If you’re riding a bike on a street in Idaho, it’s legal to treat a stop sign like it’s just a yield. One San Francisco bicycle activist group named the Wigg Party wants that to become the law here, too. The group says local police are overzealous about ticketing cyclists who don’t come to a full stop. When police announced they would step up enforcement, cyclists staged a protest earlier this week. Should cyclists yield or come to a full stop at stop signs?[View the story “The ‘Idaho Stop’: A San Francisco Hot Potato ” on Storify]

SF Bicycle Activists Want to Yield (Not Stop) at Stop Signs 31 July,2015forum

Denny Klein, resident of the Lower Haight who lives near the Wiggle
Morgan Fitzgibbons, program director for the Wigg Party

  • Beth Grant DeRoos

    Are bicycle riders required to carry liability insurance in case they knock someone down or damage another bike or a car because they are riding fast and ignoring stop signs and basic safety rules?

    • Don Eichelberger

      Treating stop signs like yield signs does not mean allowing bikers to careen headlong through an intersection, but slow, check for oncoming traffic, then proceed when clear, without coming to a complete stop. Cars are even allowed not to stop at all intersections, but yield. Do they careen through yield signs when traffic is coming? I don’t think so. There will always be idiots careening through yield and stop signs when unsafe, but why should everyone pay for the idiocy of the few? Let natural selection do its thing.

    • baklazhan

      Drivers are required to carry liability insurance because drivers cause about 2.4 billion dollars of damage– every day. This is not an exaggeration. While it’s true that bicycle riders do occasionally cause damage and injury, it’s not very frequent, and usually is not very severe. As such, there’s no reason to mandate liability insurance.

      That said, it may be wise to have some liability insurance, just like it may be wise to have homeowner’s or renter’s insurance, even if it isn’t legally required. Indeed, many cyclists are covered by those and other policies without realizing it.

      • Realspear

        The problem is that when bicyclists cause injury, it’s almost impossible to find them. No license plate, helmets that obscure the top of the head. So they get away with hitting pedestrians and not having to worry about it.

        • Ray Fischer

          And because hit-and-run drivers don’t exist

          • Robert Thomas

            Only seldom do motor vehicles hit-and-run from collisions on the sidewalk.

          • Ray Fischer

            Only seldom do bicycles hit-and-run from collisions on the sidewalk.

          • Robert Thomas

            It’s happened three times, in front of me; in no case have I observed a cyclist involved in a pedestrian collision do anything else but ride away, including from an injured pedestrian. In two of these cases, the cyclist was certainly also injured but fled anyway. In one collision in which I was involved, I was not injured and the cyclist apologized sincerely but wouldn’t identify himself and rode away.

            As I’ve published here elsewhere, many municipalities including those in New York State (as reported in the Hunter College study) have found through various means that many bicycle – pedestrian collisions are unreported and uncounted.

          • Donovan Lacy

            I am sorry to hear about your unfortunate experience with inconsiderate cyclists riding on the sidewalk and causing accidents. I agree that cyclists should not ride on sidewalks. You are certainly very lucky to not have been one of the thousands of people every year involved in hit and run injury accidents. The numbers are truly astounding. Did you know that 18% of injury automobile accidents in California are hit and run.

          • Ray Fischer

            Unless you’re lying.

          • Robert Thomas

            Impotent, flatulent name calling has served well in other venues, I expect.

          • Donovan Lacy

            Did you get a chance to read the Hunter College Study? If you compare the data that they provide with automobile injuries it is truly mind numbing.

            According to the Hunter College Study, in 2007 there were 1012 pedestrian outpatient and 85 in patient hospital visits reported as a result of pedestrian bicycle accidents.

            According to the NY State Health Department there were 12,104 emergency department (ED) visits due to motor vehicle traffic-related pedestrian injuries and 3,446 hospitalizations due motor vehicle traffic-related pedestrian injuries.

            According to the data, you are 40 times more likely to have to be admitted to a hospital as a result of an automobile / pedestrian accident versus a bicycle / pedestrian accident.

            It is also worth noting that the Hunter College Study showed a 15% decrease in total number of bicycle / pedestrian injury accidents over the course of their study.

          • Robert Thomas

            Although I can’t say I’m conversant with the Hunter College study or that I studied all of its tables, I read the text at Scribd before I posted the citation.

            I don’t find myself mind-numbed, exactly. Since automobiles are 20 times more massive than bicyclists, travel at a higher speed, since they are far more numerous on American roadways than are bicycles and since KE = 1/2 mv^2, I’m surprised that the multiplayer for the difference you mention is as low as forty.

            I certainly made no claim on this page or anywhere else that I thought pedestrian – motor vehicle collisions weren’t a problem.

            Being interested in issues associated with intersection design, I recall a breakdown of pedestrian roadway crashes included in a document I have saved,

            “Based on an analysis of more than 8000 crashes, from six states, the most frequent crash types are:
            • dart-out first half (i.e., the pedestrian is struck in the first half of the street being crossed) (24 percent),
            • intersection dash (13 percent),
            • dart-out second half (10 percent),
            • midblock dart (8 percent), and
            • turning-vehicle crashes (5 percent).”

            “Urban Intersection Design Guide: Volume 1 – Guidelines”
            Fitzpatrick, et al.
            Texas Transportation Institute, July, 2005, p. 2-24

            [Among other works, this relies on
            “Walking The Safety Walk”
            Do, Ann
            Public Roads, Sep-Oct 2002, Vol. 66 No. 2
            Federal Highway Administration Research and Technology]

            which suggests that walking on the sidewalk (where one is available) – and otherwise obeying traffic signals when crossing streets and being vigilant in other rural or residential districts where pedestrian crossing is uncontrolled – is likely to reduce a pedestrian’s likelihood of injurious collision with motor vehicles. Unfortunately – and distinctly compared to cyclists – no alternative other than the sidewalk is available to pedestrians even when we are at our most defensive alert.

            As for the claim for a downward trend in bicycle – pedestrian collisions I believe you’ve you gleaned from Table 1 of the Hunter College study, I don’t think the statistical value of these data

            2007 1097
            2008 1112
            2009 985
            2010 927

            is very compelling.

          • Donovan Lacy

            You posted the Hunter College Study and suggested that it provided findings of under reported bicycle / pedestrian injury accidents, but the findings are consistent with the other reports that have been posted to this blog, showing that bicycle / pedestrian accidents are much less frequent or dangerous than automobile / pedestrian accidents.

            You then question the findings of the Hunter College Study itself, showing a 15% reduction in bicycle / pedestrian accidents over the study time period.

            Finally, you reference a Texas DOt intersection manual, that I just spent the last 25 minutes reading, that does not address Idaho stops or bicycle / pedestrian accidents on any meaningful way, and reinforces the fact that automobiles and specifically distracted drivers are the most dangerous users of the roadway to pedestrians and cyclists.

            Can you please help me understand what your point is?

          • Ray Fischer

            And exaggerated, unrepresentative, anecdotes have served to distort public policy and demonize the enemy.

          • Robert Thomas

            Anecdote such as you describe can indeed distort public policy, which is one reason why – with respect to my assertion about the undercount of bicycle-pedestrian collisions – I cited several corroborating sources.

          • Ray Fischer

            The plural of ‘anecdote’ is not ‘evidence’. It is ‘anecdotes’.

          • Robert Thomas

            Res ipsa loquitur.

          • Ray Fischer

            Neither is a latin legal term any sort of evidence

          • Joseph Herbert

            I’m a cyclist. I’ve never owned a car.

            @Ray, and @Realspear:

            I agree with both of you .

            (and I don’t think anyone’s saying for a nanosecond that hit-and-run drivers don’t exist, nor are any less important.)

            ANYONE who does hit-and-run, regardless of mode of transit, should be held accountable and act with integrity.

            That includes me!! (And yes, I have hit people while I’m on a bicycle — thankfully, nothing serious. But I damn well stopped and made sure, and then I gave the other person my contact info, email and phone, in case they discovered something (injury or damage) later.)

            The important point here — for me, at least — is that //any// irresponsible/risky behavior is something we need to hold the appropriate party responsible for.
            If it’s someone on a bicycle doing hit-and-run, then I want a way to hold them accountable.
            If it’s someone driving a car doing hit-and-run, same thing.

            I don’t think it’s important which “group” does it “More.”

            What I do believe is important, is that we catch — and pay attention! — to anyone (regardless of their mode of transportation) whose actions might endanger others.

            Yes, Realspear, I agree that the issue of holding someone accountable while driving a car is easier than holding someone accountable while riding a bicycle (due to the lack of licensure in the latter case).
            … AND. I don’t see any easy solutions to this. I’m //not// terribly keen on the idea of taxing nor of requiring licenses for riding a bicycle. I *don’t know* what solution is most workable here.
            …. Maybe have the bicycles themselves tagged (at time of manufacture)?

            Again.: I. Ride. A Bicycle.
            I want *everyone* — car, bicycle, walk/run, segue, etc. — to be held accountable for their actions, in *every* circumstance. No easy ways out for anyone.

            And yeah, @Ray, I do think that people of all modes sometimes get excused. This is a real problem for many different modes of transit, and I agree we should work to correct it in every sector.

        • baklazhan

          In the past decades, there have been two collisions where a bicyclist killed a pedestrian. In neither case did the bicyclist escape. In the same period, there have been many drivers who have killed pedestrians and disappeared. License plates were not necessary in the first case, and did not help in the second.

    • Mark SF

      Some car insurance covers bicyclist as the insurance is also driver insurance. For example, most insurance covers you when you rent a car. Talk to your insurance company about your policy.

      Most bicyclist are also car drivers.

    • Beth Grant DeRoos

      Maybe its just my family but we found the bicycle riders in Paris, Japan and in the Netherlands to actually care about those around them sans the me me me mentality so many Americans have whether driving a vehicle or a bicycle. Which is why riding a bicycle in those countries work so well.

  • Don Eichelberger

    I’ve ridden bike in SF for over 25 years and always believed bikers should be able to treat stop signs as yield signs. Bikes have less visibility limitation and do much less damage when they hit something than cars, unless going at near full speed, even then not likely putting anyone in mortal danger. The biker takes the biggest risk, and should be allowed to. Bikers are generally more aware of the dangers they face and take necessary precautions to stay alive (except for some Kamakazi bike messengers I’ve seen).

