Bill to Allow Cyclists to Roll Through Stop Signs Fails

A cyclist rides her bike down Market Street in San Francisco. (Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

A proposal to allow bikes to roll through intersections has come to a skidding stop -- for now.

AB 1103 would have let bicyclists treat stop signs like yield signs. On Monday, the measure stalled in an Assembly committee.

An unlikely duo brought the legislation: San Francisco Democrat Phil Ting and Republican Jay Obernolte, whose district lies in the Mojave Desert.

They are united by a belief that bicyclists would be safer if the law allowed what so many cyclists already do -- roll through stop signs.

"We're just trying to have the law reflect what happens in reality," Ting says. "People stop at stop signs when it's dangerous, and people don't stop at stop signs when it's empty and when it's clear."

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There's only one state where bikers can roll through stop signs: Idaho.

Bicycle injuries there dropped by 14.5 percent after the Legislature changed the law.

"There is no single measure that would promote bicycle safety more in California," says Obernolte.

Idaho isn't quite the same as California. But a UC Berkeley study compared Idaho's largest city -- Boise -- to similar cities in California and found that bicycling in Boise was 30 to 60 percent safer.

At Monday's hearing, Jason Meggs, who wrote the study, said that cyclists have more control when they keep up their momentum.

He added that the law encouraged more people to bike and led drivers to look out for cyclists. "When more people bicycle, each bicyclist individually is safer."

"We have a lot of data that says it's safer," says Obernolte. "I haven't seen any data that says that it's not as safe."

Sylvia Rees, an advocate with the California Council of the Blind, also testified at the hearing. She said she had been hit by a bicyclist who slowed down, saw that no cars were coming, "but neglected to see me, a blind woman, crossing in the crosswalk."

The American Automobile Association opposes the measure, as does the California Police Chiefs Association.

Supporters of the measure are holding off until next year when they plan to reintroduce the bill. They decided they needed more time to convince their fellow lawmakers.

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