Dissembling To Get The Idaho Stop Law

Background Reading

  1. A person operating a bicycle or human-powered vehicle approaching a stop sign shall slow down and, if required for safety, stop before entering the intersection. After slowing to a reasonable speed or stopping, the person shall yield the right-of-way to any vehicle in the intersection or approaching on another highway so closely as to constitute an immediate hazard during the time the person is moving across or within the intersection or junction of highways, except that a person after slowing to a reasonable speed and yielding the right-of-way if required, may cautiously make a turn or proceed through the intersection without stopping.
  2. A person operating a bicycle or human-powered vehicle approaching a steady red traffic control light shall stop before entering the intersection and shall yield to all other traffic. Once the person has yielded, he may proceed through the steady red light with caution. Provided however, that a person after slowing to a reasonable speed and yielding the right-of-way if required, may cautiously make a right-hand turn. A left-hand turn onto a one-way highway may be made on a red light after stopping and yielding to other traffic.
  3. A person riding a bicycle shall comply with the provisions of section 49-643, Idaho Code.
  4. A signal of intention to turn right or left shall be given during not less than the last one hundred (100) feet traveled by the bicycle before turning, provided that a signal by hand and arm need not be given if the hand is needed in the control or operation of the bicycle.
[49-720, added 1988, ch. 265, sec. 209, p. 679; am. 2005, ch. 205, sec. 1, p. 615.]


Civil Obedience Protest

The protest against a police crackdown on cyclists who ride past stop signs has opened up an important discussion about equity, respect, and reasonable accommodation for all road users.


The first thing to understand is that cyclists are the ones who are clamoring for the right to travel on roadways alongside automobiles. They are the ones who each month hold a Critical Mass Ride which deliberately creates traffic jams by having their memberships ‘cork‘ street intersections long enough to impede normal traffic flow.

This stunt was a legal version of that ‘corking‘ activity. Nothing more, nothing less. It demonstrates only that more people traveling in the same area at the same time creates a ‘traffic jam‘. What is wrong-headed about the thinking here is that it is unilateral in nature.

Cyclists could care less about motor vehicle traffic flow, so long as it does not impede theirs. When the clamored for and got the right to have a designated lane for their use, they were appalled to discover that riding on these gloriously beautiful green ribbons of paint did not make them any faster than their automobile counterparts. Not if they followed the rules.

So they began to disregard the rules. They began treating ‘stop signs‘ as if they were ‘yield signs‘. But that did nothing to significantly increase their rates of travel. So they began holding ‘test lab races‘ to verify whether they could cross town in far less time than their motorist counterparts.

And more importantly this meant that ‘all traffic rules could be broken‘. It meant that you could place yourself at risk as a rider, and even pedestrians as you sliced through the crosswalks when you decided to ignore the ‘stop light‘.

What we have now is controlled chaos on the streets of the cities of America. Controlled chaos which emanates from cycling lanes which are more or less the hiding places where scofflaws launch their attacks against stalled traffic by ignoring ‘stop lights‘.

To make themselves more efficient they often exceed the speed limits along stretch of city blocks. And since they are riding without visible identification, there is nothing that even a red light camera can do to prevent their behavior.

When the get ticketed for their behavior it stings. They have begun to attempt to make the case that normal traffic laws are not really meant for them. In fact they have begun to focus on the use of the Idaho Stop Law to gain legal status for their behavior.

That law was intended to allow motorcyclists stuck at lights that their vehicles did not activate. But what cyclists want to do is use this obscure law to simply ignore traffic lights altogether. And since it works for lights, it should mean that even ‘stop signs‘ would no longer apply to them.

It is indeed a slippery slope. But of course the thing that really galls all the folks in cities who are riding home of a Friday night each month is that these same cyclists are willing to ‘cork intersections‘ during Critical Mass Rides to create the very same kinds of traffic stalling situations that they did during their recent ‘legal demonstration‘.

It Is Time To Tell Cyclists That Enough Is Enough



The Alley Cat Race behavior has already made it less likely that cyclists will obey the ‘pedestrian crosswalk‘ sanctity that they should. If cyclists are demanding three feet from motorists who are traveling parallel to them, how much more observant should they be when illegally slicing through a crosswalk filled with pedestrians?

They like automobiles, motorcycles and scooters are part of traffic. Their presence on the street creates as much delay as that of anyone else when it comes to negotiating intersections. That is the ‘grown up‘ version of the facts of life as they apply to vehicles.

If they want to travel without having to deal with other kinds of vehicles and those pesky pedestrians as well, then perhaps they should lobby not for bike lanes, but rather ‘bike superhighways‘. This way they could travel either above or below the traffic grid and never, ever have to stop.

The one problem I foresee is that pedestrians will want to use these venues as well. And we already know that bicycles and pedestrians do not mix well.

There Is A Slippery Slope

We know that whatever the law on the books drivers, pedestrians and cyclists tend to ‘bend‘ it. Nobody thinks that their quick glances to read their cellphone is really as dangerous as it is made to seem in public service announcements.

Further our brains tell us that our personal skills are well above average and so that no matter how many drinks we have consumed we are still in control of our faculties and our vehicle. In fact failing a special device to prevent inebriated drivers from actually entering their cars they will get behind the wheel or if bicycling swing a leg over the saddle and pedal off into the evening with an increased opportunity for personal injury.

An Idaho Stop Law will always give the cyclist or motorist the opportunity to argue that despite a collision their judgment was sound, it was the other guy who was really at fault. And should that other guy be a bicycle and not a car, things will get truly murky. Most defense lawyers would rather that you have been in a collision with a motor vehicle because you chances of escaping culpability are higher.