    • Sean Dennehy

      And when a bicyclist careens through an intersection during a car’s turn and gets hit, it’ll be the biker’s fault right? Some of us drivers don’t have to have to be held responsible because you bicyclists don’t follow the rules.

      • Samuel Littlefield

        Your point is taken, Sean. Bicyclists often cruise through stop signs out of turn and disrupt the flow of traffic by doing so. However, the policy change in question is “should bicyclists be allowed to treat stop signs as a traffic yield,” which, by definition, is “a call for the driver (bicyclist in this case) to do the following: slow down, defer to oncoming or intersecting traffic, STOP WHEN NECESSARY, proceed when safe, and remain aware of oncoming vehicles.” If we are in agreement that under no circumstances should any vehicle, bicyclist, nor pedestrian disrupt the flow of traffic outside state regulations, then I think your point is erroneous. If there’s no cars at a stop sign I’m not stopping. If there are cars at a stop sign, I’ll wait my turn.

        • amatulic

          That’s well and good. I think the uneasiness about the proposed law in this discussion boils down to: bicyclists ignore the law now, and there’s no evidence to suggest that they won’t continue to ignore it in the future and consider the option to yield as a free pass to assert their own right-of-way.

          • Samuel Littlefield

            Drivers ignore the no handheld device law now, how has legislation curbed this issue? Not to play devil’s advocate but I don’t think this argument holds water. People will ignore any type of law.

          • amatulic

            How many more people would use handheld devices in cars without the legislation? That was kind of my point. Some people ignore laws, so loosening up the laws may just worsen the problem.

          • darelldd

            Is there room for the possibility that this law will make the situation better?

            Currently we are trying to stuff a square peg into a round hole. Few people – no matter their mode of transportation – are going to abide by a law that makes no practical sense. And we’re getting numb to all the gratuitous stop signs. Unless we hire 500,000 more officers to enforce all stops for everybody… well, I think we can all agree that we aren’t going to get compliance with everybody stopping at every stop sign. Yet we continue to run around pretending like we’ll all be better off if we force everybody to obey this law that almost nobody obeys. We don’t need a bigger hammer to pound those square pegs. We need better policy that doesn’t criminalize common, natural, safe behavior.

            And that is a big question… why is it against the law to yield through a stop sign at a completely empty intersection?

            So… instead of pretending to enforce this unenforceable law that so often makes no sense, what happens if we only crack down on those actions that endanger others, or violate others’ right of way? Isn’t that the whole point of the law anyway? And if yes, why are we wasting time insisting that everybody stops at all signs at all times?

            With the new law we can concentrate on the behavior that endangers us, instead of pretending that everybody who doesn’t stop is a threat to society.

      • “Careen(ing)” and yielding are two different things. I live along the Wiggle as a pedestrian, and while I often see cyclists *yielding* to stop signs, I rarely see this “careening” to which everyone is referring. There *is* a middle ground here–not every (actually, very few) cyclist is racing around The City like a madman.

        • Sean Dennehy

          I’m glad you don’t see this careening. That doesn’t mean the rest of us don’t.

      • Judi

        in CA driver manual, it stated before merging to the right lane to turn to the right, you have to keep an eyes out for any bicyclist on the right lane. (hence you supposed to turn your head and look at your right side before turning). I do not understand why cars don’t yield to bicycle like you have to yield to pedestrians.

        • Another Mike

          He’s not talking about cyclists who are proceeding on the same green light he is.

  • CW

    Yes, allowing the yield is safer for everyone. It allows the cyclist to use a bit of forward momentum to re-accelerate and clear the intersection more quickly. Motorized vehicles can accelerate from a complete, zero-momentum stop more quickly than bicycles can, and because they travel faster, a car driver’s idea of “slow” approaching a stop/yield is going to be quite different from a cyclists’ speed at the same. Their view is more diminished by their own vehicle. Those two things make motorists prone to “miss” seeing oncoming traffic when they don’t fully stop. It’s not the same with cyclists, who have an unobstructed view and whose *top* speed is often the speed motorists travel at when “rolling” stop signs. For the cyclist to have to stop to zero-momentum and put a foot down, and then resume riding and accelerate from zero is just silly.

    • Realspear

      It’s not safer for pedestrians. I’ve been grazed several times by cyclists who think that as long as they are moving, they have the right-of-everything.

      • Whamadoodle

        Me too. So many people (this panelist, for one) simply lie about this experience of pedestrians. I don’t need cyclists to stop at every stop sign when no one is around, but the simple fact is that they’re ignoring autos, pedestrians, and other traffic, and I don’t appreciate it. They just won’t ever be honest about this.

  • Sean Dennehy

    The reason bicyclists feel that police are overzealous on ticketing bicyclists is because bicyclists do not follow the road rules. And, after demonstrating they have nothing but disregard for road rules, they want those road rules relaxed for them so that when they careen through intersections it becomes the drivers fault for hitting them. Bicyclists are self-entitled and are trying to have it both ways. If they want bikes to be treated like vehicles, then they should have to follow the laws like cars, which means stop at stop signs. It’s not that hard.

    • Chris OConnell

      Every day I see drivers speeding and using handheld devices behind the wheel. Every day and on every street. In fact, it is a bit ridiculous to call it a “speed limit” when it acts more like a “speed minimum” with barely anyone driving under the limit and almost everyone driving above it. In other words, drivers are constantly breaking the law as well. But since everyone is a driver and only a small subset are cyclists, this is another blind spot drivers have.

      • Sean Dennehy

        “Car drivers are bad too” isn’t an argument. This topic is about bicyclists. Do you show up at a Cancer research center and go “ebola is bad too?”

        It’s also completely off topic as drivers aren’t asking for a law to yield at stop signs.

        • adamspacemann

          The reason people keep bringing up the “cars are bad too” argument in discussions like this is because most people seem to apply a double standard when it comes to bikes breaking the law versus cars breaking the law. You say that say that “cyclists demonstrate that they have nothing but disregard for the rules of the road” but you don’t seem to mention the fact that drivers also demonstrate that they have nothing but disregard for the rules of the road, all day every day. What you’re asking is not that cyclists act the same as drivers. You’re saying that cyclists need to act BETTER than drivers in order to expect the same treatment. And that feels unfair.

          • Sean Dennehy

            Where’s the double standard? If drivers were asking for the right to yield at stop signs, we’d be having a completely different discussion. But we’re not asking for special treatment, we’re not asking for the current laws to not be enforced. Cyclists are. And that’s why they’re getting singled out.

            You need to learn how double standards work.

          • Chris OConnell

            I think it is you who need to learn. After all, this is what you wrote: “The reason bicyclists feel that police are overzealous on ticketing
            bicyclists is because bicyclists do not follow the road rules.” But you think it is totally irrelevant whether drivers follow road rules. DOUBLE STANDARD.

          • Sean Dennehy

            ” But you think it is totally irrelevant whether drivers follow road rules. ”

            Where did I say that I think it’s irrelevant whether drivers follow road rules? If drivers were saying that police are targeting them compared to pedestrians or bicyclists, then I’d be making the same comment to them that they need to follow the rules. But drivers *aren’t.*

            The next time you accuse me of having a position, back it up with a quote or get out.

          • Chris OConnell

            Here’s your quote in response to my complaint about drivers flouting the laws, which sounds exactly like you are saying that it is irrelevant whether drivers follow road rules. “This topic is about bicyclists. Do you show up at a Cancer research center and go “ebola is bad too?”

            You exhibit a lot of arrogance here, as if you own this topic and can write all the rules, telling me what points I can raise and to “get out.”

          • Sean Dennehy

            I’m not dictating what points you’re allowed to raise. You’re allowed to raise any points you want. I’m debating your choice to raise the point that cars don’t follow the rules. I’m giving reasons why you shouldn’t (note the word shouldn’t, which doesn’t mean not allowed). Reasons like 1) Car drivers aren’t asking for a change in law, bicyclists are. 2) Car drivers aren’t stating that they’re being ticketed too much by police, bicyclists are.

            Do you not see this? Is this too difficult for you?

          • Chris OConnell

            Patronizing, too.

          • Lacey

            You know what? You’re right. And I’m sure you’re just as active in the gazillions of blogs regarding cars asking for more rights.

            Heads up–roads were designed without bicyclists in mind. The thousands of cyclists in this major city need to be accommodated on the road with protected bike lanes, so that EVERYONE is safer, and can safely and effectively transit the roadways.

            But maybe you’re right! Screw the minority cyclists! They don’t need anything, everything’s fine, they’re just a always breaking the law because they’re inherently BAD and cycling is inherently BAD. It CANT be that the system wasn’t built to accommodate them and that pedestrians and cars like the status quo of a system where they don’t want to budge on giving up ANY space for protected bike lanes.
            Cyclists are put into difficult positions when they aren’t safely accommodated on the roads. You’re a moron if you can’t see this.

          • Mary Malone

            False argument. Whether or not the roads were designed for cyclists is irrelevant to the discussion. Cyclists are CHOOSING to use the streets. With that choice comes the responsibility of following the rules that go along with the privilege of riding in the streets.

            If cyclists want to use the roads they need to follow the rules that EVERYONE ELSE has to follow.

            No one is forcing cyclists to use the streets, and there are alternatives to not using the streets.

            And if “Cyclists are put into a difficult position when they aren’t safely accommodated on the roads,” then they have the choice NOT TO USE THE ROADS.

            The argument that conveyances and roadways must be changed to deal with groups of people for which the roadways/conveyances were never intended to use is a false argument because there are other ways to travel which are safely done on streets.

          • Lacey

            That was the whole point of this demonstration, Mary. Cyclists followed the rules of the road, and it pushed drivers to break the laws. And it can all be avoided, with people not getting constantly put in danger, by putting in bike lanes. Bicyclists ARE choosing to use the roads, despite their lives being more in danger, and drivers don’t like it. So instead of drivers irrationally wanting cyclists not to use roads at ALL (which is clearly never going to happen), how about just putting in a bike lane a few feet wide? Or we can do it your way–because clearly the system is perfect now, as it is. You must not mind when cyclists are in front of your car.

