Ideas

The 'Idaho Stop' and Why Some Cyclists Disobey Stop Signs

There's a good reason cyclists want to conserve momentum, particularly when there are no other vehicles around.

By Adrian Duyzer
Published November 16, 2011

On November 7, the Cycling Committee of the City of Hamilton submitted recommendations to the Public Works Department for changes to Ontario's traffic legislation. They wanted these recommendations to be detailed in a letter and sent to the Ontario Ministry of Transportation (MTO).

One of the recommendations was to develop legislation "to permit an 'Idaho stop' style traffic control for cyclists". An 'Idaho stop' is so-called because of a 1982 law passed in Idaho that permits, in essence, cyclists to treat stop signs like yield signs.

This recommendation was rejected by Public Works and subsequently panned in the media. "Let’s face it, with or without an Idaho stop-style law, blowing through stop signs with nothing more than a quick precautionary glance is already standard behaviour for most cyclists," wrote Andrew Dreschel in a Spectator column.

Or take Scott Thompson's column a day later (it doesn't appear to be online). Citing an "ongoing battle between cyclist and motor vehicle," Thompson wrote it is an "illusion to think bike lanes alone will work without enforcement of laws, licensing and possibly insurance" - conveniently ignoring an entire continent, Europe, which is home to 100 million unlicensed, uninsured cyclists.

Addressing the Idaho stop proposal specifically, Thompson wrote it meant that "if the intersection is clear of vehicles, no need to stop, just blow on through." But what, exactly, is an Idaho stop? Is it true it lets you just "blow through" stop signs?

The law in question is Idaho Statutes Title 49, Chapter 7, Section 720, and the relevant parts are the first two:

49-720. STOPPING -- TURN AND STOP SIGNALS. (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.

Note that this does not say cyclists can "blow through stop signs", i.e. travel through them quickly and recklessly. The law actually says that cyclists must slow down to a reasonable speed and, if required for safety, stop when they come to a stop sign.

In an interesting balancing act, the law also mandates that cyclists "shall yield the right-of-way to any vehicle in the intersection or approaching on another highway". If I'm reading that correctly, that means that after slowing down and exercising appropriate caution, if there is another vehicle at the intersection the cyclist must stop and yield the right-of-way to that vehicle.

But why do cyclists dislike stop signs in the first place? An excellent article entitled Why Bicyclists Hate Stop Signs explains (note: I have converted imperial measurements to metric):

Bicyclists can work only so hard. The average commuting rider is unlikely to produce more than 100 watts of propulsion power, or about what it takes to power a reading lamp. At 100 watts, the average cyclist can travel about 20 km/h on the level. When necessary, a serious cyclist can generate far more power than that (up to perhaps 500 watts for a racing cyclist, equivalent to the amount used by a stove burner on low). But even if a commuter cyclist could produce more than a 100 watts, she is unlikely to do so because this would force her to sweat heavily, which is a problem for any cyclist without a place to shower at work.

With only 100 watts' worth (compared to 100,000 watts generated by a 150-horsepower car engine), bicyclists must husband their power. Accelerating from stops is strenuous, particularly since most cyclists feel a compulsion to regain their former speed quickly. They also have to pedal hard to get the bike moving forward fast enough to avoid falling down while rapidly upshifting to get back up to speed.

For example, on a street with a stop sign every 90 meters, calculations predict that the average speed of a 150-pound (68 kg) rider putting out 100 watts of power will diminish by about forty percent. If the bicyclist wants to maintain her average speed of 20 km/h while still coming to a complete stop at each sign, she has to increase her output power to almost 500 watts. This is well beyond the ability of all but the most fit cyclists.

The article goes on to describe how car commuters tend to avoid residential streets with many stop signs, preferring thoroughfares with signalized intersections instead. The absence of cars on these residential streets thus makes them prime choices for designated bike routes, but because of the physical factors just described, cyclists don't like those streets either.

That is, they don't like them unless they can roll through stop signs. A cyclist who rolls through a stop sign at 8 km/h needs 25 percent less energy to return to a speed of 16 km/h than one who comes to a complete stop. Nor is this behaviour unsafe: cyclists have much better awareness of their surroundings than drivers, and it is easy for them to come to a quick stop if they must.

So there are sensible reasons why many cyclists treat stop signs with less than total respect. This apparently enrages drivers (at least, the ones who don't also cycle), which is rather hypocritical, since drivers don't obey stop signs either.

