If you cycle, you probably know of the proposed change to California law regarding stopping and yielding. If passed, it could make cycling faster and safer.
Current California law requires cyclists to stop at stop signs. The new bill would let cyclists treat stop signs as yields. If there is a vehicle or pedestrian crossing ahead of you, you need to give way, but you can keep moving if the coast is clear.
Allowing cyclists to yield at stop signs has worked in other states
Idaho has had such a rule since the 1980s. Delaware found that crashes involving cyclists dropped by 11% after introducing the law, and intersection crashes involving cyclists dropped 23%. There are several reasons why allowing cyclists to yield at a stop can help keep them safe:
- You get across a junction quicker: Intersections are dangerous, so the faster you can get through them, the better. It takes longer from a standing start than if you are allowed to keep rolling.
- Drivers can get feisty at junctions: Drivers can get impatient when made to stop at a light. Others use the lights to check their phone, so are not paying attention when they set off. The build-up of stopped cars can also make it hard to see you.
- You can choose safer routes: Busy routes are more likely to have red lights where you still need to stop. If minor routes have more junctions that let you yield, they will be quicker, so you will use them more and avoid the busier roads where an accident is more likely.
Drivers will always present a risk to cyclists, so any legislation that reduces that risk is welcome. Despite lawmakers’ and city planners’ role in cycling safety, the ultimate responsibility lies with the motorist when a crash happens. They are the ones you will need to seek compensation for your injuries from.