          • adamspacemann

            Cars and bikes are different machines and so we’re often comparing apples and oranges in discussions like this. So you’re completely correct when you say that drivers aren’t asking for this particular law to be changed. But I would argue that we do things to accommodate drivers all the time on our roads. If car traffic isn’t flowing freely, a traffic engineer will come in and figure out a way to widen lanes, or change the timing of lights, or add additional capacity to the roadway. And we do this in spite of the fact that the majority of drivers are bending the traffic rules. What many cyclists would like is if we would consider making things a little easier for them as well on the road, for instance by letting them treat a stop sign like a yield sign. Because bikes don’t have as much mass and velocity and because the laws are written almost exclusively with drivers in mind, this seems like a fair consideration. But every time someone suggests it, they get blowback from people saying that we can’t consider making cyclists time on the road any easier until their behavior improves. That, to me, is where the double standard comes in.

          • Sean Dennehy

            Yes, cars and bikes are different. Yet bike activists are routinely demanding that bikes be treated like cars, given a whole space on the road as a car would when a car passes them.

            For me it’s not about whether bikes have less mass than a car. When a car hits a bike that didn’t yield at a stop sign and didn’t see the car going during the car’s turn, who will you blame and who will the law hold responsible?

          • adamspacemann

            Well, given the current road infrastructure, it is safest when cars treat bikes like one of their own and allow them full use of the lane. In practice, when I’m on my bike, I only take the lane when absolutely necessary, and usually only on roads where there is another lane that cars can pass me in (nonetheless, drivers often honk at me and demand I get out of their way). In an ideal world, I’d prefer it if roadways in the U.S. had separated protected biking infrastructure where cyclists could feel safe and not have to interact with cars very much.

            As for your question, I personally like the Dutch model, which says that, because drivers are in a stronger position, they bear an extra burden to look out for the safety of everyone else around them: http://www.economist.com/blogs/democracyinamerica/2013/11/cycling-v-cars

            A car has more power, and therefore more responsibility, in my mind, though I know this is something reasonable people can disagree about. I’m also not saying that means cyclists should just ride out into the middle of heavy traffic and assume everything will be okay. They certainly bear responsibility to try and avoid dangerous situations as much as possible.

            But something I would like to see in urban environments, where there are many cyclists and pedestrians around, that cars be slowed down to a maximum of 25 mph, so that when they do hit someone, the damage is minimized. My biggest concern in the situation you described above is not who to assign blame to, but to make sure that nobody is being killed by it.

          • Mary Malone

            QUOTING ADAMSPACEMANN: “But every time someone suggests it, they get blowback from people saying
            that we can’t consider making cyclists time on the road any easier
            until their behavior improves. That, to me, is where the double standard
            comes in.”

            REALLY? “Until their behavior improves”?

            How about cyclists take responsibility for themselves and travel where and how they feel safe? Or is “taking responsibility for one’s own actions out of style now?

          • In fact there are several circumstances where motors do have special privileges that cyclists do not. Motorists are freely allowed the use of any lane of traffic they want – cyclists are forced as far right as practical, unless making a left hand turn, etc etc. Motorists get full access to the interstate highways where bicycles are prohibited. All kinds of different vehicles have different rules that apply to them. Vehicles with trailers have different speed limits on the freeways. Busses have special lanes and parking that only they are legally allowed to use. So yes… it is a bit of a double standard to continually throw out the “cyclists break the law…” statement that adds no value to the discussion.

          • Mary Malone

            False argument. Just because someone else breaks the rules/regs doesn’t mean you have the right to do the same thing. Jeeze, I learned that when I was 3 years old…just like the “Just because someone else is doing something doesn’t mean you should.”

        • Mary Malone

          YOWZER! Your replies put a wrap on the whole topic.

      • Whamadoodle

        Well _I_ don’t have a blind spot to it. I have said often (right here on this page, in fact), today and in the past, that autos, pedestrians, and bicyclists ALL behave unsafely, and that it’s bad.

        Are you prepared to say the same about bicyclists that I’ve said about autos and pedestrians? Or are you indulging a blind spot for bicycles?

        • Chris OConnell

          Well, I could ask: Why are you responding to a non-argument that is completely off topic? But, of course, I think that you are acknowledging that my point is relevant and it feels extremely relevant to me. Well, I don’t think that everyone is behaving unsafely. For the most part, things work pretty well although obviously drivers speed and text, cyclists run lights and stop signs, and pedestrians jaywalk and often don’t pay attention

          I don’t have a systematic approach except to say: I really believe in the Right of Way at stop signs and lights (and everywhere). There needs to be a hierarchy with pedestrians at the top, cyclists in the middle and drivers at the bottom. And flip this for enforcement. I really believe cyclists should not have headphones on since hearing is a very important sense cyclists have that drivers don’t. (Cyclists also have much better peripheral vision than drivers.)

          • Doug F

            That’s already a CA law, that it’s illegal for both drivers & cyclists to use headphones or earbuds on both ears. (1 side is legal, but still a bad idea.)

          • Whamadoodle

            Uh… what? I’m responding to YOUR argument. If you hadn’t posted, I wouldn’t have addressed what you said.

            I am not saying that everyone behaves unsafely. Simply that there are too many among each group who behave unsafely. It sounds as if neither you nor I (unlike the panelist on the show) have the blind spot spoken of, anyway, and can both see that.

            As far as “flip this for enforcement,” I don’t know–what is the rationale for that?

          • Chris OConnell

            Well, I missed with that one. The thread is now convoluted and hard to follow, but when I replied to you, one other person responded to my original post saying it was a non-argument and completely off-topic so I was playing off of that.

            By flip for enforcement, dangerous driving should be the priority for enforcement followed by dangerous cycling followed by dangerous pedestrians. Drivers are essentially armored and present the greatest threat to others. Cyclists could endanger others but mostly they put themselves at risk (and they make drivers mad). And pedestrians present the least risk to others.

    • darelldd

      Why do you suppose car drivers expect to be treated like car drivers when THEY break the law? That one always confuses me, and it is why some folks here don’t understand your claim of “double standard.” It turns out that breaking the law doesn’t remove the right to use the road. If it did, there’d be nobody on the road.

      And if cyclists feel that a law should be changed for everybody’s benefit… shouldn’t they work toward that goal? Or just sit quietly and deal with it?

      Here’s an important aspect to consider when you say that drivers aren’t asking for the rules to be changed and cyclists are. It turns out that drivers don’t need to ask. Here in CA, our speed limits are set by… the people who break the posted speed limit law. So drivers who exceed the speed limit are literally setting our speeds. If we do not raise the speed limits on roads where most people speed, that road is not in “compliance” and radar cannot be used to catch speeders. The ticket will instantly be thrown out. The idea is that if 85% of drivers are speeding, then the current speed limit is too low for practical use. Fast forward to how most cyclists treat stop signs… and well… that 85% rule ONLY applies to drivers and speeding. Not to what most cyclists do. Why not? And is that maybe a double standard?

      There are more “rules of the road” than stopping at stop signs. But that seems to be what this is all about. All road users break the laws all the time. And we muddle through. 10’s of thousands of fatalities result from automobile collisions, and a handful result from bicycle collisions. At some point we have to agree that we have a square peg and round hole problem. Every bicycle stop sign crackdown that I’m aware of has resulted in… absolutely nothing but anger and frustration. Rider actions do not permanently change. So clearly something with the system is broken, and needs to be changed.

      What cyclists are looking for is not a double standard. What cyclists want is laws that are relevant to them, and infrastructure that is relevant to them. They don’t want to be stuck on infrastructure that is clearly built for automobiles, and they don’t want to follow laws that really don’t make sense for their size, speed and vulnerability. And for the most part pedestrians have that, and certainly drivers have that. How do I know this? Because I – like almost everybody in this country – is a driver, a cyclist and a pedestrian. Bicycles are not slow, little, two-wheeled cars, just like pedestrians are not slow, two-footed bicycles. Why don’t pedestrians need to stop at stop signs? Why do we lump bicycles in with cars when clearly they are much closer to pedestrians in speed, weight and vulnerability?

  • Jon Gold

    I’ve mostly ridden a bicycle, and sometimes a motorcycle and driven a car in SF for decades. And, yes, I’ve gotten tickets in each mode and every time I was in the wrong. Cyclists do not have some sort of ‘carte-blanche’ just because they’re pedaling around saving gas doing the right thing. Sure there is an intuitive rhythm to driving in SF, but the bottom line is; EVERYONE DRIVING OR CYCLING MUST FOLLOW THE RULES OF THE ROAD – SAFETY FIRST! STOP MEANS STOP.

    • Ray Fischer

      The rules of the road are designed for drivers – not for cyclists

      • Another Mike

        So I can just step off the curb at any time, and cross the street, trusting that vehicles can arrest their forward momentum enough to avoid hitting me?

  • trite

    And please take on the problem of cyclists riding on the sidewalk, endangering young and old alike.

  • Cody Tolmasoff

    Having commuted on bicycle for many years, the argument that it’s too much effort for someone to peddle from a stop and make it across an intersection in a timely manor is limp at best. The bicycle is one of the most efficient machines on the planet. I’m in average shape and I could always out accelerate a car though an intersection given the motivation to do so.

    The other issue that the Idaho stop leads to is that since so many bicyclists interpret the law as the stop is simply a yield for them (not a yield on right), this then leads to interpreting it as a yield on a red light. So many people who ride bikes in the city endanger pedestrians, themselves, and fellow motorists by disobeying the laws that apply to them because they imagine themselves as pedestrians who can just go wherever and whenever they want.

    Daily in my walks in downtown San Francisco I find myself constantly dodging people who just keep bending the bike rules a little more, and a little more because no one takes them to task or writes them a ticket.

    The Idaho stop might work there as there are many less people, but here where it’s so crowded it just very dangerous and incredibly selfish. Bikes are vehicles, they need to obey the same laws.

    • City Resident

      The frequency of stop signs and the length of the block plays a role in this discussion. For example, there are streets in the Richmond and Sunset districts (like Anza and Hugo) with short blocks and with stop signs at each block. I highly doubt that there’s a solely human powered bicycle that could compete with an automobile when it comes to speed (ie. from 0 mph back up to say 15-20 mph and then back to 0 mph, over and over).

      Clearly, some bicyclists have been unsafe and a very small number have been reckless. This discussion is helping to shine a light on this issue, raising awareness. I’d welcome a similar societal debate about unsafe automobile driving. As I walk about San Francisco, I feel much more imperiled by automobiles – why do we perceive things so differently?