Park a lawn chair at any residential intersection and watch the cars go by, and you'll notice the majority don't come to a full stop. Each day I cycle to and from work I witness a multitude of traffic infractions: cars parked in the no-stopping zone by my son's school; cars parked in the bike lanes on Dundurn; and hundreds of drivers streaming by on Main Street in excess of the posted speed limit.

This is such common knowledge that two days after his article about cyclists "blowing through" stop signs, Dreschel followed up with a nice piece entitled Motorists are just as bad as cyclists.

He's right about that, and we all know it. That said, consider that each year in Hamilton about a dozen pedestrians are killed by drivers, not cyclists. That's partly simple physics (cars are heaver and travel faster), but it's also because we design our streets for cars, not cyclists or pedestrians.

Drivers who claim an Idaho stop law would be special treatment for cyclists can hardly escape the fact they have an entire road network built for them, with cyclists as an afterthought.

But instead of pointing out each others' faults, we could take a reasonable approach and decide that if most citizens disobey a law and no appreciable harm results, it's time to reconsider it.

As we've seen, there's a good reason cyclists want to conserve momentum, particularly when there are no other vehicles around. It's not easy muscling 200 pounds of flesh and steel down the road. But the benefits are substantial: decreased carbon emissions, less traffic congestion, and citizens who are healthier and live longer, saving all of us thousands in health care costs.

So why not cut cyclists a break and adopt innovative legislation that has proven to be effective, and safe, in other regions?

Adrian Duyzer is an entrepreneur, business owner, and Associate Editor of Raise the Hammer. He lives in downtown Hamilton with his family. On Twitter: adriandz

49 Comments

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By David Huntsman (anonymous) | Posted November 17, 2011 at 03:50:06

It's worth noting that while the 'STOP' sign is not exactly unique to the USA, many countries use roundabouts to slow (but not stop) traffic at intersections. The notion that a complete stop is necessary at each and every crossroads is a bit pedantic.

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By theninjasquad (registered) - website | Posted November 17, 2011 at 10:42:19 in reply to Comment 71316

This is quite true... I spent a few months living in Sweden and you could literally drive around the entire town and not have to stop once as everything was just yields and roundabouts. This was terrific at the time as I was learning to drive stick. But for cyclists it was even better.

I think if a lot of people tried riding their bikes in Hamilton they would realize some of the challenges that we face. Granted Hamilton is making a lot of progress and I applaud the city for their push to put in bike lanes and cycling routes. We're getting there, but having an Idaho stop law would have been great.

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By David Numan (anonymous) | Posted November 17, 2011 at 08:55:18

I recall cycling down Hess street once and came to an intersection at the same time as three other cyclists in each direction. It was flawless. We all continued on straight hardly slowing down, simply aware of each other as we navigated the intersection at the same time.

In my experience cyclists are generally far more aware than drivers. In the last few years as a pedestrian i have dodged stopped cars about to turn into a street at least 10 times. One-way traffic means drivers often only think to look in one direction.

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By why auto drivers hate bikes (anonymous) | Posted November 19, 2011 at 15:16:17 in reply to Comment 71321

So you are proud that 4 cyclists approached an intersection at the same time and all 4 decided to break the law and simply run the stop signs. Imagine the outrage if 4 cars did the same thing.

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By Kiely (registered) | Posted November 17, 2011 at 10:07:45 in reply to Comment 71321

In my experience cyclists are generally far more aware than drivers.

People are people, simply being a cyclist does not make anyone more aware. There are more cars, so there appears to be more car driving idiots... if there were more bikes the opposite would probably be true.

These cyclist versus car debates always seem to become a battle of absolutes and hyperbole from both sides. In my experience if you give people a set of wheels, whether a car, bike, skateboard or roller blades, some people will do stupid shit with them.

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By awareness (anonymous) | Posted November 17, 2011 at 11:44:32 in reply to Comment 71330

There is some truth to cyclists being "more aware" though. With nothing shielding the sound and view of their surroundings, and with their heads often a foot or two higher than car drivers, cyclists have much more information available to them than drivers who are separated from the outside world by glass and metal pillars -- and who often have the radio playing.

So the same person with the same capability of awareness would actually be "more aware" on a bike since they have more information coming in.

