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North Dakota Enacts “Stop as Yield” for Bicyclists August 1

Stop as Yield logo, Oregon Department of Transportation flyer, retrieved online 2021.07.29.
Stop as Yield logo, Oregon Department of Transportation flyer, retrieved online 2021.07.29.

North Dakota is making the daily commute safer for bicyclists. On Sunday, August 1, House Bill 1252, signed by Governor Doug Burgum last March, will go into effect, allowing cyclists to treat stop signs as yield signs:

House Bill 1252 – Yielding/Stopping While Operating a Bicycle This law allows bicyclists riding on the roadway to treat stop signs as yield signs under most circumstances. The exception is if the roadway contains three or more lanes of moving traffic. Under this circumstance the bicyclist is required to come to a complete stop regardless of whether or not a vehicle is present at the intersection. This law makes traffic flow more efficient and provides less wait times for bicyclists to accelerate [staff, “New Bike Laws Will Soon Go into Effect in North Dakota,” KVLY–Fargo, 2021.07.28].

Stop as Yield is also known as the Idaho Stop, as this pro-cyclist law was first enacted in Idaho in 1982. Utah passed a similar law this spring, joining Washington, Delaware, Arkansas, Colorado, and Oregon in allowing bicyclists to carefully keep their momentum through stop signs at unfrenzied intersections. Cycling advocates say letting cyclists coast through stops will reduce injuries:

“Intersections are one of the most dangerous places for a cyclist to be,” said Crys Lee, Bike Utah executive director. “This law should increase bicycle safety at stop-signed intersections as it has in places with similar laws like Delaware, where they saw a 23% decrease after enacting their stop as yield law in 2017” [“Utah, North Dakota Latest to Adopt Safety Stop Law for Cyclists,” Bicycle Retailer, 2021.03.30].

Idaho also saw a reduction in bicycle boo-boos when it enacted its pioneering law:

“Stop as Yield” has been the law in Idaho since 1982, and “Red as Stop” was added to the Idaho law in 2006. But is it safe? According to the Idaho Transportation Department, there has been “no discernible increase in injuries or fatalities to bicyclists.” In fact, the first year after the Stop as Yield law passed, injuries to bicyclists actually decreased by 14.5%. In other words, decades of real-world experience on Idaho’s roads demonstrate conclusively that Stop as Yield is safe [Rick Bernardi, “It’s Time to Greenlight Stop as Yield,” Bike Law, 2019.04.22].

I can attest anecdotally to the wisdom of allowing bicyclists to go easy through stops. In six years of cycling the distinctly mean streets of Aberdeen, I’ve ended up on the ground three times: twice after remounting and re-accelerating from a stop, and once right after a snow storm when I thought I was approaching a curb cut and instead encountered a buried full curb. The latter was entirely on me, but those stop-start falls show that the less a cyclist has to dismount and remount and change gear and pedaling force, the safer the cyclist is. Allowing cyclists to keep their balance and forward motion also means those two-wheelers will more quickly get through the intersection and out of the way of you folks who need a hundred times as much metal to get where you’re going.

And as the Oregon Department of Transportation explains, the more metal you’re driving, the more responsibility you have to watch out for lighter travelers:

Oregon Department of Transportation, flyer on Stop and Yield, retrieved 2021.07.29.
Oregon Department of Transportation flyer, retrieved online 2021.07.29.

Giving cyclists clear right of way and allowing them to coast through stop signs when it’s safe isn’t just special favor to the pedally inclined; Stop as Yield is equitable treatment for travelers using more of their own energy to get around town, and it helps everyone get around more safely and efficiently.

20 Comments

  1. John Dale 2021-07-29

    This is a travesty of justice.

    Think of the cars, man!

  2. grudznick 2021-07-29

    Are we to take this as an indictment of the legislatures for not enacting this Nodakian Stop into our law bills? Or a criticism of Governor Noem for not knowing how to ride a bicycle?

    Nay, says grudznick, let these bibshorts follow the same laws as you and I.

  3. Wayne 2021-07-29

    I’m trying to understand how this works.

    I, driving my truck, stop at the four-way.

    Bike approaches intersection.

