Idaho Stop

In a midday open thread earlier this week at dailyKos, I learned about the above video advocating adoption of the Idaho bicycle model, which allows bike riders to treat stop signs as yield signs. The video itself, in addition to being informative and instructive on the topic, is a nice piece of graphic design.

When I first began using my bike for transport in college, I was a fairly rigid follower of traffic laws. The theory being that the only way for cyclists to gain respect on the road was to follow the same laws as automobiles. So at 4-way stops in residential neighborhoods without a car in sight, I would actually come to nearly a complete stop. And that sucked!

A trip to Amsterdam several years ago where I experienced their amazing cycling culture began to change my views. I knew our transportation system was organized around the car, but there I saw how it might be different. The trip was lead by an architecture professor whose research interests included how people negotiate for urban space, and how certain types of negotiation make for a richer urban experience. And what the Idaho stop law does is essentially legalize greater negotiation between cyclists and others.

These days I am much less concerned with following all traffic laws while on my bike, though I still believe there is truth to the theory that drivers would give cyclists more respect if they better followed the rules of the road. Which is why it is so important to have good laws, and the Idaho stop law is one of them.

So I agree with Kos that all states should adopt the Idaho bicyle model. Besides being more efficient for cyclists, it makes for a more interesting city - one that fosters greater interaction and communication among us, even if only in the glance of recognition at a stop sign.

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