Bill Legalizing the Idaho Stop in California Waits for Governor's Signature

The Idaho Stop—allowing people on bikes to treat stop signs in empty intersections as yield signs—is gaining popularity around the country. Next (not quite) stop: California.

September 24, 2021, 8:00 AM PDT

By James Brasuell @CasualBrasuell


A group of cyclists rides on a green painted bike line on the Embarcadero in Sa Francisco.

People on bikes cruise the painted bike lane on the Embarcadero waterfront in San Francisco. | AsiaTravel / Shutterstock

California Assembly Bill 122, also known as the Safety Stop Bill, is awaiting Governor Gavin Newsom's signature after passing the State Legislature. The bill would legalize the "Idaho Stop"—or the practice of allowing people on bikes to treat stop signs as yield signs. The Idaho Stop is a favorite cause of bike safety advocates, who argue that keeping momentum through an intersection is often safer than stopping for people on bikes.

In a (paywalled) article on AB 122, Ricardo Cano provides background on the Idaho Stop and the legislation, noting that Idaho Stops are illegal, though many people on bikes already treat stop signs as yield signs.

"Under the bill, bicyclists approaching a stop sign would be allowed to instead treat it as a yield sign by slowing down and proceeding if it’s safe to do so and there are no pedestrians or car traffic approaching or entering the intersection," explains Cano.

"Lawmakers and supporters of AB122 say the bill would improve cyclists’ safety, encourage more people to ride bikes and bring state law up to speed with the behaviors and best practices already used by experienced cyclists."

According to Cano, "the bill passed both the state’s legislative chambers with strong support," but the bill has been waiting for the governor's signature since the beginning of the month. Newsom has until Oct. 10 to decide on the bills.

As also noted by Cano, "Two other traffic-related bills are awaiting a signature or veto from Newsom. The Legislature also passed AB43, which would give cities more flexibility in reducing speed limits, as well as AB1238, which removes fines and penalties for jaywalking when there are no cars present."

Washington was the most recent state to make the Planetizen newsfeed for legalizing the Idaho Stop, in September 2020.

Saturday, September 18, 2021 in San Francisco Chronicle

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