- People riding bikes can treat a stop sign as a yield if the coast is clear
- Priority legislation for Washington Bikes, the law makes intersections–one of the most dangerous places for people riding bikes–safer
OLYMPIA, Wash. (Sept. 28, 2020) — A new law aimed at making intersections safer for people riding bicycles goes into effect on Thursday (Oct. 1).
The “Safety Stop” law allows people on bicycles to treat stop signs as yield signs, allowing them to roll through an intersection if the coast is clear. The new law was lobbied for by Washington Bikes, a statewide bicycle advocacy organization affiliated with Cascade Bicycle Club. This change is important because people on bikes face the most danger at intersections, where they are vulnerable to being struck by inattentive drivers.
Washington is the fifth state 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 the Safety Stop was introduced in the Washington State Legislature.
“The bill’s swift passage underscores the bipartisan support for biking, and Washington Bikes’ ability to pass practical, safe and smart legislation,” says Vicky Clarke, policy director for Washington Bikes.
The law, which was sponsored by Sen. Andy Billig (D-3rd) and Rep. Joe Fitzgibbon (D-34th), requires people on bicycles to slow down to a reasonable speed that would allow them to stop if necessary. As is already the case, people riding bikes must yield to any vehicle already in the intersection. Also known as the “Idaho Stop,” named for the first state to pass the law, bicycling injuries in Idaho dropped by 14 percent in 1982 following enactment of the law.
“There’s a reason this law received huge support from both sides of the aisle in Olympia–it makes sense and it makes the roads safer,” says Alex Alston, Washington Bikes’ state policy director and lead lobbyist in Olympia.