Obviously this doesn't account for he fringe cases - cyclists with headphones on and professional drivers, etc :-)

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By Ryan (registered) - website | Posted November 17, 2011 at 12:29:05 in reply to Comment 71348

Not only that, but compared to an automobile, a bicycle can stop on a dime if necessary.

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By roadrash (registered) - website | Posted November 17, 2011 at 11:33:19

I have ridden the roads of Hamilton and the surrounding areas for more than 20 years now - competitively, recreationally, and as a commuter. I speak as a cyclist first and a driver a distant second.

And I am sorry, but this is CRAP. If cyclists want to be treated with the same respect on the road as every other vehicle - both by drivers and by legislators - they they need to obey the traffic laws. Period. You don't see an "idaho stop" by bike commuters in European cities, and you don't see cars running those same cyclists off the road either. The two go hand in hand. Cyclists plan their route to take advantage of roundabouts and flyovers where possible and otherwise obey the rules.

North American cyclists need to stop looking for legislators to treat them as a special case, and need to start fighting for equal treatment instead. We don't need to be marginalized nor pandered to - we need to be elevated to EQUALS.

There should be zero tolerance for drivers who do not share the road properly and give cyclists the same space and respect as any other vehicle. And there should also be zero tolerance for cyclists who disobey the laws that govern everyone - especailly the big three sins in Hamilton: Riding the wrong way on one-way streets, riding on the sidewalk, and rolling through stop signs.

Cyclists have the same rights on the road by law. If we want that to be respected and supported, we need to play by the rules.

(edited to correct a couple of horrid typos)

Comment edited by roadrash on 2011-11-17 12:04:57

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By nickpas (registered) | Posted November 26, 2011 at 17:05:49 in reply to Comment 71346

I lived in Lund, Sweden for six months in 2008. From my observations, it was one of the few European societies that fully embraces regulation in principle. And I mean the people, not just the government. For instance, liquor stores are government owned, drinking age is 21, outlets close at 3PM Saturdays and don't open Sundays— and this is largely supported by a population who view controlling alcoholism as a main priority.

Considering this, cycling culture in Sweden is a very interesting divergence. I biked everywhere in those six months and from my experience, the driving culture was that to always yield to cyclists—even when the vehicle technically had the right-of-way. This is because Sweden's cyclist are notorious rule breakers! As such, it has become part of the driving culture to expect this. This may infuriate some Canadian drivers (and apparently some cyclists) for it's inherent "inequity" between the two modes of transport. And it is not equal. Nor should it be. Cyclists are doing a tremendous service to our transportation system, environment, healthcare budgets, urban liveability, etc. And maybe this could explain why the normally law-abiding Swede turns a blind eye to bicycle infractions.

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By Pxtl (registered) - website | Posted November 21, 2011 at 13:18:58 in reply to Comment 71346

We're not looking to break the rules. We're looking to have the rules changed to accommodate the different handling and perspective of a cyclist. At the very least I'd like such signs located on common cycling corridors throughout the city, if not everywhere.

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By why auto drivers hate bikes (anonymous) | Posted November 19, 2011 at 15:18:17 in reply to Comment 71346

Finally a cyclist who gets it. Hats of to you.

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By Tomgreenthumb (registered) | Posted November 17, 2011 at 19:19:07 in reply to Comment 71346

Agreed! Follow the rules and the city and the community will respect you and support you.

And what kind of a lame argument is the "oh, woe, we use more energy if we have to stop"?? So?? We are cycling, we expect and enjoy the effort! The lazy cyclist angle?? Spare us!

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By David Huntsman (anonymous) | Posted November 17, 2011 at 20:16:08 in reply to Comment 71376

What you are missing is that the rule may not be a valuable one.

And, no, anyone's common sense says many non-cyclists might start riding if it was more convenient to ride.

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By David Huntsman (anonymous) | Posted November 17, 2011 at 18:18:22 in reply to Comment 71346

Roadrash, a problem with your position is the notion of cyclists needing "respect" from motorists. That begs the question of whether motorists are the rightful gatekeepers to the public space we refer to as roads. That's certainly not the case!

The law is the gatekeeper, and we are discussing the value of a traffic law that, Idaho has determined, is not one that should automatically be applied to all rightful users of the road.

There are many examples of disparate but sensible differences in the legal requirements of cyclists on the road compared to motorists. Minimum speed laws come to mind. And minimum separation requirements. And, obviously, licensing, registration and insurance requirements. Why? Because the operation of a bicycle is different than the operation of a motor vehicle.

