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Are stop-as-yield laws good for cyclists?

If you ride your bike to work or school every day, you undoubtedly have come upon at least one stop sign where coming to a complete sign makes very little sense. After all, you can see oncoming traffic and know when it is safe to proceed. You also regularly see cars roll through stop signs.

In recent years, several states have amended their traffic laws to allow riders to treat stop signs as yield signs. California came close to following suit in 2021, but Governor Newsom vetoed the bill.

The advantages of stop-as-yield laws

Those who advocate for stop-as-yield laws typically see them as a boost to cyclist safety. In places where these laws are in effect, they generally have yielded the following results:

  • A reduction in start-and-stop bicyclist injuries
  • An increase in cyclist visibility to other drivers
  • A drop in bicycle-car collisions at intersections

Put simply while it may seem counterintuitive, cycling advocates believe allowing riders to stay on their bikes at intersections fosters safer interactions between motorists and riders.

The drawbacks of stop-as-yield laws

When traffic is not present, yielding and proceeding may be a safe course of action for experienced riders. When vetoing the California bill, Governor Newsom expressed concern for younger cyclists. Specifically, the governor worried about young riders who may lack the experience necessary to judge the speed of approaching vehicles.

Because Governor Newsom’s concerns may have merit, some debate remains on the wording and applicability of stop-as-yield laws in the Golden State. Ultimately, until the law changes, cyclists are likely better off complying with the existing rules of the road.