Anyone who has watched a cyclist approaching an intersection will observe that there is an apparent belief in the cycling community that actually bringing the bike to a stop and putting ones foot on the road to keep the bike from falling over is something to be avoided at all costs—the ultimate fail. Now the Hamilton Cycling Committee wants the practice enshrined in law, with the legalization of something called an “Idaho stop,” which in fact is not a stop, but allows the cyclist to continue through the stop sign as if it were a yield sign.
A motion from the Cycling Committee asks Hamilton Council to “correspond with the province to encourage the enactment of a law where cyclists can yield at stop signs, known as an “Idaho” stop.” According to the Committee, “stop signs as they currently exist are designed only with motorists in mind, providing an unnecessary hinderance to cyclists where no significant danger exists, while a danger could possibly exist for an automobile. The average speed of bicycles is much slower than automobiles as well with far less mass. A compact automobile has a weight of 1400kg, while most bicycles with a person on them weigh around 100kg. Bicycles also have far fewer blind spots and far more maneuverability than automobiles.” The report goes on the suggest that stopping is actually more dangerous than not stopping. “The Idaho Stop has been found to increase intersection safety as well, allowing cyclists to keep momentum rather than crossing an intersection at a slower pace. Places where this policy is implemented have universally seen a reduction in collisions through traffic studies.”
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