By David P. Hersh, Burg Simpson Shareholder
Colorado “Stop-as-Yield” law
In May 2018 Colorado adopted a new statewide standard regulating bicycles when they are approaching intersections. C.R.S. § 42-4-1412.5 establishes as the standard what is known as “stop as yield” throughout Colorado. However, individual local governments can choose whether or not to adopt this standard in their particular jurisdiction. Some jurisdictions (Summit County, for example) had already adopted the “stop as yield” practice (prior to adoption of the new state law).
Essentially, when approaching stop signs, a cyclist is allowed to slow “to a reasonable speed”, “yield the right of way”, and then proceed through the intersection. When approaching traffic lights, cyclists must come to a stop, yield to traffic, and proceed with caution through the intersection.
It still remains to be seen what local jurisdictions will do with this new law. The theory behind the law is that it is safer for cyclists when they can clear intersections (safely). For many cyclists, the greatest confrontational interactions with motorists come when cyclists are clearing intersections. It is at those moments when motorists’ greater horsepower causes them to be most impatient with cyclists attempting to “clip in” and overcome inertia to get the bicycle rolling. Intersections are also a place where cyclists who do not “claim the lane” often find themselves being “squeezed out” as the relative breadth of the intersection gives way to (sometimes limited) lanes of travel.
The “stop as yield” law is sometimes called “the Idaho Stop”, as it first found popularity in that State. Some studies show that during the 1st year following adoption of the Idaho law allowing the “stop as yield”, cyclist injuries declined by more than 14%.
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