      • Cody Tolmasoff

        Funny thing is “city resident”, I grew up in the sunset and learned how to ride my bike there. I’m very familiar with those streets.

        You are telling me that it’s too hard to start and stop a bike repeatedly? Well what if I tell you that starting and stopping a car is where all the fuel efficiency goes down. Starting and stopping a car causes more harm to our clean air, so maybe I shouldn’t have to stop my car? You know, because it causes wear and tear on my car and I cause more pollution doing so. Finding lazy justification is easy.

        But see here’s the kicker, yes there are a lot of bad drivers. I have personally been tapped by cars twice riding my bike in the city. There was even paint transfer on the kids seat I had mounted. I was lucky. I opt to be a pedestrian mostly now. Working downtown I not only have to be constantly on guard from the very large percentage of irresponsible bicycle riders who constantly ignore not only traffic laws riding in the street, but also the surprising amount of bicyclists who decide it’s ok to ride on the sidewalk. I would invite you to spend some time downtown during commute time.

        Maybe instead is spending all this effort to make it legal to let cyclists ignore common sense traffic laws, these efforts should be spent encouraging cyclists to be safer and more responsible. Let’s see more of that, then talk about what we can do for cyclists. Maybe is the majority of cyclists rode responsibly, we would all be more sympathetic to the idea of an Idaho stop?

        • Joseph Herbert

          Thank you so much.
          This perfectly underscores my point — not the facts, but rather your perspective:

          You wrote,
          “Maybe [if] the majority of cyclists rode responsibly, we would all be more sympathetic to the idea…”

          I think that, right now, there’s so much distrust and lack of confidence, on all sides.

          As you stated about your own experience riding a bicycle– for many who ride bicycles regularly, there is a
          also deep wish, a deep yearning for a feeling of safety, and of recognition, empathy,
          respect and trust.

          I believe a current predominant feeling
          among those who ride bicycles is fear, and a desire for assurance of
          trust and of their own safety.
          I believe that those who, in this forum (and elsewhere) expressing such wishes, generally do abide by the law.

          Not all people do, agreed. And far too many do not. This makes it difficult to create trust.

          Cody, I understand that you’d truly like to witness greater
          integrity, responsibility and caution from those whom you see riding
          bicycles. And driving cars, too.

          We *all* desire this — yes, we human beings do frequently make poor choices!

          now, it’s really important that we build trust in accountability — on
          all sides — before we (speaking as a larger community, both of those
          who drive automobiles, and those who ride bicycles, all of us, as a
          whole) will be able to move forward.

          Speaking as someone whose primary mode of transportation is bicycle, and who has in the past used to drive a car frequently:

          If we don’t create mutual trust, we’ll stay stuck in this conflict.

          I believe we can build trust.
          It’s never easy.
          and we can do it, if we learn how to listen to one another…. to truly see another’s perspective.

          This isn’t as simple as learning math, or science.

          of these facts — on all sides, from everyone — I believe are useless
          (at best), without human emotional context & shared trust:
          The point isn’t the facts.
          The “truth” and “facts” (although they are objectively true & valid) won’t help us.
          The point is the mutual trust, shared confidence and mutual empathy.

          Thank you for sharing your perspective. (I needed to read it a couple of times, before I understood more of the breadth of it– so thank you.)

          Some inspiration, perhaps:

  • geoff st.john

    I’ve ridden bicycles in SF. It’s pretty crazy. There are so many people riding. Many of them don’t respect other road users. The yield idea works pretty well in Idaho from what I’ve read. What about the density of cyclists playing a role in the viability of this law? Idaho and SF are pretty different probably. SF police are probably out there cracking down on bad behavior because people are getting hurt or worse. How do you get people to change their behavior and respect other road users? Give out a lot of tickets. That sends a clear message. Start taking people’s money (citations) and they’ll change their behavior.

    • Doug F

      Even a little observation will show you that the SFPD isn’t enforcing the traffic laws for anyone–drivers, cyclists or pedestrians. Too busy shaking down civilians for fajitas & not solving major felonies.

  • Jon Gold

    San Francisco’s no Idaho!!!

  • Another Mike

    Bicyclists yield the right of way to motorists at four-way stops?
    When did this start?
    Re predictability: some cyclists stop, while others do not. Motorists cannot predict what group any cyclist belongs to.

    • Ehkzu

      And the converse is true as well. Cyclists never know when a driver will slide through a stop on a sign or a red light–many drivers fail to come to a full stop. Others come to a stop but want the cyclist to go through when the driver has the right of way, which is often just as bad for the cyclist.

  • Ehkzu

    If a bicycle is simply a vehicle, and if cyclists should be expected to take on the same responsibilities as drivers–then cyclists should get the same rights as drivers and enjoy the full lane to themselves, with cops zealosly ticketing drivers who squeeze by cyclists in their lane.

    Is everyone here who wants cyclists treated the same as drivers will to accept the full consequences of their stance?

  • Noelle


  • Janet Prochazka

    Autos also don’t stop at stop signs.

    • Another Mike

      Do autos blow through stop signs as if they did not exist? Because that is what I see cyclists regularly do.

      • City Resident

        Unfortunately they do. I’ve seen this too many times to count. Do all motorists do this? Of course not. Cars blowing through stop signs and red lights is extremely dangerous. Red light cameras are one of the few deterrents to this, since the police obviously can not be everywhere.

        • Another Mike

          I have seen the “California stop,” where the driver brakes but does not arrest all forward momentum. I have never seen a car ignore a stop sign utterly.

          • Then you aren’t paying attention.

    • Sean Dennehy

      Are autos asking for a law allowing them to yield at stop signs? No? Then don’t bring them up.

    • Whamadoodle

      Autos too often California-stop at stop signs (which is just what the bicyclists are arguing they should be able to do), and too often ignore other traffic, it’s true.

      But I’ve never seen a car scream straight through a stop LIGHT without stopping, and narrowly miss a pedestrian (me, for instance), the way bikes in downtown SF do every single time I’m there.

  • Another Mike

    Cyclists slow down as they approach intersections?
    When did this start?

    • Since always.

      • Sean Dennehy

        What alternate universe do you live in and may I join.

        • It’s not an alternate universe. Most bicyclists do slow down when approaching stop signs. If you think otherwise, then it is you who is living in an alternate universe.

  • Ehkzu

    When will cops zealously ticket drivers who pass a cyclist in the same lane? After all, if bikes are the same as cars, we have a right to the whole lane we’re in. Fair is fair.

  • Whamadoodle

    No offense, but this guest is simply lying. Every DAY in downtown San Francisco, you can observe for yourself that bicyclists scream through stop LIGHTS, let alone stop signs, and as a pedestrian, yes I HAVE felt endangered by them. They’ve missed me by a foot and flipped me off when I’ve said “hey, there’s a stop light!”

    As to stop SIGNS, sure, I’m happy enough for them to be treated as yield signs *if there’s no cross traffic,* but again, I’ve seen unsafe ignoring of stop signs by cars, motorcycles, and bicycles (and pedestrians ignoring vehicles already on their way through the intersection) every day. I watched a father bicycle merrily through a stop sign with his two young daughters, very nearly hitting my car.

    Given the high percentage of bicycle-car collisions in which the bicyclist is at fault (I think the cars are more often at fault, but bicycles are at fault quite often too), the panelist’s assertion that there is simply no problem with unsafe bicycling is just false. As to the question of why aren’t we hearing about cyclists being a problem, well–we ARE hearing that. People do get killed and injured by bicycles. Yield safely, sure, but please quit screaming through stop signs and stop lights!

  • No_Slack_Jack

    As usual, the answer is more subtle and complex than simply allowing cyclists to “roll” stop signs. As a regular and avid cyclist, I can attest that under certain conditions, allowing cyclists to roll the stop signs is safer for cyclists because of the idea of momentum in the presence of vehicular traffic. In my experience, cyclists are safer when they are in motion (stability of gyroscopic motion) and the cyclists are also able to better maintain their power if they aren’t stop-starting. This concept is really about their better blending with moving traffic, and that is safer.

    The complexity comes about because there must be reasonable and safe application of the “roll.” Pedestrians, conflicting traffic, and SIGHT LINES are all key elements in successful application. Improved sight lines at intersections is important not just for cyclists, but also for pedestrians.

  • Kurenn Hisamoto

    I am a bicyclist and a driver. Most bicyclists are drivers but not all drivers are bicyclists. If you are a driver and not a bicyclist then your opinion has no place in this discussion. As a driver I always stop for a bicyclist and let them roll through a 4 way stop because I know it is much less challenging to stop completely and therefore less dangerous. In my opinion one should treat the bicyclist as a hybrid between a vehicle and a pedestrian. Most bicyclists, especially those who bicycle often, have bicycles with pedal clips where the bicyclist is more or less a part of the bicycle. To completely stop would mean to unclick from the pedal and place one’s feet on the ground and then to resume motion one has to re-click into the pedal. This can take time and can actually frustrate other drivers. As a bicyclist I may not always click and unclick smoothly and to do so abruptly can endanger my safety and therefore the others. It is safer for myself and others if I can remain clicked in the pedals, assess the situation and determine if I must unclick and make a complete stop. If not I should be able to yield and continue through the stop sign. If you are a bicyclist you would understand.

    • Whamadoodle

      “If you are a driver and not a bicyclist then your opinion has no place in this discussion”

      Um. No. Who the heck made THAT rule?

      By your logic, are pedestrians who don’t drive autos OR bike, but are narrowly missed by bicyclists when they try to cross a street (if not killed by them, as that guy was in SF last year), also prohibited from discussion of this?

    • Another Mike

      So you are saying that cyclists favor bicycles that cannot be safely ridden in traffic? That would suggest that cycles with pedal clips should be banned from the roads.

    • Robert Thomas

      “If you are a driver and not a bicyclist then your opinion has no place in this discussion.”

      You’re aware, aren’t you, that with the Disqus mechanism, you’re allowed to revise imbecilic strings of characters accidentally posted as comment?

  • Virginia

    And how do the driving conditions in a small, less populated state like Idaho equate the driving conditions in a dense, heavily populated city like San Francisco? Not a good comparison.

    • darelldd

      How does Paris look to you?

  • Robert Thomas

    Some years ago a companion and I were walking on Townsend when my friend was struck, while walking on the sidewalk, by a bicyclist riding up from behind us, riding on the sidewalk. The bicyclist was wearing a helmet and along with my friend tumbled over (along with the bike) and proceeded in their tumble a further twelve or fifteen feet. The cyclist got up, mounted his bike, LAUGHED at us and rode away.

