Cycling: Should Denver consider a yield-stop law?
Earlier this month, news broke that Aspen is considering a yield-stop cycling law -- meaning that bicyclists would be legally allowed to yield at a stop sign as opposed to completely halting.
At least two other mountain communities -- Breckenridge and Dillon -- have similar yield-stop laws. But would such an approach work in a major metropolitan community like Denver? One cycling advocate says yes.
"I think the idea is great," says Ryan McCann, policy and outreach manager for the cycling advocacy organization BikeDenver. "If you talk to bike advocates, they think the rule should reflect what is practiced. We crafted street rules for motor vehicles, but now we're adding bicyclists to it -- and it makes sense that we have laws that reflect cycling in ways that promote ridership and help people ride safely."
The yield-stop law isn't a new concept. As outlined in this post on BicycleLaw.com, the State of Idaho enacted it in the early 1980s, and it's been in continuous effect, with only minor tweaks in 1988 and 2005, ever since.
Courtesy of BikeDenver Ryan McCann.
The notion took a while to spread, but as pointed out in this Summit County public notice, it was embraced by both Breckenridge and Dillon in 2011. And the Aspen Times reports that the city council there is investigating the concept with an eye toward a vote in the near future.
That's all to the good, in McCann's view. "The yield-stop law puts more onus on bicyclists," he believes. "Now, bicyclists will say it's not practical to stop all the way. But if you have a law that says cyclists can treat stop signs as yields, it eliminates that problem without decreasing safety."
McCann stresses that a yield-stop law doesn't necessarily mean cyclists will be allowed to cruise through stop lights, too -- rules in some communities allow that, but isn't lobbying for something similar in Denver. And neither would it put cyclists in a preeminent position on the roadways.
"There seems to be some confusion -- things we've seen on the Twitterverse and on Facebook, and heard talking to our members -- that with a yield-stop law in place, cyclists would have the right of way no matter what, and that if you rode on through an intersection, cars have to stop for you," he says. "But that's not the case. If there's someone else in the intersection and they got there before you, you have to yield the right of way and come to a complete stop before you proceed after they've gone on through.
"This law doesn't give cyclists special rights," he emphasizes. "It gives them the rights they need."
Continue for more about the cycling yield-stop concept.