Since January 1, 2020, Oregon cyclists have been permitted by law to treat a stop sign or a flashing red light at an intersection as a yield sign. The playful term for this approach is an “Idaho stop”, because it first became law in Idaho in 1982. A solid red light at an intersection still requires a cyclist to stop.
More specifically, a cyclist approaching an intersection governed by a stop sign or a flashing red light can proceed legally “without stopping if the person slows the bicycle to a safe speed” as long as they yield to others using the roadway who have the legal right-of-way.
The text of the law is here [https://www.oregonlegislature.gov/bills_laws/lawsstatutes/2019orLaw0683.pdf].
According to the San Francisco Chronicle, in an opinion piece stating that the “Idaho stop” promotes safety from a cycling perspective, “a 2010 UC Berkeley study found that cyclist injuries in the state dropped 14 percent the year the law was implemented.” See “Why the ‘Idaho stop' is safe cycling” [https://www.sfchronicle.com/opinion/openforum/article/Why-the-Idaho-stop-is-safe-cycling-6535635.php].
Some reasons the “Idaho stop” is considered a safer approach:
- Stopping saps a cyclist's energy faster than a “rolling stop”;
- It promotes the use of side streets and lessens the time that cyclists are exposed to dangers at intersections;
- The significant positive impact the same law has had on Idaho's cyclist safety for the last 28 years or so.
Earlier this month (February 2020), local cyclist Web site BikePortland.Org did an article checking in with local law enforcement officers and local cyclists to see how those folks were feeling about the law 1-2 months in. That article is here [https://bikeportland.org/2020/02/13/slow-then-go-checking-in-on-oregons-new-stop-sign-law-310772].
From our perspective, any attempt to make the roads safer for everybody using them is a positive development and our hope is that the “Idaho stop” law will significantly improve cyclist safety in Oregon the same way it has in Idaho.