    My companions injuries were not serious but not negligible. After being summarily dismissed by the SFPD (“What do you want us to do?”), for some time afterword, my friend tried to find what agency to report this incident but failed to do this.

    I don’t trust statistics anyone cites on bicycle – pedestrian collisions.

    • Ray Fischer

      So now you want vengeance

      • Robert Thomas

        I have no such desire. I think the “Idaho stop” idea probably isn’t unreasonable.

        I just don’t believe the statistics about bike – pedestrian collisions.

        I was struck myself while stepping off a VTA bus on Wolfe Road in Sunnyvale, by a cyclist who decided to ride up onto the sidewalk rather than wait for the bus to proceed or to enter the traffic lane to the left of the bus. Once on the sidewalk, he sped up and tried to ride between the stopped bus and the bus stop bench just as the bus doors opened and I stepped out. Miraculously, I wasn’t injured and the banged-up cyclist apologized profusely this time; he then rode away. I’ve been scarily “brushed” a couple of other times in the South Bay, every time by a cyclist on the sidewalk. Each time, I’ve tried to report the incident in some meaningful way and each time, like my friend struck in SF, I have found no way to meaningfully do this.

        • Ray Fischer

          People who refuse to accept the facts are either more committed to their prejudices than the truth, or are mentally-ill conspiracy crackpots.

          • Robert Thomas

            Undoubtedly so. So what?

            With respect to the case;

            “[Massachusetts’] records on pedestrian accidents in Boston capture only a fraction of such accidents here.”

            “Most Boston pedestrian accidents go unreported – Lack of information puts crimp in safety efforts”
            By Nestor Ramos
            Boston Globe, August 19, 2014

            “‘It has been my experience that people tend to only report a bicycle accident to the police when there is an injury or major damage,’ [UTPD crime prevention officer William] Pieper said. ‘Most bicycle accidents go unreported by the parties involved.'”

            “Most bike collisions go unreported on campus”
            By Natalie Sullivan
            The Daily Texan, (UT Austin) October 1, 2014

            “It is hard to gauge how many cyclist-pedestrian collisions truly take place in the city every year because most go unreported.”

            “Pedestrian Suing Cyclist After Collision On Dearborn Street”
            By Rachel Cromidas
            Chicagoist, Jun 5, 2015

            “This study has not furnished any evidence which could be used to apportion responsibility. But it has underscored the fact that pedestrian-cyclist accidents are far more common occurrences than previously thought…”

            “Pedestrian-Cyclist Accidents in New York State: 2007-2010”
            Tuckel, Milczarski et al., Departments of Sociology and Urban Planning & Affairs, Hunter College, September 2011

            “Collisions between bikes and pedestrians are surprisingly dangerous and more common than many people expect. While exact numbers are difficult to find, since many bike accidents go unreported…”

            “Pedestrian-Bicycle Collisions in Illinois”
            By Ken Apicella
            DGAA bLAWg, March 6, 2014

            etc., etc.

          • Joseph Herbert

            @disqus_yVRUctuOin:disqus, @disqus_JguYD79xL9:disqus: I think the two of you are vehemently ///agreeing.///
            Could you please stop?

            As I see it, you’re both pointing out entirely valid points from multiple perspectives.

            My belief is that our main issue, as homo sapiens, isn’t the //facts// themselves — it’s which facts are personally and subjectively important to us.

            I think that both of you bring up extremely valid, legitimate, relevant and highly important perspectives. Let’s not squash on each other because we’re upset. Yes, this is a very complex situation, with multiple variables, Robert I agree with your questioning of the statistics and I honor your personal experiences as totally valid. Lacey, I completely with you also (being a cyclist myself!).

            I think what you’re both saying is that we *all* could be better about putting others’ safety as //equal to// our own — not better, but precisely as important (neither more nor less) than our own safety.

            And yes, Lacey, and Robert, I agree that when there is inadequate infrastructure in place, it tends to create conflict and make life more difficult for everyone.

            An ethics professor in a class once shared with me,
            “Ethical dilemmas are such that multiple persons, of reasonable intelligence, can find it difficult to agree on a solution (given the circumstances).”

            This is why they’re called dilemmas! Yes, having a sidewalk but not a bike-lane is a dilemma! I don’t see any *easy* answers here that work for *everyone.* Hence, the solution is better infrastructure.

            What do we do in the meantime? I don’t know. I think that this is one of those hairy situations which frankly sucks for everyone concerned.

            What better reason to lobby our local council-members and say,
            “Hey– pedestrians and bicyclists are TOGETHER on this! We need bike lanes, for *everyone’s* sake!!!”

            So let’s stop playing the blame game. Let’s start listening, and agreeing. Lacey, you are so totally right. Robert, you are so totally right. These are all true, valid and relevant points, I believe.

        • Lacey

          I’m a cyclist and the only reason I EVER ride on the sidewalk is when there are inadequate bicycle accommodations (bike lanes) in the street. I don’t want to get run over or have someone open their car door in front of me (I’ve come close these things happening more times than I can count). The safer choice in scenarios like these is for the cyclist to ride on the sidewalk. I’m sorry but you potentially getting knocked into/over is not more important than me potentially getting run over. The problem is inadequate bike accommodations on the road. People would feel safer riding on the road if there was room for them there– and if there’s no room they’ll choose the safest option, which is riding on the sidewalk.

          • Robert Thomas

            I acknowledge and appreciate your frustration with the absence in many places of reasonable safe accommodation for bicycle traffic. It’s not unsafe for cyclists to use the sidewalk for brief transit, at reduced speed, while maneuvering around obstructions etc. and at night to do so if well provided with head and tail lights.

            I also agree that your not colliding with a motor vehicle is not less heinous than it is for me to be struck by a cyclist.

            But the sidewalk pavement was designed and the laws provide for its use by pedestrians. The roadway pavement was designed and the law provides for its use by vehicular traffic. If a locale isn’t amenable to safe cycling, your alternative is to walk, as I do.

            If you demand to use the sidewalk for cycling (as on a roadway) when there’s no room because it’s “the safest option,” that’s a mistake. You may walk, as I do. Making such a demand is merely inconsideration and the feckless taking of unfair advantage, in order to satisfy an appetite. This kind of decision is banal – it’s encountered every day. It’s endemic and undistinguished.

          • Lacey

            Are you able to see (and this is to all readers) that cyclists are ultimately being told to get off the road and also to get off the sidewalk? (and don’t tell me that I am welcome on the sidewalk, but only if I walk– then I am no longer cycling, hence a “cyclist;” I am then a pedestrian. This argument is the equivalent of being welcome to use the road, but only in a car). And ultimately, the solution is to find a way to accommodate cyclists, not on the road with cars, not on the sidewalk with pedestrians, but in a SEPARATED, PROTECTED BIKE LANE? That way, we are in no one’s “way”

          • Robert Thomas

            The inconvenience you suffer when the roadway isn’t amenable for cycling is not an excuse for riding on the sidewalk.

            You write,

            “This argument is the equivalent of being welcome to use the road, but only in a car.”

            There are places where I’m not allowed to walk, as on many expressways and on freeways and so forth. When I used the Lawrence Expressway CalTrain station, it would have saved me an extra half mile each way to walk on Lawrence expressway in Santa Clara. As a policeman warned me, this is prohibited. Asserting that laws and circumstances ought to be different from the way they are is no excuse for violating them or for endangering other people. Honorable civil disobedience is an option, if one submits willingly to law enforcement. But it’s still no excuse for endangering others.

          • Lacey

            It’s not illegal to ride a bike on the sidewalk. My point was clear: You, as a pedestrian, are saying I am not welcome to ride my bicycle on the sidewalk. Drivers are saying I am not welcome in the road. So what is your solution? I offered up a great one. And I wouldn’t quite call my choice of riding on the sidewalk due to an inconvenience: more like I chose to get off the road and onto the sidewalk for my own safety. Sorry my safety is an inconvenience for you. And FYI, I do ride slowly on the sidewalk, there are too many obstacles to go fast, and so it’s unsafe. If it’s very crowded, I do dismount. But I don’t want to do any of those things– I really want to just ride in a protected bike lane. When you say what you’re saying, cyclists hear “I don’t care about you, i just don’t want you on the sidewalk” with no larger picture in mind of what that means or WHY the cyclist is even on the sidewalk in the first place. It shows a complete lack of foresight, understanding, and empathy

          • Robert Thomas

            I don’t think I lack any of understanding, foresight or empathy.

            If you find legal cycling unsafe in a district, I recommend that you do as I do, and walk. I appreciate that you ride carefully when on the sidewalk and at moderate speed.

            I don’t appreciate being approached silently from behind by cyclists riding on the sidewalk who whip around me; I don’t appreciate being approached head-on at night while walking on the sidewalk by cyclists unaware that they’re impossible to see in oncoming motor vehicle headlights; I don’t appreciate cyclists who blast across crosswalks inches from me while I’m trying to walk across the street in the crosswalk, with the proper signal.

            Whatever “drivers are saying”, it IS legal for you to bicycle on the roadway.

            On the other hand, it IS an offense of the law for adults to bicycle on the sidewalk in San Francisco. As I say, my view is that riding your bike on the sidewalk at a reduced speed to traverse a difficult confined area such as a construction site or circling a commercial vehicle blocking the roadway etc. is not offensive.

            But in California, municipalities can restrict the use of sidewalks by cyclists. In San Francisco, I see that according to the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition,

            It’s illegal to ride on the sidewalk if you are over the age of 13. (SF Transportation Code Sec. 7.2.12)[KQED Newsfix reports the cutoff age is 14]
            In the crosswalk or not, bike riders and drivers are required to yield to pedestrians. (CVC 21954 (b))

            “Rules of the Road”

            “In Oakland, you can ride on a sidewalk if your bicycle has wheels of less than 20 inches in diameter or a frame of less than 14 inches in length.”

