There’s been significant gnashing of teeth and grinding of gears in San Francisco over the controversial, so-called “Idaho stop” — the practice of bicycles yielding instead of hard stopping at intersections with stop signs. Here locally in San Francisco, the Board of Supervisors originally approved rolling stops for bicycles in September 2015, was quickly vetoed by Mayor Lee, and did not have the votes to override Lee’s veto.
But now that veteran of those Idaho stop debates Scott Wiener has moved on up to the California state legislature, he’s taken the fight for Idaho stops statewide. Rebranding the practice with a new (and perhaps sushi-inspired?) name “California roll,” Wiener serves as the principal co-author of a pro-Idaho stop bill introduced by San Francisco assemblyman Phil Ting and southern California assemblyman Jay Obernolte
It’s called AB 1103, and it’s still just in the committee phase. Assembly Bill 1103 proposes to “authorize a person operating a bicycle approaching a stop sign, after slowing to a reasonable speed and yielding the right-of-way, to cautiously make a turn or proceed through the intersection without stopping, unless safety considerations require otherwise.” Naturally, the bill is opposed by the California Police Chiefs Association, and also AAA.
Former SF Bay Guardian editor Steven T. Jones chimes in on Human Streets the Idaho stop/California roll “can benefit motorists by making intersections more efficient and predictable and encouraging cyclists to use stop-sign-strewn side streets and avoid congested arterials.”
Advocates for changing the stop sign laws for bicyclists pretty routinely point to a 2010 UC Berkeley study called Bicycle Safety and Choice: Compounded Public Cobenefits of the Idaho Law Relaxing Stop Requirements for Cycling. “Intersections are the most dangerous zone for cyclists, whose safety benefits from the freedom to choose the safest time to clear, and to do so more quickly,” writes author Jason Meggs. “Bicyclists enjoy vastly superior abilities to perceive and execute a safe yield at a stop than other modes, and great incentive to do so safely. Exposure to harmful pollutants which accrue at intersections is also reduced.”
Again, this bill is still just in an Assembly Transportation Committee. It is not before a full state assembly vote, it is not on the governor’s desk, and it may not even make it of committee. But the Assembly Transportation Committee will be debate AB1103 at 2:30 p.m. today, with an audio livestream available online.
Related: How To Ride A Bike In San Francisco