Cycling: Should Denver consider a yield-stop law?

Categories: Environment

Thumbnail image for usa pro cycling challenge racer.jpg
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."

ryan mccann.jpeg
Courtesy of BikeDenver
Ryan McCann.
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.

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.


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36 comments
tkspcl
tkspcl

I have a question - why not license all bikes? Small fee, based maybe on size or type of bike? I'm sure it's not that simple, but it seems to me if there was a way for all to be accountable, maybe we could all get along a little better on the roads. Wouldn't it be nice to have the plate number of a guy riding his bike down a busy sidewalk (where they shouldn't be in Denver) that you could report to the police? Just like reporting a motorist that was driving aggressively.

No driver or rider is perfect. Both sides have stories of others "bending" the law and almost or actually causing an accident, but I would like to think that a solution can be found 

Justin Spumoni
Justin Spumoni

And here's a great video explaining how this type of law works in reality: https://vimeo.com/4140910 I'm totally for it, and I'd love to hear arguments for and against something like that, rather than rants and vitriol against cyclists and cycling in general, which doesn't really lead to anything constructive.

Justin Spumoni
Justin Spumoni

Here's an interesting article about how roads are paid for: http://dc.streetsblog.org/2011/01/04/actually-highway-builders-roads-don%E2%80%99t-pay-for-themselves/ It's actually a myth that gas taxes pay for roads and the logic that cyclists should in someway "make up" for their lack of buying gasoline by taxing them extra, doesn't hold water. For example: many cyclists also own and drive cars. Are they to be taxed twice? What about people who purchase gas to be used on something other than an automobile? Or cyclists that ride bikes, but not on roads? This is Colorado: we do utilize mountain bikes. Who is to manage this new tax? Will the overhead of managing this type of thing make any actual tax revenue, after everything is settled? Is this really a tax on poor people? Some people who do not own cars, use the public transportation system. Those who cannot afford that, walk, or ride a bicycle. Would such a tax be fair to them? It's also an interesting idea to have cyclists be licensed and insured and some countries in Europe do this, but it comes with advantages towards cyclists: some countries where there are cyclist -> motor vehicle accidents will ALWAYS favor the cyclists and cyclists are covered with insurance for such matters. I'm again, all for that! ....going to the actual issue - perhaps it's best to get a better understanding of the idea: the change in law is to NOT allow cyclists to use all stop signs to yield, but only when there's no other traffic. This really rules out any stop-sign-as-yield for boulevards. Stop *lights* would still be seen as a dead stop, before you could travel through them, via bicycle.

hardi902
hardi902

I don't think I've ever seen a cyclist come to a stop at a stop sign. Putting this in place would just make it legal for cyclists to do what they've already been doing.

Kellie Lankutis
Kellie Lankutis

NOOO!!! They already cause problems by not obeying traffic laws. Drive in Boulder or Golden for one Saturday in the summer and you'll know exactly what I mean. P.S. when can we start taxing cyclists to use the roads?

SxPxDxCx
SxPxDxCx

Well since I see cars "yield stop" at stop signs all the time why not.  All these angry comments every time there is a post about bicycles are so laughable.  The posters make it seem like everyone driving a car around this town is following every traffic law and dictate that is on the books.  Well look in the mirror folks.

Drivers don't come to complete stops at stop signs.  Drivers don't always use their turn signals.  Most drivers seem utterly perplexed at what the function of a real Yield sign is.  God forbid one of those drivers come up on one of the multiple roundabouts that are popping up all over the city.  Don't get me started on drivers that can't be bothered to drive the posted speed limits. Drivers making left hand turns and not pulling into the left hand lane.....

Have any of you driven through the areas on I-25 or 6th Ave that have signs posted saying "STAY IN LANE NO PASSING"?  Seems like everytime I pass through those areas I see people changing lanes in those zones.  In case you didn't know your not supposed to cross over solid white lines painted on roadways whether there is a sign or not.