            “Bicycle Safety on Bay Area Roads: Five Laws to Remember”
            By Laird Harrison
            KQED Newsfix, May 3, 2013

            Where I often walk in Sunnyvale,

            10.56.140. Riding on sidewalks and overhead pedestrian crossings—Prohibited.
            (b) Children under the age of thirteen years or persons sixty-two years of age or older may ride and operate their bicycles in single file upon any sidewalk, except sidewalks adjacent to schools, store buildings or other buildings used for commercial purposes, subject to their exercising due care and giving any pedestrian the right-of-way. Any individual regardless of age may ride a bicycle on a sidewalk if riding upon the adjacent street would place the cyclist in an unsafe situation. (Ord. 2721-03 § 6; Ord. 2524-95 § 1; Ord. 1215 § 1, 1961; Ord. 876 § 1, 1961; prior code § 3-2.13).

            San Diego, Palo Alto, Gilroy, San Jose in its downtown area and many other municipalities disallow sidewalk cycling in business district also, I read.

          • Lacey

            And just to throw an example out there, sometimes in construction zones, sidewalks are blocked off, and pedestrians are detoured to cross the street and then cross back later; this is an annoying inconvenience, and many pedestrians just walk in the road along the blocked off sidewalk in the street– it’s human nature, and a proven behavior. This is how cyclists feel whenever there is no protected bike lane accommodating them, and why they may choose to ride on the sidewalk (the equivalent minor inconvenience in this case would be dismounting and walking– or the inconvenience is transferred to the cars when the cars are forced to go at a slower speed behind the cyclist– though cars may still try to squeeze past the cyclist which is extremely dangerous for the cyclist, and why they elect to go on the sidewalk). Understand now?

          • Robert Thomas

            I’m imperfect, but I try to follow directions in situations like the one you describe.

            I understand all of this, quite well.

            I understand that some people demand the license to inconvenience, imperil and offend others in order to satisfy their selfish personal imperatives and are incensed when they’re called out on their immoral choices.

      • Liz

        How is that vengeance? Robert didn’t even give an opinion, he merely stated a bad experience and lack of trust for statistics.

  • Mark SF

    I think on daily commutes bicyclist should use the full lane when no bicycle lane is available and come to a stop at stop signs and lights. This will cause more grid lock but cyclist will be following all rules and have less chance of being doored or hitting pedestrians J walking or in the crosswalk.

  • Kathryn

    Hi. Please factor in that Idaho cycling does not take place in near the urban density and with near the number of riders as San Francisco. I have cycled in large cities from Seattle to Portland to Honolulu to San Francisco. SF is the least safe and courteous environment for riding I have experienced. When I obey traffic signs and lights, other cyclists pass me by – approaching a sideswipe and with no warning. Too many riders treat signs and lights as suggestions. I don’t envision changing the rules from STOP to YIELD making any difference.

    Where is the SF Bicycle Coalition on this? Thank you!

    • amatulic

      That’s a very good point — I have heard no evidence that what works in low-density Idaho will also work in high-density San Francisco, other than the claim “bicyclists have always done it”. We wouldn’t be talking about the subject if it wasn’t causing any problems. As I said in another post, my own observations suggest that the “5%” number is actually much higher.

      • Anony

        It’s already happening in our streets. Making it legal to do ‘rolling stops’ is more of an administrative affair so police cannot ticket bicycles for doing it when it is safe to roll though the stop.

        I completely support police when they ticket people for rolling though stops when bikes don’t have the right of way however.

      • Donovan Lacy

        So if I could give you an example of a city that had more than 3 times the population density than San Francisco and had already instituted the “Idaho Stop” would you change your mind?

        6633 people/km²
        20700 people/km²

        Can you guess which of these San Francisco and which is Paris?

        • amatulic

          Apples and oranges. If Paris has instituted this, is it really working for them? Or are their bicyclists as bad as their drivers, who tend to ignore traffic signals at their convenience anyway? A Paris resident once told me “a green light means go if you can, a red light means just be more careful.”

          • It’s working for them. The thing about the Idaho stop law is that it just legalizes what most people are already doing.

          • Mary Malone

            And that is a good thing? Perhaps Idaho needs less-lazy officers if their only recourse is to make something illegal into something legal.

          • Donovan Lacy

            amatulic, I am not sure I understand why it is apples and oranges. Other than the fact that they live in France and we live in the United States. I tend to look at statistics and data rather than anecdotes. I believe that we would want to emulate France who have roughly half the traffic deaths of the US when controlled for population (France – 3250 deaths / 65M population vs. 32,700 deaths / 325M population).

        • Rommel Alfonso

          The bike culture in Paris, france in general is better instituted than in the US. US traffic culture is less accomodating even to pedestrians let alone bikers. Just less accommodating in general. Car drivers seem like they can’t get figure out who has priority on the road among cars. Idaho stop law seems like it would implement another level of heirarchy that would now have to consider. Cars to cars to bikers. To bikers to walkers. Its hard to get everyone on the same page.

          • Donovan Lacy

            Fair enough, but lets not forget that Paris instituted many of their current policies in the last 8-10 years. Change can be hard, but when it is for the greater good, I think that it is worth pursuing.

            The topic of the Idaho / Paris stop is in the news now primarily because of a recent crackdown by the SFPD on bicyclists rolling through stop signs, which is a fairly innocuous behaviour and far less dangerous than many other actions that are carried out on a daily basis by motorist. Given the finite resource of our police force, we would hope that they could focus on these more dangerous activities. One way to help them do this would be to legalize the Idaho / Paris which would eliminate the distraction of enforcing this offence altogether by making it legal.

          • Mary Malone

            It isn’t hard to “get everyone on the same page.” If everyone follows the rules/regulations, then everyone will be on the same page.

          • Donovan Lacy


          • Joseph Herbert

            I disagree — because to me, “on the same page” means more than just actions/behaviors, it’s also about perceptions/understanding.
            I believe that helping effectively each other gain shared understanding & perceptions is one of the most difficult, challenging things in this world to do.

    • darelldd

      The state might be low density, but they have plenty of big cities that are quite dense.

      And we already know how it works in SF. On a daily basis, there are few full stops by cycilsts (or drivers for that matter), and the city continues to function. If every cycilst were to stop and take his turn through the intersection individually… the city comes to a stand-still. Or maybe even better, if every cyclists chooses to drive a car instead of ride… well, SF is doomed. We have to figure out how to make this work for everybody.

  • I live one block off of the Wiggle, and I’m at the busy intersection of Church and Duboce almost every day, frequently after shopping at Safeway with my arms laden with packages. There are two MUNI trains–the N and the J–navigating that intersection, and the 22 Fillmore. I *rarely*, and I do mean rarely, see bicycles flagrantly speeding through the intersection, or causing either cars or pedestrians any difficulty whatsoever. I just haven’t seen the “terrible horrible” cyclist behaviors so dramatically described by the anti-bike folk.

    What I HAVE seen going on in this debate is a rather odd and anger-filled ultra-authoritarian tendency amongst *some* of the anti-bike people who are quite desperate to make their point. They cling to the “but but but they’re BREAKING THE LAW” argument, exhibiting an undue obsession with making sure that everyone else is toeing the line perfectly at all times.

    I think that it is totally reasonable, and probably the safest way to go, for cyclists to heed the “Idaho stop” rule. Let’s do it, and be done. But if this is actually made into The Law, what then will the authoritarian-fixated segment of the anti-bike crowd have to justify their intense dislike of cyclists in general?

    • for the record, i think most of us aren’t anti-bike. if i had the confidence to ride my bike on city streets, i would. i think bikes are great. i for one am more anti-divisiveness.. i think the trick is to realize we all want to make the streets safe for everyone; we’ve just got different ideas and sometimes those ideas seem to point the finger at everyone else but ourselves.

    • Jesse

      There’s also a class of people who are pro-bike and pro-safety—like me. I live close to the wiggle, I bike a lot and was previously an SFBC member, and I have to say I do see “terrible horrible” cyclist behaviors pretty regularly. Cyclists approaching a 4-way stop with cars and other cyclists waiting in all 3 directions, not slowing down but swerving through with a maneuver that appears designed to allow them to avoid getting hit if someone else tries to exercise their right of way.

      Yes this behavior is a small minority of cyclists. But it happens enough to make all cyclists seem unpredictable and therefore dangerous to other road users.

      I’m all for the Idaho Stop law. That would help by bringing most cyclists’ behavior into strict compliance with the law. But it won’t solve the problem of the flagrant violators. Yes for Idaho Stops, and yes for an increase in enforcement of the flagrant violators.

      • “Yes this behavior is a small minority of cyclists. But it happens enough to make all cyclists seem unpredictable and therefore dangerous to other road users.”

        It’s funny that all the motorists who speed, fail to signal, tailgate, roll stop signs, etc. doesn’t reflect badly on all motorists. Why do you think that is?

        People complain about bad cyclists and generalize to all cyclists because they have an agenda against all bicyclists. It’s confirmation bias and it’s dishonest.

        • Jesse

          Speeding, failing to signal, tailgating, rolling through stop signs are all annoying and somewhat dangerous but ultimately are relatively minor offenses. When it comes to really flagrant violations, like flying through a stop sign at full speed or a stop light that’s been red for a while, I think cyclists violate at a much higher rate than motorists do. I’m just guessing here, but it seems to me that maybe 1 in 100 cyclists who approach a stop sign fly through at full speed, while the number for motorists is 1 in 1000 or 10,000. As a result, when talking about flagrant violations, cyclists seem unpredictable in comparison with motorists.

          Let me be clear that I’m saying this as a cyclist myself and a cycling advocate. I think cycling in the city would be much safer if we as a cycling community did a better job of self policing. Why do we need to defend the scofflaws among us? I don’t like the fact that motorists often feel antagonistic toward cyclists, and I think that defending scofflaw cyclists contributes to that antagonism. We’ll put ourselves in a much better position if we deal with our problems rather than pretending they don’t exist.

          • It’s going to depend a lot on the stop signs. I know of stop signs that it’s pretty common to see motorists blow through because there’s almost never any cross traffic. Yes, bicyclists are more likely to blow through those two.

            I also see stop signs that motorists almost never roll, because there’s almost always cross traffic. I don’t see bicyclists blowing through those either. It’s too risky.

            The fact is that most of the bicyclists I see rolling stop signs do make sure that it’s clear first before going through. That’s because they aren’t suicidal.

            I also see a lot of motorist who slow down to roughly bicycle speed when rolling a stop sign. Yeah, they slow down but they’re still going 10-15mph.

            I hardly ever see a bicyclist holding a cell phone. I see motorists do it every time I’m on the road. I also see a lot of motorists running red lights. I saw 4 just today (in a row).