So, there is no need for "equality" insofar as operational requirements are concerned. Sensibility is the better goal.

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By jason (registered) | Posted November 17, 2011 at 15:06:14 in reply to Comment 71346

I agree with you, BUT our road network is already built. Do we have a better chance at bike yield signs, OR completely rebuilding our entire road network so that it's not 100% for cars?

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By Ryan (registered) - website | Posted November 17, 2011 at 12:32:40 in reply to Comment 71346

North American cyclists need to stop looking for legislators to treat them as a special case

None of the jurisdictions that enjoy high levels of cycling got there through what you're proposing. The proven way to make a place bicycle-friendly is to decide, from a policy perspective, that cycling is desirable and even preferable and to go ahead and design the physical and regulatory environment accordingly so that people are encouraged to choose cycling over other modes (chiefly driving).

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By caroline.c (registered) | Posted November 17, 2011 at 17:04:07 in reply to Comment 71355

No, I think that is exactly what he is saying. You treat cyclists and equals and encourage them to use the road that way - as equals, with the same rights and the same responsibilities.

Follow the rules the same as other vehicles, and in exchange get the same rights and protection as other vehicles in the eyes of the law.

It only makes sense. Same rights, same rules. That is the best way

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By adrian (registered) | Posted November 17, 2011 at 18:32:40 in reply to Comment 71370

So should cyclists be allowed to ride on the 403, QEW, and the 401?

EDIT: I see I'm getting some downvotes here, but my basic point is that we already have different traffic laws for motorists and cyclists. The prohibition against cyclists on major highways is just one of them. People who want "equal laws" are missing the point, the laws are already inequal, and for good reason - there are obvious and reasonable differences between bicycles and cars.

Comment edited by administrator adrian on 2011-11-18 14:10:48

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By roller (anonymous) | Posted November 18, 2011 at 13:16:17 in reply to Comment 71374

And since cars get away with more rolling stops than bicycles already (from a pure numbers standpoint), then the idaho stop should be put into place if we are all going to be judged by the same rules.

I will gladly put my foot in my mouth when the number of motorists who come to a complete legal stop at an empty intersection surpasses two percent. Ditto for those turning right on reds.

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By jason (registered) | Posted November 19, 2011 at 16:38:58 in reply to Comment 71420

ain't this the truth. I've yet to see a single car stop at the stop sign at the end of my block.

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By special laws (anonymous) | Posted November 17, 2011 at 11:50:55 in reply to Comment 71346

We have different laws already for different road users. Why is it inappropriate to have subsets of laws for vastly different vehicles? Your rant makes little sense.

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By Undustrial (registered) - website | Posted November 17, 2011 at 14:20:24

As a regular cyclist, I can tell you that obeying all of the laws 100% of the time is often much more antagonistic to drivers than taking a few liberties, and stop signs are certainly one of those instances. Having a bicycle stop for every sign sounds great to most drivers - until they're stuck behind a bike in traffic. The 'Idaho Stop' has a lot of potential to bring more clarity to the issue as well as help provide a swifter and smoother 'flow' of traffic. At these kinds of speeds, confusion is just about the riskiest factor you can introduce on anyone's part.

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By SpaceMonkey (registered) | Posted November 17, 2011 at 17:27:30

I see nothing wrong with an Idaho stop. Unless two or more vehicles (car or bike) are approaching an intersection at roughly the same time, and sight lines are good, I don't see the need for a car or bike to come to a complete stop.

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By roadrash (registered) - website | Posted November 17, 2011 at 18:23:07 in reply to Comment 71371

If there were no need to come to a stop at that intersection, then the municipal traffic department would put a Yield sign there. Or leave it an uncontrolled intersection. Stop signs are there for a reason. Money is spent on examining and monitoring intersections and the signs there are placed based on hard data.

Don't forget, a lot of time the reason for that stop sign is pedestrian control and safety. Cyclists are always watching for cars, but the majority of urban cycling collisions in North America are between cyclists and pedestrians at intersections.

We aren't the only alternative commuters. But we do get to use the road, so we should follow the rules.

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By Pxtl (registered) - website | Posted November 21, 2011 at 13:21:14 in reply to Comment 71373

Have you ever seen a fully uncontrolled intersection in the City of Hamilton? Or a 4-way intersection marked with a yield sign?

