Who knows what it means to perform an “Idaho Stop”? No, it does not mean stopping for farm equipment or a giant load of potatoes, but I can’t blame you for thinking that initially. The “Idaho Stop” is actually a term that applies to bikers, named after Idaho became the first state (and still one of the few) to pass a law allowing bikers to treat stop signs as yield signs and red lights as stop signs when safe to do so.
All the way back in 1982, which I am sure was a simpler time full of neon clothing and large hair, Idaho updated many of their traffic laws and in doing so made it legal for bicycle riders to essentially do what they were already doing. As anyone who has ridden a bike can tell you, stop signs are the enemy of a smooth ride and are often treated as a yield sign when safe to do so, regardless of the actual law. Now, if you spend most of your time in a car, which I really hope you reconsider, it may seem a little unfair or confusing for bikers to be following a different set of rules than those in big metal contraptions of pollution and death. This argument, as it happens, is the main one of those against more widespread implementation of this law, along with saying that that confusion will lead to more accidents and injuries. Lucky for us, the data from Idaho after implementing the new law supports that it is actually safer. In fact, in the year after Idaho implemented the law there was a 14% decrease in the number of bicycle accidents with no change in fatalities, and when compared to similar cities, the new law made Idaho about 30% safer for bicyclists. [Meggs, Jason N. “Bicycle Safety and Choice: Compounded Public Cobenefits of the Idaho Law Relaxing Stop Requirements for Cycling”. Retrieved 20 October 2019]
Idaho passed this law all the way back in 1982 and the scientific data supports that it has made bicyclists safer (the law allows them to more readily become and stay visible to other vehicles). Surely that means it is now the norm everywhere else in the country right? If you think that, you would be wrong. Unfortunately, it seems as though emotion and feelings can win out compared to hard data when it comes to many policies. Delaware is the only other state to have passed this law in 2017, although some small towns and communities have passed similar laws. And that is what I want to discuss today. Colorado passed a statewide resolution in 2018 that allows cities to adopt uniform language implementing the “Idaho Stop” except for on state highways. However, the law must be adopted by each city council, and thus far only Thornton has done so. I would really like that to change and am adding a new goal to my list. I’m going to begin pushing for my Denver City Council representative to consider the “Idaho Stop”, or “Safety Stop” as it is called in Colorado. Step one will be to write an open letter that I am hoping to get published in my local newsletter, in which the City Councilman is an active contributor. From there I will hopefully be able to reach out directly to the Councilman and begin a conversation regarding next steps.
I’m interested to hear what you all think and would love for any input on your concerns or support for this law.
My goal of finishing the drywall installation by 10/13 is slightly behind schedule, as I have all of the drywall mud applied and sanded, but won’t finish applying primer or paint until next weekend. I was slowed down by some lower temperatures slowing down the mud dry times, but still feel encouraged that the drywall will be painted by the end of this week.