An intuitive new law, the Safety Stop, is coming to Washington

Washington Bikes is excited to report the Safety Stop bill (SB 6208) – Washington Bikes’ 2020 priority legislation – passed during the 60-day legislative session. Once it goes into effect this October, people biking will be able to treat a stop sign as a yield. 

Last Thursday, before the state’s coronavirus response was in full gear, the 2020 legislative session concluded with the successful passage of Washington Bikes’ priority legislation that will allow people bicycling the option to treat a stop sign as a yield (when the coast is clear and it’s safe to enter an intersection). Washington will be the fifth state in the nation to legalize the Safety Stop, following Idaho, Delaware, Arkansas, and Oregon. Unlike Oregon, which passed this law in 2019 after multiple attempts, 2020 was the first year that Safety Stop legislation was introduced in Washington. It’s swift passage underscores bipartisan support for biking, and Washington Bikes’ ability to pass practical, seamless, safe, and intuitive legislation. 

The Safety Stop, often recognized as the Idaho Stop (named for the first state to enact the policy in 1982), earned bipartisan sponsorship and votes as it moved through the Washington Legislature this session. We thank our prime sponsors: Senate Majority Leader Andy Billig (3rd LD, Spokane) prime sponsored the Senate bill and Rep. Joe Fitzgibbon (34th LD, Burien) prime sponsored the House companion bill. 

Live tweets about the Safety Stop during the House Transportation Commmittee hearing

The bill was signed by Governor Jay Inslee on March 18, marking the last step in the legislative process to turn the bill into law. October 1, 2020 is when the law will take effect. 

Because of this law, we at Washington Bikes know that approaching and traveling through intersections by bike will now be safer and more intuitive for all.

The legislation has two exemptions that are important to note. Stop sign signals on school busses will still require a complete stop, as well as the stop signs present at railroad crossings. Otherwise, beginning this fall, people who bike can recognize a stop sign as a “yield the right away.”

Washington’s yield protocol entails: 

    • slowing down to a speed reasonable for road conditions and, if required, to be able to safely come to a stop
    • The person operating a bicycle should yield the right of way to any vehicle in the intersection or approaching on another roadway that is close enough to present an immediate hazard

While session already feels like a lifetime ago, we’re excited for this new legislation and look forward to it taking effect.

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