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Bicyclists could roll through stop signs under new CA bill

A new bill could allow bicyclists to roll through stop signs if passed.
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Cyclists may be able to roll through California intersections without stopping if a new bill is made into law according to the San Diego Union Tribune.

A bill proposed this past Friday by Assemblymen Jay Obernolte, R-Hesperia, and Phil Ting, D-San Francisco, would allow bicyclists to treat stops signs as yield signs and pass through intersections without stopping only if it is safe to do so.

Some in the community think this is a good idea because cyclists stopping then starting slows there momentum and getting back up to speed increases their risk of being involved in an accident.

Under the new law, cyclists would still need to stop at red lights.

Obernolte, an avid bike rider himself told the Tribune that “It’s pretty compelling that the data supports this kind of change in the law. Their loss of momentum causes them to spend a substantially longer amount of time in the intersection.”

He adds that the bill is written to be intentionally vague because it is up to the rider to decide whether or not to roll through.

Idaho is the only state which currently allows cyclists to pause at stop signs and they have reported less injuries sustained from bike-related accidents.

The San Diego Sheriff’s department weighed in on the issue, saying they are unsure if a “roll through” law for cyclists would help or hinder them.

“It’s similar to any traffic violation. It’s dependent to the area if there are serious safety concerns,” said sheriff’s department spokesman Ryan Keim. “But our No. 1 priority is safety for bicyclists and motorists.”

The Tribune reports that 1,625 traffic citations were written to cyclists between January 2015 and May 2016. Of those, 526 were violations for stopping and yielding traffic laws and another 79 were handed out for disobeying traffic “device or sign,” although it is unclear which of those infractions resulted from stop lights or stop signs.

Hillcrest was poised to add even more bike lanes to their streets, but due to back-and-forth with cyclists, SANDAG and bike lane opponents, those modifications have seemingly sided with motorists.

Circulate San Diego, an organization which brings awareness and advocates for change to traffic safety and saving lives created “Vision Zero”  to end traffic deaths and injuries along San Diego’s most frequented roadways by 2025.

A report taken by "Vision Zero" between 2004 and 2013 shows there were 15 severe or fatal collisions on University Ave between Park and Falcon; three were bicycle related.

Fifty-three percent of all accidents reported took place at an intersection. 

Joel West, an Oceanside resident and community transportation helper, said the new law would be dangerous because people would not slow down. Instead they blow through stop signs because they can.

“Before I was slowing down enough so it kind of looked like I was taking it seriously,” he said. “But if I get to decide what is a reasonable speed, I am going to go through faster than ever before.”

Colorado is considering a similar roll through law. 

Arizona, Montana, Oregon and Minnesota have proposed similar legislation in the past.