    Since I’m there, I would expect the bike to stop. If I enter the intersection and they don’t yield / stop, and we have a collision, isn’t the cyclist at fault?

    How is this safer than ensuring a cyclist stops at an intersection and behaves like everyone else is expected to on the roadway? Sure, you may not experience as many minor injuries, but it’s the vehicle/cyclist ones that I’m concerned about.

  4. O 2021-07-29

    Wayne, you ask how is it safer, and that is answered the article, It is answered with the evidence from Idaho’s experience with the law.

    Bicycles tend to weave a bit when starting from a stop. They also do not accelerate as fast as motorized vehicles, so spend more time in intersections from a stop. The new law reduces the times this needs to happen from every time to only the times other vehicles are present and the cyclist must stop. The safety issue is compounded when clip-in pedals are used.

    Bikes still stop for cars (or other vehicles or even bikes). This is all about when no other vehicle is at the intersection.

    Be sure you are reading the terms correctly: “yield” doesn’t mean slow down; it means yield the right of way.

  5. Porter Lansing 2021-07-29

    As predictable as wind in the willows.

    Connies will find a way for automobile drivers to become the victim in this sensible change.

  6. John Dale 2021-07-29

    “Are we to take this as an indictment of the legislatures for not enacting this Nodakian Stop into our law bills? Or a criticism of Governor Noem for not knowing how to ride a bicycle?”

    John Dale approves of this message.

  7. Mark Anderson 2021-07-29

    More round a bouts, then you can all learn something new, like it or not boys and girls.

  8. Willy 2021-07-29

    Good for ND. I wish SD spent more time working on useful bills rather than finding more ways to make abortion less accessible or giving the gun lobby more gifts.

  9. grudznick 2021-07-29

    Roundybouts, Mr. Anderson, don’t work well in city residential areas where there are 4-way stops. I say, make those bicyclists stop just like everybody else. Put a foot down. Stop being those fellows dodging between pickemup trucks and SUVs, riding in between traffic on Main and St. Joe streets just trying to beat everybody to the hooka lounge or the fancy beer joint.

    Would this law bill apply to the pedal pub joint down there by Tally’s? I see a bunch of drunken cyclists screaming through stop signs, that’s what I see.

  10. Mark Anderson 2021-07-29

    I drive on roundabouts every day grudz, they work perfectly.

  11. Caleb 2021-07-29

    “let these bibshorts follow the same laws as you and I.”
    “I say, make those bicyclists stop just like everybody else.”

    grudz, most people who cycle don’t wear bibshorts while commuting. You clearly are out of touch with what cyclists experience, which would explain why you believe we should apply all the same laws to dramatically different vehicles and their use. I’d recommend looking into how many pedestrians bicycle riders have killed, how many automobile drivers have killed, and how many cyclists automobile drivers have killed. Maybe that could provide you the perspective needed to understand why treating the two differently under the law makes sense.

  12. Arlo Blundt 2021-07-29

    well…hate to agree with grudz, but bicycle riders of a certain cocksure persuasion scare the bejesus out of me. Never sure what they are going to do…stop, go swerve turn, or fall down.Coming up on them in the twilight dim can get your adrenalin up.

  13. Caleb 2021-07-29

    I don’t at all disagree with that, Arlo. The bicycle has been my primary transportation for 13 years now. I was definitely less wise in the early days, and still sometimes make mistakes that stress other road users. Even so, I’ve never suffered whatever delusions have inspired many people to regularly cycle in reckless and unsafe ways, such as riding against traffic, assuming everyone will stop for you at intersections, going around automobiles on the right side at intersections or even the middle of a block, etc. I wish I could inform them all of safer practices.

    However, outside my business window is a four-way stop, and no matter how many auto drivers completely blow through that stop sign (as I saw yesterday, and have seen multiple times each year) or fail to stop until they’ve fully crossed the crosswalk (the latter happens very frequently all day long), I won’t let that determine what I believe should be the law governing auto use around stop signs. Similarly, I don’t think basing cycling law on how some people cycle makes much sense, either. More sensible is to craft law around making cycling safer while allowing them to quicker get out of auto drivers’ way. That’s what the Idaho Stop law does.

