Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Stop signs and spuds

Did you know that Idaho is super smart? How can a state be smart? By treating bicyclists as intelligent beings with something to do and somewhere to go. In Idaho, cyclists legally treat stop signs as yield signs.

Right here in Oceanside there has been a recent push among the police to harass cyclists when they make incomplete stops. The people who I know who've been stopped have not been wildly innattentive kids who run willy-nilly through stop signs just because they don't know any better. They have been responsible adults who have complete awareness of the danger inherent in being hit by a car. In fact, the ones I know are car drivers.

In one case, the rider who has dreadlocks was stopped on Pacific Street by a female officer. She made him sit on the curb for over ten minutes while she checked his - well, whatever they check. When she asked him where he was going, he told her he was on his way to work. She asked him how lucrative his line of work was. (I view that as innappropriate.) The fact is, that this guy is kind of a fixture around town and works at a prominant business. That makes me feel like this officer should get a better grip on the town she is supposed to be serving. She let him go without a ticket, but he was late for work.

Another case I know of is a guy who was riding along Pacific Street with a couple other cyclists and when they cruised through a stop sign, having checked out to see that it was clear, he was pulled over and ticketed. This guy has been riding for decades. He's experienced. At best, it is a technicality that he was guilty of. What he did was safe and sensible, causing inconvenience to no one. I would posit that the cops should avoid that kind of ticket giving practice until after they have enforced all the other laws. You know, the ones that protect us.

Now, back to Idaho: that kind of ticket is not given in Idaho. And that is not because the cops are busy trying to enforce all the laws that protect. It is because in Idaho, the law is set up to allow bicyclists to treat the stop sign as a yield sign. Boy, I like that! Idaho is a state that has aknowledged that stopping a bicycle unneccisarily impedes its progress to an unreasonable degree. Three other factors make this reasonable. 1. Bicyclists have excellent visibility and are traveling at speeds that allow for good use of that ability to see all around. 2. Bicyclists are naturally aware of the risk involved in unsafe entry into an intersection. 3. The size of a bicycle makes it less of a threat to others. That is not to say, in any of those reasons, that it is OK for a cyclist to be less than proper in traffic. Remember, the stop sign is not ignored, it is treated as a Yield sign. Cyclists who blow through stop signs recieve stiff fines in Idaho.

You go Idaho! I'm eating plenty taters to support youse guys.

Chuck Hoefer


  1. The way we are taught driving and the rules of the road has a lot do with our attitudes towards cyclists. The mantra that gets repeated over and over is that bicyclists must obey all the same rul;es of the road because they are equivalent to automobiles. Well, that's obsurd. It's a simplistic generalization. It is true that cyclists are safer when they act as vehicles upon the roadways and follow the same rules but they are not automobiles. I am not making a judgment as to which is better just that one is NOT the other. I certainly feel safer on the road when I follow the same rules of the road as cars and expect the same in return.
    I feel that MOST drivers are just plain incompetent lacking basic spatial skills to operate their own vehicles in a safe and professional manner. Licenses are handed out much too easily with little training or practicable expereince. Most view a drivers license as a "right" as opposed to a privilege. By the same token, many parents don't view teaching proper cycling skills as a necessary part of learning to ride a bike. Consequently, there are equally stupid drivers and cyclists on the streets each thinking the other is to blame for their stupid vehicle tricks.

  2. Fatmex,

    I agree and have been calling for a more meaningful driver test for years. What we have now is a joke. People take driving so casually and know nothing of the rules regarding cycles. That goes for bicycle riders as well as car drivers.

    Drivers of cars don't just think it is a "right". It is demonstrated day in and day out that they are immune from consequences that would result from their bad driving. There is no consequence if they violate, even blatently, other road users right of way and hurt or kill them.

    My next few pieces will center on some practices that I have found to help keep out of trouble with car drivers. It has worked so far.


  3. Hey, Chuck:

    are you going to admit that the great majority of cyclists are just off-duty motor-vehicle-drivers.
    As those m.v. are their primary source.
    Bikes are just a recreational source.
    Why else be S.D. of so much value.~
    There's those off-duty cyclists that can be so jealous of a on-duty cyclists bike. It turns into the felony issue, on the roads (no sic).

  4. What S.D. County needs is a bike shop that be owned by one whom only uses a bike for complete transportation.
    As such a person be a REAL biker/cyclist.
    No conflict-of-interest.
    The best (political & business) promotion, to cycling.
    Political -- being SANDAG, among other sources -- etc. Rather than just a local city council.