins, said this bill is not to give cyclists favorable treatment but instead to clear intersections. Dixon said clearing intersections reduces the potential that bicyclists and vehicles will come into conflict with each other.

“Forty years ago, in the first year (Idaho) adopted it, they saw a nearly 15% drop in crashes between people biking and people driving.” -Jack Todd, Bicycle Colorado director of communications and policy

“The law stipulates that (riders) can only proceed through the intersection if the coast is clear, meaning there’s no traffic coming the other direction,” Dixon said.

Colorado State University student Lillian Ward bikes around campus to get to classes, dorms and Morgan Library. Ward thinks it’s safe to bike around campus, but the outer parts of campus are where she runs into the most conflict with cars. 

“It’s only at stop signs where the cars feel like they have the right of way, and they’ll turn in front of you,” Ward said. “They don’t see us; they only check for other cars at stop signs.”

According to Auto Justice Attorney Michael Gibson, 40% of cars that run into cyclists rear-end them, and these types of accidents are often at stop signs.

Other states have adopted similar bills, like Delaware’s Bicycle Friendly Delaware Act, which allows bicyclists to treat stop signs as yield signs.

The Bike Delaware webpage, showing data collected by the Delaware State Police, states crashes involving bicycles at stop sign-controlled intersections fell by 23% between November 2017 and April 2020 as compared to the preceding 30-month period, which coincides with when Delaware Gov. John Carney signed the Bicycle Friendly Delaware Act into law (October 2017).

The first state to ever pass a bill similar to this was Idaho in 1982. Since then, similar bills have referred to the idea as the “Idaho Stop.”

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“Forty years ago, in the first year (Idaho) adopted it, they saw a nearly 15% drop in crashes between people biking and people driving,” Todd said.

This bill only applies to bicyclists that are aged 15 and older or are accompanied by an adult.

“I think it’s a great win for the bicycle community to be able to legally do something that is safer for them,” Todd said. “We went for this bill because we have seen the data, and we believe it’s safer for bicyclists, so we’re enthusiastic supporters.”

Reach Austria Cohn at news@collegian.com or on Twitter @AustriaCohn.