If you pay attention to changes in California bike laws, you may have heard of stop-as-yield or safety stop laws attempting to pass. While the passing of a safety stop bill failed in California for the time being, these laws stand in several other states.
Safety stop laws contain a few simple but significant changes to the rules of the road that may benefit cyclists.
How do safety stop laws work?
Under current California law, cyclists must obey stop signs and traffic lights as if they were driving a motor vehicle. This means coming to a complete stop before continuing.
Safety stop laws adjust this, allowing cyclists to treat a stop sign similarly to a yield sign. In some states, cyclists may also treat stop lights as stop signs. This means, after coming to a complete stop, cyclists may continue forward if the way is clear, even if the light remains red.
How do cyclists benefit from safety stop laws?
Cyclists tend to remain much more aware of motor vehicle drivers than motor vehicle drivers remain aware of cyclists. Data shows states enacting stop-as-yield laws saw a decrease in cycling accidents. People on bikes utilize safety stops by taking the greater opportunity to ride defensively. These laws also encourage more people to ride bikes by making getting around quicker and more efficient.
For the time being, we must continue to follow California laws requiring a complete stop at stop signs. However, safety stop laws hold interesting potential and should be on the radar of anyone who bicycles frequently.