Colorado has become the latest state to introduce a law that allows cyclists to make rolling stops at intersections, thus regarding stop signs as yield signs and to view red traffic lights as stop signs. Gov. Polis signed the bill into law on April 13.
Advocates contend that the intent of the law is to limit the amount of time cyclists spend at intersections – considered dangerous for cyclists. According to the Colorado Department of Transportation, 72% of crashes between cars and cyclists occur at intersections.
Is law effective?
As a result of the rolling stop rule, people who ride bicycles, electric bikes and electric scooters may travel through a stop sign after slowing down to a speed of 15 miles per hour or less, if safe to go. Cyclists must continue to yield to pedestrians and motor vehicles that have the right of way.
Will the law limit the number of cycling deaths and injuries? Let us take a look at Idaho, where the law started.
The rolling stop often is referred to as the “Idaho stop,” thanks to that state’s 1982 adoption of this law geared toward helping cyclists.
A year after the law’s implementation, Idaho saw a 15% decrease in cyclist injuries. However, since then and with many more years of statistics available, state and federal officials discerned no long-term changes. Certainly, there are too many other factors involved, particularly the increases in distracted and aggressive driving behaviors, to determine whether the “Idaho stop” has helped reduce car vs. cyclist incidents.
Twenty cyclists killed in 2019
Bicycle safety must continue to remain a priority in Colorado and the rest of the country. Too many cyclists sustain injuries or die in many preventable collisions.
In Colorado, 20 cyclists died in crashes in 2019, according to the Colorado Department of Transportation. In addition, cyclist deaths accounted for 3% of all of the state’s traffic fatalities during the five-year period of 2015 to 2019. Finally, cyclists accounted for 3% to 5% of the people seriously injured in motor vehicle crashes during that same five-year period in Colorado.
Remain alert and aware
As advocates for cyclists, we hope this new law will have a positive effect. Regardless, everyone travelling on our Colorado roadways must remain aware, alert and understand that collisions caused by distracted, inattentive and reckless drivers may be only moments away.
If you’re cycling and the victim of a collision caused by a motorist, contact an experienced Colorado bike law attorney as soon as possible to understand your rights, responsibilities and next steps to protect your interests.