Cyclists don’t want to obey stop signs
By Andrew Dreschel
City Hall’s cycling subcommittee thinks it’s high time the province permitted cyclists to treat stop signs like yield signs.
In other words, they think cyclists should be legally allowed to pedal through stop signs without always coming to a complete stop.
Most of us call that a rolling stop.
But, to the cycling world, it’s apparently known as an “Idaho stop.”
The name originates with a law passed by the Idaho state legislature in 1982 that allows bicyclists to wheel through stop signs without coming to a full halt unless there are other vehicles at the intersection, in which case they’re supposed to yield the right of way.
That’s one of the changes the subcommittee wants to see the Ontario Ministry of Transportation adapt in order clarify the responsibilities of all road users and to encourage more people to cycle.
But, this Monday, councillors on the city’s public works committee applied the brakes to the idea, preventing the recommendation from being included in a list of suggestions to the ministry such as more lighting requirements for cyclists.
In defending the proposal, Brian McHattie, council’s rep on the cycling subcommittee, explained the Idaho stop makes sense because cyclists have better visibility than motorists and coming to a full stop impedes their momentum.
McHattie’s position dovetails with literature that suggests obeying stop signs puts a physical burden on cyclists and — in a bizarrely circular form of reasoning — removing the legal obligation would help diminish perceptions they’re always breaking traffic rules.
That didn’t ring any bells for other councillors.
Tom Jackson and Lloyd Ferguson both spoke against it, with Ferguson arguing cyclists shouldn’t be treated any differently than motorists.
Terry Whitehead worried it would open a “Pandora’s box.”
“I have some challenges and a lot of complaints with cyclists on arterial roads and how they don’t yield, quite frankly, when they need to, which is causing some consternation,” Whitehead said.