    Side note, while some unpredictable cyclists are simply reckless, stupid, and/or ignorant, other unpredictable cyclists use unpredictability as an approach to safety. They aren’t the type to scare you, though: https://www.rivbike.com/pages/getting-cars-to-scooch-over-and-helmets

  14. O 2021-07-29

    If we had sensibly designed cities, most of these discussions of automobile travel (and those they menace) would be rendered moot. Historically, streets were made for pedestrian traffic until those nasty cars took them over.

  15. grudznick 2021-07-29

    You know the worst part, Mr. Caleb? It’s those fellows with the libbie European Presta valves. The bicyclists who are still riding about with the good old fashioned Schrader valves are much more conservative, have much more common sense, than those insaner fellows who are weaving about the traffice with their Prestas waving in the wind.

  16. Caleb 2021-07-30

    grudz, I sell bicycles, and therefore know you are again off the mark. Many people buy bikes from me not realizing they have presta valves, because I’ve been familiar with them so long that I often forget others have not seen them. Some of these folks indeed lean conservative, and ask that my company ream their rims for schrader valves. Other conservative leaning folk buy adapters allowing them to use pumps and air chucks compatible with schrader valves. Others acquire a pump that works on presta valves. Regardless, you’re a fool if you seriously believe valve preference and use correlate with erroneous riding or political tendencies.

    By the way, O is absolutely correct. I almost mentioned the matter in my last comment: the US has put cyclists in legal grey zones for a long time, and similarly created little safe space for cyclists. I don’t mean “safe space” as a coddling phrase, but instead use it the way civil engineers design roads to protect as many humans as possible from killing themselves and/or others in their automobile. I’ll go further than O, though – privileged cyclists worked hard to bring about smooth roads around the turn of the 20th century, and later the auto industry worked hard to convince the public that roads are for automobiles first and foremost (look into the history of “jaywalking”, for example).

    Another side note: “common sense” is such a trite phrase it’s meaningless without specification. People can hold wildly different sets of common sense given human diversity. IMO, expecting others to follow your common sense is reactionary, at best.

  17. John Dale 2021-07-30

    With the advent of so many smooth roads, imagine how sad must be the inventor of bicycle shocks.

    As with software and computers, was the upgraded valve necessary and advantageous for the average two wheeled kale munchers, or was the incompatibility used to generate profits with little discernible value to the majority of the market?

  18. John Dale 2021-07-30

    grudz, we have a new intellectual mule kicking in our stall.

    Must be the big guns (not to be confused with the biguns).

    wheee haaawww!

  19. Caleb 2021-07-30

    John, not every road was made smooth at once. Whoever created bicycle suspension had no reason to be sad back when most roads were still rough, and those who make it now have no reason to be sad given the wide variety of terrain on which people use suspension.

    I don’t know what the presta valve’s creator intended, but I believe bike makers widely employed the valve primarily to accommodate narrower rims and tires back when everyone assumed they were critical for the highest speeds. An actual marginal benefit to them is that they rely on a screw and nut to remain shut rather than a spring that can fail (this rarely happens, of course, but I wonder if John Howard was using a schrader valve when his rear tire lost air in his 1985 speed record attempt), though the screw is fairly fragile and some people break them through misuse.

    Regardless, in the past the average rider was unlikely to have a bike with presta valves, as still remains the case since most entry level bikes have schrader valves. Also, nobody sells bikes based on them having presta valves, because so many other bike features eclipse such a trifle. The difference in cost between schrader and presta valve tubes depends on valve lengths, but in general is a buck or two. The presta valve is not the racket you apparently think it is, and if it were any consideration in your mind, Dorothy Rabinowitz was wrong in promoting the idea of an all powerful bicycle lobby.

    Go ahead and keep on denigrating a bunch of people about which you know nothing, though. Stereotyping them only makes your intellectual laziness obvious.

  20. grudznick 2021-07-30

    The bicycle lobby is clearly far behind the Bonecracker lobby in the South Dakota legislatures or else we’d have the Nodakian stop now, wouldn’t we?

    And grudznick wouldn’t have gotten in on the ground floor of Redshift Sports and their bouncy parts that Mr. H likes or loaned Scott, Ray, and Sam that startup money back in the day.

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