            Tailgating is actually very dangerous and far too common. It sets up most rear end collisions. Pretending that it’s relatively minor is disingenuous. Speeding isn’t that minor either. It reduces available reaction times and increases the severity of crashes.

          • Donovan Lacy

            Speeding, failing to signal, tailgating, rolling through stop signs may all be annoying and relatively minor offenses when it comes to the general perception and ticketing, but these activities injure and kill a lot more people annually then do cyclists blowing a stop sign.

          • Jesse

            Totally true, but you’re missing the point. Scofflaw cyclists may not directly injure many people, but by antagonizing motorists they create (or at least contribute to) an adversarial road culture. It’s not safe for me to ride, no matter how careful and safe I am personally, if motorists see me as an adversary by association.

            You can argue that it’s really the motorists’ fault if you want. But they’re still the ones driving the big dangerous motor vehicles, and I don’t want them to see me as an adversary. So how do we create a more positive, cooperative road culture? If you think education campaigns will do the trick, then I guess we can try that. But I suspect that creating an image of cycling as a legitimate, respectful, law-abiding use of our shared public resources will go much further, and we can do that from within the cycling community.

          • Joseph Herbert

            I’m reminded of (my vague impressions of) Dr. Martin Luther King Jr’s work in civil rights & nonviolent action. Also the book “Black Like Me.” Don’t give anyone an excuse nor reason to think of you as confirming their own belief. Act with integrity.

          • Jesse

            I like that association and the re-wording. Thanks!

          • Joseph Herbert

            P.S. Also reminded (completely different topic!) of this:
            “Geek Social Fallacy of Sex# 4:
            Drama is always worse than the thing the drama is about.

            Drama’s never fun, but it beats the fuck out of suppressing real issues.

            In my time in geek circles, I’ve seen reports of sexual harassment and
            even outright assault silenced with “well, I don’t want to make drama”
            or “but whatever, that’s just drama.” A woman in the group is a sexual
            predator? Gosh, I don’t spread gossip. A man needs to be
            disinvited from parties because he’s repeatedly threatened people at
            them? No, kicking him out would make a scene, it would make drama.

            [Continued, with replacements for “sex” and “sexuality” with “cyclists” and “bicycling”, below.]

            In geek [bicycling] communities,

            **** the illusion of smooth functioning and of
            everyone being [pro-cyclist and loyal to the cause] can supersede people’s
            needs for comfort and safety.***

            [emphasis, and replacement, are mine (Joseph’s)]

            A lot of this has to do with the
            “Ostracizers are Evil” Geek Social Fallacy, but it gets worse when you add [transportation and climate change]
            to the mix,
            because defensiveness about our non-traditional [transportation]
            suppresses important issues [about safety] even further.

            [-joseph’s note: replaced “sexuality” with “transportation, above]

            Like, if you admit that
            people violate boundaries [of safety and/or legality, e.g. are reckless]
            in [bicycling] circles,
            then you’re admitting that [bicycling] isn’t a perfect haven of [anything],

            and that’s just
            going to play right into the mainstream idea that [cyclists break laws / are reckless]!

            So we end up defending [cyclists who blow stop signs] to prove [cycling] isn’t [reckless/unsafe].

            “Drama” is a trivializing word.

            Let’s try “conflict,” instead. “I
            don’t want to treat him any differently just because he [sometimes blows stop signs | yells at motorists], that would cause conflict.”

            For me [Joseph], replacing the word “drama” with the word “conflict” doesn’t sound so superior and level-headed, by comparison.
            What do you think?

            Here’s the original article — on geek social fallacies, as pertain to sex/relationships:

          • Donovan Lacy

            I agree that there is a percentage of cyclist that do really stupid things on the roadway and they drive motorists, pedestrians and other cyclists, including me, crazy. They should be ticketed and held accountable for their dangerous activities.

            You make a great point, but shouldn’t those individuals that pose the biggest threat have the biggest responsibility. There are an equal percentage and ultimately a much larger number of motorists that do really stupid things on the roadway and they create a much larger threat to everyone’s well being, including their own. They are not called Scofflaw motorist, and when they hit another automobile, bicycle or pedestrian, it is called an accident, and does create the same vilification.

            I agree that we should be educating everyone on the safe and courteous use of out roadways, but if your premise of scofflaw cyclists creating the negative image for all cyclists was the truly the cause, shouldn’t we expect scofflaw motorist to create the same vilification of motorists?

          • Br0dy

            They also have insurance so when those accidents happen whoever is not at fault is protected. They have license plates so they can be easily identified and therefore hopefully more accountable. I personally wish bicyclist were required to have license plates on their bicycles for easy identification and be required to carry some form of insurance in case of casualties to pedestrians or accidents with other bicyclist, pedestrians or motorcycles or motorist. By having this responsibility cyclists would think twice before unclipping their bike shoes with metal clips and kicking cars because they would now be identifiable and accountable for damage or laws they break.
            DMV laws are created for all modes of transportation including bicycles.

          • Donovan Lacy

            Although you did not address my point that motor vehicles and bicyclists are seen in completely different lights even though they both behavior badly on the road, I will address your point regarding insurance.

            Homeowner’s or renter’s insurance will often pay for
            compensatory damage caused by the insured while participating in a covered occurrence, such as a sporting activity, which bicycle riding is considered.

            So while you won’t be able to recover money from the
            bicyclist’s car insurance policy, you may be able to recover money from his homeowner’s or renter’s insurance policy.

            The flip side of that is that 25% of motorists in California are uninsured and 18% of automobile accidents in California are hit and run, so there are a lot of automobile accidents on the road that motorists are not being held accountable for damages or laws they break.

            DMV laws are created for all modes of transportation including bicycles and motor vehicles, and if motorists were held to the standard that you are suggesting for bicyclists, there would be a lot of motorist sitting through traffic school.

          • Br0dy

            Well thank you for that piece of information, I was aware that my homeowner insurance pays if my bike is stolen however I was not aware it covered possible accidents while in my bike. My side of this is that I live in the Wiggle and when I walk my dog U have been hit 3 times by bicyclist my dog hit once while crossing the street and I stop and check directions before crossing. I am not looking at a device in fact when walking my or other dogs I make it a habit to not be in my phone at all. I bring this up because on all but 1of the times I was hit the person stopped and came back to check and see if I was ok. By having license plates it would have made them identifiable and I think that creates a sense of safety and accountability. I do appreciate your response and simply want all modes of transportation to be safe for everyone. Again thank you for the dialogue.

          • Donovan Lacy

            I am sorry to hear about your interactions with cyclists. It is good to hear that they cyclists did take responsibility for their actions.

            I can’t say that I agree with the licensing, but we can agree to disagree.

            I appreciate the dialogue as well. It is nice, if all too unusual to be able to have an intelligent courteous dialogue on the internet.

          • Br0dy

            Be well and I agree Thank You for the kind and courteous dialogue

          • Jesse

            Yep, again you’re right, it’s not fair. Scofflaw motorists don’t get the same level of public scrutiny that scofflaw cyclists do. But I care more about safety than fairness, and I think the bicycling community would be in a better position if we stopped defending bad behavior by cyclists.

          • Donovan Lacy

            I agree. I am certainly not defending bad behavior by cyclists. If you are concerned about safety, then you would agree that we should be focusing scarce SFPD resources on the behavior that causes the most injuries and fatalities.

            The data is readily available that the five most dangerous activities on the road are all motor vehicle activities:

            1) Drivers running red lights
            2) Running stop signs
            3) Violating pedestrian right-of-way
            4) Committing turning violations; and
            5) Speeding.

            We even have an initiative as part of Vision Zero SF called Focus on the Five, with a goal to have half their traffic citations be for these five violations.

            And yet SFPD is focusing their resources on cracking down on bicycles rolling stop signs. Where is the crack down on SFPD ignoring data and their own initiatives?

  • Judi

    in Switzerland, they have separate lanes for cars and bicycle. If we can just do that, would that solve all the stop sign or collision issue?

    • Doug F

      Hardly, because 1) on many narrow SF streets, there isn’t room, & 2) separate bike lanes or paths still have to cross roads with car traffic, frequently.
      German & Dutch cities put bike paths even on narrow sidewalks. It works there ’cause there are lots more cyclists, so pedestrians & drivers are used to looking out for them, & drivers flunk their driving test if they don’t signal & check their right mirror & over their shoulder for cyclists, every time, before turning right.

  • Karen Wanker

    I live in Oakland and walk to work in Berkeley down MLK, it is a toss up whether i will be run over by a grown adult hauling tail down the sidewalk or running a stop sign when i am in the crosswalk and the drivers on their cell phones. Bicyclists shooting accross crosswalks in front of drivers is also very common. As is distracted cycling (texting/talking on the phone) while riding. Bicyclists should have to obey the law which should be better enforced not weakened. And if you don’t have the cojones to ride in the street then walk. The only people riding bikes on the sidewalk at most should be small children and the very elderly and only if they go slow.

    • darelldd

      Should the drivers also be confined to the two choices of either:
      1. operating their vehicles safely or
      2. walking?

      Or is this choice only for the cyclists?

      If you don’t have the cojones to walk amongst the crazy cyclists and motorists, maybe you should stay home? See how that sounds when turned around a bit? Blaming the most vulnerable doesn’t play all that well with me.

      Non-cyclists keep telling cyclists that they need to obey the law and basically stay the hell out of the way. How would you feel if pedestrians were told the same thing?

      • Karen Wanker

        Yes drivers and pedestrians should be required to face the same choice and are. You have heard of Jay walking tickets right? Regardless, it is a sidewalk not a side street. If bicyclists on sidewalks were courteous and used bells, etc like in Europe it would be much less of an issue. I have been almost run down by cyclists on the sidewalk on streets with bike lanes lol. Just asking for people to respect others. You seem a bit defensive what’s up with that? And btw I have been a driver, a biker and a cyclist so seen all sides.

        • darelldd

          I’m not sure you got my subtle point… in that there are of course automobile drivers who do NOT operate their vehicles safely, and are afraid of running over those rogue cyclsists… and they choose to keep driving.

          I’m not so much defensive as I am curious as to why – with your equal experience in all modes of transportation – that you choose to point out how cyclists are pretty much the biggest threat we all face on our daily travels, and how they should change their behavior. Even in the face of all contrary evidence. One day I’ll figure out why we turn a blind eye to the things that kill us, and instead concentrate on those things that may annoy and inconvenience us.

