What is Stop-as-Yield and Why Does it Matter?

“Stop as Yield,” also known as the “Idaho Stop” is a controversial law that allows cyclists to treat stop signs as yield signs and a red light as a stop light. Idaho was the first state to pass such a law in 1982. Stop-as-yield laws are designed to allow cyclists to travel in more fluid motion and, therefore, more safely. Here are some reasons why the Idaho Stop could be a good idea:

  • Cyclists do not accelerate as quickly as vehicles. Delayed acceleration from a stopped position may actually put cyclists in more danger because they hold traffic up
  • Bikes are more stable when in motion
  • The Idaho Stop would allow cyclists to creep into intersections, increasing visibility to motorists
  • Cyclists can still yield the right of way without coming to a complete stop

Arguments against the Idaho Stop include:

  • Separate standards for cyclists and vehicles would create confusion, leading to more accidents
  • Allowing cyclists to maintain momentum at intersections would require them to make split-second decisions, leading to more accidents

The D.C. Council recently had a hearing on whether stop-as-yield should be adopted in the District, among other proposals that are part of the Bicycle and Pedestrian Safety Act of 2015. Unsurprisingly, several groups, including The Metropolitan Police Department, AAA Mid-Atlantic, and the District Department of Transportation each expressed reservations about implementing this provision, citing concerns that it would lead to confusion about the law. The Washington Area Bicyclist Association is in favor of the measure.

The Grenier Law Group is closely monitoring this issue and other potential changes in the law that affect D.C. cyclists. If you were injured in a bike accident and would like to discuss your rights, call Peter Anderson at 202-768-9609 or send an email to panderson@grenierlawgroup.com.