Perimeter President takes a position on Bicyclists Yielding at Stop Signs

Tuesday, February 28th, 2012

Gotta stop at a stop signAbsurd! Bicyclists rolling through a stop sign, rather than coming to a complete stop, is not only simply dangerous, it also puts cyclists in greater risk of liability than ever before. Here are a few reasons why this policy should never become a law in any state – even in those four states that allow it now.

First, the Arizona bill, as currently written, includes the prima facie statement that if a cyclist is struck after slowing sufficiently and determining that it is safe to roll the sign, the fault goes automatically to the cyclist regardless if the motorist runs the stop sign or floors it with intent to strike the cyclist. Prima facie means “at first look” or “face value” meaning there is sufficient proof to prove fault without need of further investigation. In other words, the way the bill is worded would automatically place the fault on the cyclist with no questions asked.

Second, there have been many bicycle advocacy supporters working over the years trying to get our state to get the bicycle recognized as a “vehicle” which would give cyclists equal rights to vehicles. Currently, state law favors motorists which means the cyclist are typically at fault when an accident involves a motorist and cyclist, and/or fines are less for the motorists even when the motorist is a fault. Having this kind of law, slowing at stop signs rather than stopping, would take away years of progress in getting us recognized as a vehicle and we’ll never get equality in the court and/or legal system.

Most motorists don’t even know the rules of the road for a cyclist. They don’t even know that cyclists are required to ride in the same direction as a motorized vehicle! They automatically, regardless of the law, assume the cyclist is at fault or is definitely doing something wrong. This results in anger toward the cyclist. Having this new policy will only reinforce their anger toward cyclists, especially when they see a cyclist going through a stop sign and not coming to a complete stop. We need to decrease the anger between cyclists and motorists. Not reinforce it.

Do you really think that this is not dangerous? Even though studies indicate that after a period of time accidents do not increase when cyclists yield rather than stop (at stop signs), this is not good enough reason to have this new policy. Why? Until we get to that time, just how many accidents and/or fatalities have to occur? Someone (or many) will have to be a martyr until we get to that point. Why experiment with someone’s life? Putting something into effect that will result in an accident or a fatality (until a certain time) is not practical. And, furthermore, if this new policy will not increase or decrease after a period of time, why change? Then no one gets hurt!

This new policy just does not make sense. Perimeter Bicycling will not support this type of policy even if the State puts it into effect. We will continue to promote “all cyclists are to make a complete stop at stop signs”. This is the safest way to cycle and avoid an accident. We will not make any concessions, especially in our events. Regardless of State law, Perimeter’s policy will be when there is not a traffic officer at an intersection and there is a signal (red) and/or stop sign, you are to come to a complete stop. This is particularly true in our Cochise County Cycling Classic where we do not have safety/traffic control on the 234, 157 and/or 92-mile events. Full stop. That’s the best and safest way.

One final point. Just how are we going to explain this to our kids.? They learn by example. Do you really think that they will slow down, look both ways, then turn? Absolutely not! They will ride through without slowing down and without looking. Don’t take a chance. We’re smaller than those vehicles. Ride defensively. Stop. Live longer. Have a safe ride wherever you go.

Richard J. DeBernardis
President and CEO, Perimeter Bicycling Association of America, Inc.

Posted in PBAA News
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