The Idaho Stop Law: Reviewing current bicycle laws in Idaho

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Victor Haskell is one of the many victims that has been involved in a fatal accident between a cyclist and a motor vehicle. As reported by The Idaho Statesman, on Sept. 27, 2013 in the early rainy morning, Haskell was riding his bicycle, near State and 30th Street, on his way home from work, when he was struck by a vehicle. It is believed Haskell was trying to avoid construction on the sidewalk, by riding his bicycle from the sidewalk into the pavement. Haskell’s body was found eight hours later in a hole in the sidewalk produced by the construction.

Misinterpreting bicycle laws may have detrimental effects, such as this fatal wreck. Being aware of the current Idaho Stop Laws could ensure safety between motorists and cyclists.

Gabe Finkelstein, the coordinator at the Cycle Learning Center at Boise State, explained more about the Idaho Stop Law.

As specified by Finkelstein, the current bicycle laws are similar to driving. The laws include riding on the right-hand side, riding in the lane so that you are visible, using hand signals and yielding to cars and pedestrians.

The Idaho Stop Law has been around for approximately twenty years, and Delaware has recently adopted the same law, according to Finkelstein.

“The law states both the stop sign and the stop light are downgraded. So, a stop sign is downgraded to a yield sign, a cyclist can roll up to a stop sign and if it’s clear, proceed. Also, they don’t have to stop,” Finkelstein said. “With a red light, it downgrades to a stop sign. The law states that they don’t need to put a foot down, but they need to slow the speed to a walking pace and proceed when clear.”

According to the National High Traffic Safety Administration, in 2015 there were 818 national fatalities that occurred with bicyclists. Additionally, the data shows in 2015, there have been an estimated 45,000 injuries with bicyclists. From 2006 until 2015, there have been a total of about  7,154 bicyclist fatalities.

This increase in bicyclist fatality statistics suggests it may be an essential moment to look closer into the current Idaho bicycle laws and safety concerns. Additionally, many might be unaware of the current bicycle laws in Idaho.

“A lot of students don’t know the laws, like on campus, it is kind of like a little bubble of Boise, but it’s not necessarily any different than the laws in town or in the state,” Finkelstein said. “There’s not a lot of enforcement of the laws, but at least having the education out there and asking people to be responsible is one thing we can do.”

Finkelstein concluded the overarching goal for bicycle educators is to share the road, to make sense of bicycle safety and to develop respect between cyclists and motorists.

Lisa Brady, president of the board at the Treasure Valley Cycling Alliance and director for the Treasure Valley Safe Routes to School Program, explained one of the biggest misconceptions about cyclists is that they don’t belong on the road.

“People don’t know you are considered a vehicle in the state of Idaho by the actual statutes,” Brady said. “If you pull the definitions out of state code, and if you look up ‘vehicle,’ a vehicle can be a bicycle, moped or a motorcycle. If you look at those definitions and start to understand them, then you can get a very clear picture of why people on bikes know that they do have a right to be on the road.”

According to Brady, motorists have a great responsibility to operate a vehicle in the correct manner.

“When you get up to an intersection, expect people to be there. People are crossing the road or biking. Streets are built for people, not just cars,” Brady said.

 

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