When every driver in this town can look me in the eye and say that they are all perfect drivers then you have some room to complain.  Otherwise spare me the false indignation.



Cognitive_Dissident
Cognitive_Dissident topcommenter

Why stop at bicycles? Tear out the stop signs everywhere and replace them with yield signs. Stop signs are merely a revenue producer for municipalities that want to catch you NOT coming to a full, rock-back stop.

tedwilkes
tedwilkes

Bicyclists are a nuisance. think they own the road and get super pissed if someone in a car does something that in their eyes is wrong. Nice outfits too, just wear some some athletic shorts and a t-shirt and not some skin tight atrocity with logos and advertisements all over it. YOU ARE NOT A PROFESSIONAL AND YOU CAN SEE HOW OUT OF SHAPE YOU ARE, NOT FLATTERING. TRUST ME. You heed to the big guys on the road, you know, automobiles, the ones that can KILL YOU. There are plenty of places to bicycle, stick to the ones that give you the most safety and where we don't have to see your attitude or your outfits

James David Gardner
James David Gardner

They should consider a yield stop law, but perhaps after a pilot project in the downtown area where the street design is such that it will be the least dangerous!

JimTom
JimTom topcommenter

It gives drivers the right to say he never stopped after running over cyclist.

JimTom
JimTom topcommenter

I'll just pause instead of stopping next time you ride in front of my car.

Chris Good Eagle
Chris Good Eagle

No, the intersections in denver are way to big with often many different lanes. Cyclists need to obey the stop signs also, for everyone's safety.

Mar Marcia
Mar Marcia

The real question should cyclist have to carry liability and health insurance? The cost of uninsured ER visits are crazy.

Justin Spumoni
Justin Spumoni

quote Matt Germaine Baca-Has: > Commence motorist vs cyclist argument....NOW! Naw, I'm just going to ride my bike. It's beautiful out.

Winston Varn
Winston Varn

I think there should be a lane specifically made for cyclist and mopeds in every state.

Matt Baca
Matt Baca

Commence motorist vs cyclist argument....NOW!

Aaron LeForce
Aaron LeForce

cyclists are a HUGE pain in the ass...law or no law, they will do as they please.

Jay Jurgens
Jay Jurgens

Is it really going to matter? While some cyclists are polite and use common sense I constantly see bicyclists doing what they want because they are hiding under pedestrian laws and extremely rude. God forbid someone says something to them are your harassing them. If you want to do something make them OBEY traffic laws and make them start paying road fees to pay for their riding areas

DonkeyHotay
DonkeyHotay topcommenter

Then why not make Yield-Stop the rule for Motorcycles ... or even Cars ?

Just implement the Italian driving system -- Noah Yield, Noah Stopa, Getta Outta My Waya



BikeWord
BikeWord

@Kellie Lankutis So...exactly what laws are they breaking? I've been to Boulder and visit Golden quite frequently--they're not doing anything much different from bicyclists here in Denver. Seriously, aside from rolling through stop signs...I'm extremely curios as to what laws are being broken that have you so concerned. 

Harvey
Harvey

You have never ridden a bike any great distance.  If you had, you'd know that tight fitting clothes, such as lycra, reduce or eliminate chafing.  And bright jerseys with logos, etc., serve to make the rider more visible to increasingly distracted drivers.  So you noticed.  That means it's working.  The fact that you call it "see your attitude" says more about you than anyone else.

BikeWord
BikeWord

@Matt Schaub HELLZ YES!

michael.roberts
michael.roberts moderator editortopcommenter

@Matt Schaub Succinctly put, Matt. Thanks for posting.

michael.roberts
michael.roberts moderator editortopcommenter

@Chris Good Eagle Interesting way of looking at the differences between Denver and the mountain communities where the law's been in place for a while. Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

rhondaleebaby69
rhondaleebaby69

"make them start paying road fees"   There are no "road fees" unless you're on a toll road.