The city has stuck to the stop sign as a convention because it's safe and simple. Which is fine.

But it may be too simple. Sometimes things need to be a little more complicated... like "if there's nobody else at this intersection and you're a low-speed vehicle, you can probably roll through here without stopping completely".

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By moylek (registered) - website | Posted November 21, 2011 at 16:41:10 in reply to Comment 71484

Have you ever seen a fully uncontrolled intersection in the City of Hamilton? Or a 4-way intersection marked with a yield sign?

Yes, I know of at least two of the former. One is Dalewood and Haddon in West Hamilton.

I love travelling these intersections, whether driving or biking: I love the idea that sometimes, when it's safe and otherwise appropriate, we're left to work things out for ourselves.

Comment edited by moylek on 2011-11-21 16:43:52

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By Pxtl (registered) - website | Posted November 23, 2011 at 13:14:50 in reply to Comment 71492

One is Dalewood and Haddon in West Hamilton

I meant a 4-way. A T-intersection is not uncontrolled because it's functionally a yield-sign for the bottom of the T.

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By moylek (registered) - website | Posted November 24, 2011 at 08:34:42 in reply to Comment 71559

I meant a 4-way. A T-intersection is not uncontrolled because it's functionally a yield-sign for the bottom of the T.

Fair enough. But I still enjoy the chance to show that we can sometimes get by on common-sense and courtesy rather than hard-and-fast rules.

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By Undustrial (registered) - website | Posted November 17, 2011 at 22:33:48 in reply to Comment 71373

Money is spent on examining and monitoring intersections and the signs there are placed based on hard data.

I've got to take issue with any notion which hold's the city's traffic planning bureaucracy to be rational, empirical or evidence-based.

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By SpaceMonkey (registered) | Posted November 17, 2011 at 19:05:24 in reply to Comment 71373

You don't read carefully do you?

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By Randy (registered) | Posted November 18, 2011 at 10:47:18

Cyclists are more like pedestrians than they are drivers. I even made a unscientific chart to prove it: http://opirgmcmaster.blogspot.com/2008/0...

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By Undustrial (registered) - website | Posted November 18, 2011 at 12:42:10

Two notes about the physics involved.

a) Adrian's post is absolutely correct. "Breaking inertia" below 5km/h takes an extraordinary amount of energy compared to maintaining a cruising speed. That's why you can duct tape a stopped car to a tree with 1-3 wraps and totally prevent it from driving off, but can't stop a moving car with a foot or two thick wall of duct tape (Mythbusters). Cars use a lot of gasoline doing this and cyclists use a lot of energy, meaning that anything that anything which safely eliminates full stops (roundabouts, Idaho Stops etc) can save a lot of time and energy for everybody.

b) To put things in perspective, a car which is ten times the mass of a cyclist/bike and travelling at twice the speed will hit a fixed object with forty times the cyclist's energy. Force is mass times the square of speed, after all, meaning that cars can do many times the damage and require far more stopping distance.

Suggesting that cyclists be licensed or heavily policed because of the rules applied to cars because of their inherent dangers is like arguing that all owners of baseball bats, rocks and slingshots be required to get FACs, since after all, it's not fair to gun owners that they can have unregistered weapons. Or perhaps it's more like putting everybody's university tuition up to the level of doctors and lawyers, since it isn't fair to them that others can work with less years of expensive training. Whichever way you look at it, it's absurd. We've catered to the highest common denominator far too long here.

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By elbiot (anonymous) | Posted February 21, 2012 at 17:56:49 in reply to Comment 71416

btw, the article says it takes 25% less energy to speed up from 8 km/hr rather than stopped to 16km/hr. I think the author means 25% OF the energy, which is 75% less. right? because velocity is squared when computing energy, so twice the speed involves 4x the energy.

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By sanity (anonymous) | Posted November 18, 2011 at 13:21:31 in reply to Comment 71416

Thanks you! Finally some sanity. Your baseball metaphor is apt beyond belief

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By Ryan (registered) - website | Posted November 18, 2011 at 12:55:21 in reply to Comment 71416

Force is mass times the square of speed, after all, meaning that cars can do many times the damage and require far more stopping distance.

This is also why the death rate in a collision between an automobile and a pedestrian increases geometrically with the speed of the vehicle. At 32 km/h, a pedestrian has a 5% chance of dying. That chance increases to 50% at 48 km/h and 90% at 54 km/h.

