Four decades ago, Idaho legislators passed a revision of the traffic code in their state which allowed bicycles to treat stop signs as yield signs and stoplights as stop signs.  Rather than unleash a torrent of bicycle accidents as non-bicyclists might believe, the laws actually saw a statistically significant decrease in bicycle accidents across the state. 

Still, other states did not start following Idaho's example until recently, with Delaware adopting the Idaho stop 35 years after Idaho did in 2017.  Arkansas (2019), Oregon (2019), Washington (2020), Utah (2021), North Dakota (2021), and Oklahoma (2021) followed, making seven states that currently allow bicycles to yield at stop signs.  Colorado has explicitly acknowledged that localities can adopt what is now labelled a "safety stop" in their jurisdictions, the city of Steamboat Springs just enacted it, joining Breckinridge, Aspen and several other cities in that respect.

Steamboat Springs Police Department Chief Cory Christensen endorsed the ordinance, citing data that showed the measure increases safety.  “The data says this is safer, that’s the bottom line.  It’s dangerous for our bicyclists when they’re in the intersections waiting for cars.”  Even so, it passed by the slimmest of margins, 4-3, with detractors overlooking the statistics and the basic reasons why the safety stop is safe.  Another Colorado city with an ordinance is Englewood, a video was used to explain why it was good law:

According to a study by Jason Meggs of UC Berkeley in 2009, bicyclist injuries in Idaho dropped 14.5% after the original Idaho Stop law passed. In Delaware, a study of the “Delaware Yield” law found that it reduced bicyclist injuries by 23% at intersections with stop signs.  There is no indication any of the other six states adopting it since 2019 have seen anything different.

Allowing cyclists to keep some of their momentum increases safety and traffic flow. Bicyclists usually stop off to the right at a stop sign, which puts them in a blind spot for some motorists. Stopping and starting is the hardest and most vulnerable time for bicyclists. This helps reduce the speed difference between bicycles and the cars around them, and when the car does overtake bikes, they are out of the intersection.

Michigan is not a state with this law, although the League of Michigan Bicyclists are advocating strongly for it with a push last month.  Michigan law does not explicitly give cities the ability to enact a safety stop ordinance, but it does give them the explicit power to enact legislation by the authority of MCL 257.606(1)(h):  

"This (Motor Vehicle Code) does not prevent a local authority with respect to streets or highways under the jurisdiction of the local authority and within the reasonable exercise of the police power from... Regulating the operation of bicycles." 

Ludington has used this portion of the law to enact Ludington bicycle rules that require dismounting in certain situations, not riding on certain sidewalks, addresses trick riding, etc.  They could easily copy and adapt one of the resolutions/ordinances passed in Colorado, such as this one from Thornton, or this one from Breckinridge.  Ludington currently has a city manager who is an active bicyclist, and at least one councilor who regularly rides her bicycle, has a master plan that endorses increasing bicycling in the community, so this wouldn't be automatically dead in the water from the start.

The positive effects would be dramatic.  Bicyclists from across the state and beyond would recognize Ludington as a pioneering place that recognizes bicycle safety as a priority.  Other cities across the state would look at Ludington's leadership on the issue and consider adopting a "Ludington Safety Stop" of their own.  The LMB will be pointing at Ludington when they try to market the move to a statewide safety stop, which will happen at some point due to the critical mass of common sense hitting more and more red and blue states each year:


The time is ripe and the time is right for Ludington to do what's safe and conducive to traffic flow by considering bicycle safety stops and adopting a resolution to make it happen in Ludington.  It will not only make Ludington a destination for those who like our embrace of bicycle safety, but allow the city to garner a lot of attention from those just choosing a vacation destination.

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Replies to This Discussion

I can understand letting cyclists use a rolling stop for stop signs but not for going against a traffic light after stopping. A traffic light is installed when there is a busy intersection or when there is an accident history. Vehicles using the cross road are not looking for cyclists who go against the light. They assume all traffic will remain stopped until the light changes. If this situation of letting bicycles roll thru stop signs and crossing against a traffic signal is so safe then why is it not the standard and implemented right now for motor vehicles? If cars drivers are required to wear seat belts then why aren't there requirements that cyclists wear safety clothing and have safety lighting and strobes on their bikes?


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