BikeWord
BikeWord

@Jay Jurgens Is it going to matter? Yes. Honestly, to all the naysayers and haters...when was the last time you rode a bicycle?? If that thought sounds too absurd for you to comprehend then what gives you the right to assert such opinions? To those that do ride a bicycle, how often do you seriously come to full and complete stop? Think about it and be honest.

Most bicyclists out there also own a car, have a license, and pay property taxes. In no way should this be a car vs bike issue. We are ALL on the same team, use the same roads, and, under law, are required to SHARE THE ROAD...Rather than complaining about bicyclists so much, how about offer some solutions (like the one Westword is reporting on)? Make bicyclists pay road fees for our "riding areas?" You do realize these, "riding areas" are on public roads...unless you are referring to a magical space I'm unaware of. And, as I pointed out above, bicyclists already pull their weight w/ regard to taxes.

"Make" bicyclists "obey traffic laws." Oh you are so wise Jay! Exactly how you gonna "make" this happen when automobiles are not better and have been around A LOT longer. In fact, I see more drivers screaming at each other than I see bicyclists yelled at. And no matter who you are, when you are yelled at or hear something not so nice directed at you...it's a bit hard to be cordial. It's taken me some time getting used to comments directed at me and being able to smile, give a thumbs up (instead of the bird), and (shocker) listen & consider what the person has said to me. If I'm in the wrong, call me out (I even do this when I see fellow bicyclists flagrantly disregarding laws). But if I'm not...please don't waste my time or go out of your way to ruin my day. 

A stop-yield law is proven to improve safety and will help DPD save money/time. Is it really necessary to waste valuable resources enforcing a law that doesn't improve safety and does little to deter bicyclists from doing so in the future? I think not. Pedestrians have special laws protecting them (crosswalk), by law we provide right of way to emergency responders, we are even required by law to yield right of way to RTD buses re-entering the roadway--and this is just a small sampling! Why is it so absurd to provide bicyclists additional (helpful & safe) laws when we have afforded the same to automobiles and pedestrians for over half a century now? 

michael.roberts
michael.roberts moderator editortopcommenter

@Jay Jurgens Passionately put, Jay. We're going to make your post an upcoming Comment of the Day. Thanks.

Juan_Leg
Juan_Leg

@Jay Jurgens   I use the paths off peak hours,  to wheel-chair w/ my dog daily . Let's say MAYBE 1/2 dozen times have I encountered a rude cyclist . I know it's a totally different world down town and on the Hill, and I've observed some real pricks who have acted 'privileged' when it comes to the streets and sidewalks .

I personally would love to see a MAJOR resurgence in alternative transportation means like bicycles and such . Of course this is coming from a cripple who'd be more than content merely walking ...

tedwilkes
tedwilkes

Not really Harvey, I have seen multiple occasions when bicyclists will go out of their way to chase down an automobile and yell at them or chastise them. Do car drivers do that? No, we just tolerate your elitist attitude (there's that word again) and move on. Bicyclists are self centered and seem to think they have a sense of entitlement to which I don't understand. You are bikes, on the street, with cars. Figure it out. I was just giving my opininion Harvey, way to get personal in your rebuttal. I suppose that says more about you than you would think?

tedwilkes
tedwilkes

Whoever would waste half a beer by throwing it a biker is just as big a clown as the biker he/she is throwing it at. I do not at all condone throwing beer at bikers, definitely should be consumed. Obey laws and don't act like you own the road and maybe you won't see so much of that. Bottom line: cars vs bikes = cars win. You put your own life on the line when you act pretentious, presumptious, and elitist. Stop it and maybe you will stop getting beer (God forbid) thrown at you.

rhondaleebaby69
rhondaleebaby69

"I have seen multiple occasions when bicyclists will go out of their way to chase down an automobile and yell at them or chastise them. Do car drivers do that?"   No, they just throw empty (or half full) beer cans at cyclists and lay on the horn as they pass within 6 inches of your handlebars.

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