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By TnT (registered) | Posted November 18, 2011 at 14:52:32 in reply to Comment 71417

Also it apparently flies in TO http://www.treehugger.com/bikes/why-cycl...

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By Ted Mitchell (registered) | Posted November 18, 2011 at 15:11:32

On a bike, I typically commute at 20 km/h and slow to roughly 12 km/h when approaching a residential stop sign intersection. At that speed, if suddenly I see a car, I can stop in about 2m - the length of the bike.

When approaching the same intersection in a car, I'm doing about 40 km/h. If I slowed to 12 km/h to go through the intersection, it would appear to an observer that I was going slower than the bike did because of two factors:

1) velocitization - a large percentage reduction in speed makes it seem that you're going slower than you really are. It's also why cops set up radar traps on roads close to highway off ramps.

2) size - the car is larger, therefore looks to be going slower at the same speed as the bike

But at 12 km/h in a car, you can't stop in 2 meters, you can't see or hear as well, so a collision is more likely, and the consequences of that collision are more serious.

And btw, only someone who's never biked on roads could claim that cyclists are no more aware than drivers.

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By fmurray (registered) | Posted November 19, 2011 at 18:21:21

This is a great article. I was trying to explain some of these things to people at work (about losing momentum and having more awareness of surroundings when on a bike as compared to a car), but didn't have the knowledge of physics. I guess for me, the crux of this argument is that the Idaho stop has worked in Idaho for 30 YEARS. Why (and this is a constant question that I ask) do we always say: THIS WON'T WORK HERE? Why? We need more people on City Council and especially the mayor to say WHY NOT? Why not in Hamilton? Is there some factor that makes us less able to accept progressive alternatives -- LRT, more bike lanes, the Idaho-style stop?

Unforunately, I do believe there is a cultural factor in Hamilton and possibly all of Canada that plays into decisions that are progressive -- we freak about changing our lifestyles in the smallest way and are very risk-averse in decisions that may spend money in "unproven" investments. And there's a jealousy/fairness factor too -- "if I have to come to a full stop in my car, then you have to do it on your bike, even though it may make absolutely no sense for you to do so -- because IT'S FAIR".

A lot of people have descended from European stock in this country, but somehow Europeans have developed a more progressive outlook.

This city has so much potential.

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By SpaceMonkey (registered) | Posted November 21, 2011 at 18:49:30 in reply to Comment 71457

Thinking more about this "fair" thing.

Maybe those who think a cyclist should stop to make it fair should think about it like this. If someone is willing to ride their bike, rather than drive, thus reducing traffic and pollution, it's only fair to let them go safely trough the intersection without having to needlessly come to a complete stop prior to doing so.

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By SpaceMonkey (registered) | Posted November 20, 2011 at 23:11:05 in reply to Comment 71457

I don't understand this "fair" argument. If a cyclist is approaching a 4 way stop and there are no cars, pedestrians, dogs etc to be seen anywhere, and then proceeds to roll through the intersection without first coming to a complete stop, how is it unfair? Whether the cyclist comes to a full stop or not does not effect your life in any way. I just don't see how fairness comes into play here.

If being fair means purposely inconveniencing another person ONLY because I must be inconvenienced, I don't want to be fair.

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By Undustrial (registered) - website | Posted November 20, 2011 at 21:28:47 in reply to Comment 71457

The problem with "fairness" based arguments comes when the overall situation is far from fair. In these situations, superficial "equity" usually only entrenches underlying inequality.

Cars are by far the most dangerous road users, and cause more harm (to people, other cars and structures, that the rest combined. They receive the lion's share of funding and subsidies, and are by far the richest on average. They take up the most space (as cars or with roads/parking) and travel far faster. There is no underlying equality here.

We've all been more than fair to cars, motorists and the auto industry. How about trying something else?

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By SpaceMonkey (registered) | Posted November 20, 2011 at 23:13:40 in reply to Comment 71468

Undustrial, I'm not being a jerk here. When you say "cars", you mean vehicles right?

I would have guessed (just a guess, not suggesting to know any facts on this) large SUVs are the most dangerous things on our roads.

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By Undustrial (registered) - website | Posted November 21, 2011 at 09:33:23 in reply to Comment 71470

An SUV is just a taller car. Practically speaking the only difference between a CRV and a civic is the shape. What about Minis? Vipers? Hummers? Just cars - they may look different, but there's none of the substantive differences (use, license, ownership, safety record etc) seen with busses, trucks or construction vehicles. You buy them at dealerships, park them in driveways and drive them with a G-Class licenses.

