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 New Oregon Cyclists Law & The Idaho Stop
The text of the law is officially part of the Oregon Legislature.
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.”
Idaho Stop Is Safer
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.
Law Enforcement & Cyclist Opinion
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. According to the article, it looks like cyclists and police officers are adapting nicely to the new law.
Sgt. Ty Engstrom said, “I have not received any specific complaints since the beginning of the new year in regards to this new law." He then continued on by saying, "However, as the weather improves and more cyclists take to the streets, I suspect we will get some motorists calling in about cyclists not stopping.”
Most officers are stressing the need for people to understand the new law.
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.