Transport trucks are more dangerous than any car (and some car bombs), yet usually are some of the safest drivers. Why? They don't get used for casual personal transport.

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By SpaceMonkey (registered) | Posted November 21, 2011 at 15:26:59 in reply to Comment 71472

...and 800 pounds. That makes them 800 pounds less safe to everyone around them. The height difference makes it more likely to roll over.

Regardless, I didn't say "crossovers". The CRV is a crossover. I was careful to say LARGE SUVs. If you want to pick a Honda, why not say the Pilot?

Anyways, you did answer my original question. You meant vehicles used for personal use.

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By Undustrial (registered) - website | Posted November 22, 2011 at 21:26:36 in reply to Comment 71487

Apologies, I'm now at home and am no longer typing with a mouse...allow me to elucidate at length with the help of my trusty old gloss black PS2 clunker.

I referred to the general phenomena of mass motoring ("cars, motorists and the auto industry" etc), which clearly involves SUVs, crossovers, minivans, Minis, V12 sports cars and pickup trucks. "Vehicles for personal" use might be one term, but it ignores the fact that not all vehicles are automobiles. A more descriptive term might be "personal automobile ownership as a primary transportation strategy".

This isn't about ambulances, taxis, delivery trucks or car-shares. This is about one or more cars for most families, which entails an absolutely staggering amount of space, resources, money and work. Cars, roads, parking spaces (several per car, on average), gas, loans, accidents, insurance etc... Requiring each household to bear these kinds of costs directly and through taxes places an enormous burden on them, and additional burdens on those who can't afford to be involved.

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By SpaceMonkee (anonymous) | Posted November 23, 2011 at 10:34:10 in reply to Comment 71546

Weren't we talking about safety? Yikes.

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[ - ]

By moylek (registered) - website | Posted November 21, 2011 at 16:38:18

I cycle to work every day; I run most of my errands in the West end by bike.

Nearly every day I see

  • cyclists blow through stop signs when there are cars waiting for their turn
  • cyclists hook left or right onto a sidewalk to avoid waiting at a light
  • cyclists turn without signalling when signalling would have been helpful to cars or pedestrians waiting an opportunity to move forward.

And when I say "nearly every day" I mean "every day almost without exception." This is not the same as drivers who make rolling stops or who forget to signal or accidentally run a stop sign: this is quite clearly a deliberate disregard for the traffic laws and common sense by a significant minority of cyclists.

The behaviour is galling, sows chaos and is sometimes just plain dangerous. And it helps turn cyclists into the enemies of drivers.

But let us - we the defensive cyclists; we the unsympathetic drivers - separate the two issues. On the one hand, there are cyclists who cycle with little regard to rules and mutual consideration (and there are lots of them); on the other hand, there is this proposal regarding behaviour at stop signs and red lights.

We should not conflate these two types of behaviour to score "so there" points. But we should also realize that to many drivers, the cyclist who runs a four-way safely at moderate speed looks just like the jerk who blows through without stopping when a driver has the right of way.

Comment edited by moylek on 2011-11-21 16:39:13

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By Undustrial (registered) - website | Posted November 23, 2011 at 12:50:42 in reply to Comment 71491

I'm not going to defend the actions of all cyclists, and I don't have to. There are plenty of idiots, especially around the university, but that's an argument for doing something about them, not punishing all cyclists as a result.

So far today riding a bike, I've been honked at, cut off, had change thrown at me and screamed at to "get in the bike lane" because there was a white line marking off the shoulder (starting at about 6 inches of width from the curb). These actions are not abnormal, and they go well beyond "annoying" into realms such as "threatening", "abuse" and "potentially lethal". The police do next to nothing about this, choosing instead to blame pedestrians and cyclists for being hit, and the result is a very real and significant number of deaths and injuries.

Wanna know why people don't cycle? Because they're afraid for their lives.

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By Ted Mitchell (registered) | Posted November 22, 2011 at 14:50:33 in reply to Comment 71491

But we should also realize that to many drivers, the cyclist who runs a four-way safely at moderate speed looks just like the jerk who blows through without stopping when a driver has the right of way.

In other words, many drivers are completely stunned and observe only adherence to law, not common sense?

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