          • Mary Malone

            There are a$$hats in every group of people you can name. That doesn’t give you the right to be an a$$hat, too, especially when it comes to the safety of others.

            Follow the danged rules and don’t use others not doing so as a reason for you to break the rules.

          • darelldd

            I’m not sure where you are getting the idea that I am involved in, nor encouraging this “justified breaking of the rules.”

            I am – again – pointing out just what you pointed out. That it is not only cyclists who break rules. It is people who break them. Sometimes they’re on foot, sometimes they’re on a bike, sometimes in a car. Nowhere have I said nor implied that this gives any other mode of transportation the right to break the rules. I will point out that those people who are in cars kill many orders of magnitude more people than those on foot or bike. And that our energies should be aimed at fixing that problem before the others that keep being brought up.

            I just get tired of the implication that cyclists cause all our transportation problems, and that as a group, they break all laws and terrorize everybody else on the road.


          • Karen Wanker

            I am not saying they are the biggest threat to pedestrians, just that they are a threat and in some areas equally as much as a car. I fully advocate having bike lanes (and cyclists actually using them) and would like to see it handled more like it is in Europe. Whether you are using feet, 2 wheels or 4 wheels, people need to respect others. Cars hit bikes, cyclist gets hurt. Bikes hit pedestrians, pedestrians get hurt. Pedestrian hits pedestrian, no-one gets hurt unless a brawl breaks out. One needs to be mindful of the power and speed at which you are operating. After my previous post, while walking to lunch, i was again nearly run down by a large man blowing through a stop sign on his bike. C’mon now, really? Just use common sense people.

      • Mary Malone

        Here’s an idea. How about folks simply following the laws/regulations and quit trying to make excuses for their illegal behavior by claiming it is justified because “everybody else is doing it.” I wouldn’t buy that false argument from a child, and certainly wouldn’t from an adult.

        • darelldd

          Great idea. And I don’t see anybody here doing that.

          The point I’m making that seems to be confusing is that it isn’t just cyclists breaking the rules as many here seem to imply. I’m not using that fact to justify breaking the rules as a cyclist.

  • Another Mike

    I get angry at cyclists who buzz through red lights and stop signs, placing their lives in danger, and requiring me to take emergency evasive action.

  • Mark SF

    There are a number of car drivers out there intimidating or trying to kill cyclist. I have had a number of incidents where I am following the laws and drivers have tried to hurt me by running me off the road or pinning to parked cars.
    Yesterday, I had a white car a number of times swerve into my path intentionally. A couple weeks ago it was a guy in a truck.

    • dj

      I ride with a club on the Peninsula almost every weekend. We generally have much better sight lines at intersections, and the stop signs are more spread out. A “roll” law might be safer in that environment, but it still sends the wrong message about sharing the road.

      Up here in the city, people riding the panhandle bike path seem relatively careful, but elsewhere it’s the wild west. A driver looking for cars and pedestrians in three other directions can’t reasonably be expected to see a cyclist careening down a hill without stopping.

      The solution should be way more enforcement (all vehicles) rather than favors to particular users.

      • Mark SF

        Oh, I agree about enforcing the law for all vehicles. This post was
        about cars intentionally trying to hurt or kill cyclist. I now use a
        small Mobius video camera now and I caught yesterday this white car intentionally swerving into my path multiple times. Unfortunately, it was a new car without a license plate.

        I think if there in no bicycle lanes, bicycles should take up one full lane and stop at stop signs and
        lights as they are legally entitled to and suppose to do. It would be
        safer from getting doored, J walking pedestrians, or pedestrians in a
        crosswalk. It would slow down car traffic so they would not speed. Yes
        everyone should follow all traffic rules.

        • dj

          I posted in the wrong place; sorry. I’m also sorry to hear about the vehicular rage incident. The camera is a good idea. Be careful.

    • Doug F

      Ride with your phone in a handlebar bracket, recording video. That way, even if you get gooshed by a car, there’ll be a record of who did it usable as evidence.

      • Mark SF

        I now use a small Mobius video Actioncamera . Yesterday I caught this white car intentionally swerving into my path multiple times on video camera. Unfortunately, it was a new car without a license plate.

        Two weeks ago a guy in a truck sped by me less than a foot in golden gate park. Really speeding. I latter passed him because of traffic and did nothing to provoke him or make any indication what he did was wrong. He latter swerve into the bicycle lane in front of the conservatory of flowers going between parked cars.

        I have other stories worst than that.

  • Trace Wendell

    It says a lot about our car culture that we are even having the discussion of equating 2-ton, fossil-fuel powered vehicles with human-powered cyclists. Walkers, cyclists and skateboarders should ALWAYS take precedence over cars.

  • Beth Grant DeRoos

    Its the snarky comments Morgan Fitzgibbons is making that suggests its MEN on bicycles like HIM who are the problem.

  • trite

    How can the pedestrian gauge what the cyclist will do if there is only a yield law for cyclists? The pedestrian will be far more at risk if this policy is put into effect.

    • Not really. In reality, the Idaho stop is the de facto behavior already. Having it won’t change things all that much except that current behavior will be legalized.

      • Sean Dennehy

        Just because something is the de facto behavior doesn’t mean it should be legalized or encouraged. That’s not how reasoning works.

        • gneiss

          Actually, it is. Just look up how speed limits are decided for city streets based on the 85th percentile of driver speed.

          If, after a traffic study determines that the 85th percentile of drivers are going faster than the existing speed limit, then the entity that has jurisdiction over that street is required to increase the speed limit. http://www.thenewspaper.com/news/28/2824.asp

          • Sean Dennehy

            That doesn’t negate what I said. Lawmakers have decided that it’s a correct tactic to decide speed limits this way. It is in now way decided that bicycle intersection behavior should be determined this way.

            If most cars only did rolling stops at stop signs would you suggest that because of this de facto behavior, all cars should be legally allowed to? No, because that would be preposterous.

          • gneiss

            Ah, so it’s correct the change the law for speeding motorists, but not correct for lawmakers to change the law for bicycles rolling stop signs, even though the danger for motorist speeding represents a much greater threat to public safety. – got it.

          • Sean Dennehy

            Did you not read the last sentence in my post? It’s not okay to change the law for car rolling stops just based on de facto behavior either.

          • gneiss

            Did you not read my post? I never said it’s okay to change the law for rolling car stops. But it is okay to change the law for rolling bicycle stops. If you believe that bicycle riding in any way represents the same threat to public safety as driving a car, then you’ll obviously biased and delusional and haven’t read up on the way that the Idaho stop is applied in urban Boise as well as in rural areas.

            And my point is, that we force communities who want to have lower speed limits on streets by state law to make them higher, even though it represents a threat to public safety to have them higher. Why do we have this double standard for public safety when it comes to the use of automobiles over bicycles, particularly given that bicycle/pedestrian crash rates are so small that they don’t even make it into statistics on what causes pedestrian injuries.

          • Sean Dennehy

            “I never said it’s okay to change the law for rolling car stops. But it is okay to change the law for rolling bicycle stops. ”

            How is this not a double standard. Why is it okay to change the law for bicycles but not cars?

            Also urban Boise is in no way as densely packed as SF. That’s the real delusion.

          • gneiss

            Because, bicycles are not cars – We already don’t apply the same laws on our streets for cars drivers and bicycle riders. There are numerous “double standards” already. There is no reason not to have this exemption, particularly since it represents no threat to public safety.

          • Sean Dennehy

            The threat isn’t to public safety, the threat is to driver finances. Who is the law going to hold accountable when a bike doesn’t yield and speeds through a stop sign hitting a car going through the car’s turn? Because already drivers get blamed for biker error.


            In LA a car hit the breaks and was rear ended by a bicyclist and the car was blamed. Apparently you cyclists can not only get away with rear ending people, you can then blame them for it. Pathetic.

          • gneiss

            Oh my god – that incident? A Doctor using his car as a weapon when he deliberately and with malice break checked two cyclists and caused them extensive injuries? That wasn’t the people on bicycles running into the back of a car, but rather a driver passing, then slamming on the brakes to cause grave bodily injury. Please, give me a break.

            As for driver finances, if it turns out that the cyclists was at fault in a collision, then they are responsible for financial restitution. The only reason why people who ride bicycles aren’t required to carry liability insurance, is that in practice, the amount of damage that they cause is so minimal compared to car drivers that it isn’t a requirement. I’ll just add, though, that I carry additional uninsured motorist coverage through my car insurance that covers me on a bicycle in case a driver hits me and has their liability coverage maxed out by my injuries.

          • John

            I wasn’t sure earlier but I’m now convinced that Sean Dennehy is a pro-bike advocate sent here to put up strawmen. Thanks for posting that link Sean. *wink wink*

          • Donovan Lacy

            So it is a question of population density? So if I could give you an example of a city that had more than 3 times the population density than San Francisco and had already instituted the “Idaho Stop” would you change your mind?

            6633 people/km²
            20700 people/km²

            Can you guess which of these is San Francisco and which is Paris?

          • johnqeniac

            well, of course we don’t wanna behave like a bunch of freaking frogs, do we?

          • Donovan Lacy

            Of course not, what with their wine and cheese and significantly higher quality of life. Who would want that?

          • johnqeniac

            true. they’re more civilized than us – that’s why they can get by without stop signs. whereas we’re totally uncivilized, so taking away stop signs could result in even more recklessness, more terrorizing of pedestrians, by high speed, screaming, bicycle anarchists. But anyway, why don’t we approach this scientifically rather than as a bunch of knuckleheads – pick a couple test intersections, put up cams, monitor the current behavior of motorists, cyclists and pedestrians over some period. Then change the stop signs to yield signs (by the way, pedestrians always have the right of way, right?) and monitor the behaviors for another period, and compare. Why not that?

  • jason

    I am an avid biker and I myself bike to work and respect the road. I believe the same way we have drivers ed, we should institute bicycle ed before allowing an individual to get on a bike and on the road.

  • Ray Fischer

    When maybe 5% of drivers come to a full and complete stop at a stop sign, it is clearly just petty harassment to be targeting cyclists. The number of drivers killed by cyclists is zero. The number of cyclists killed by drivers is a lot higher.

    • Another Mike

      What about when 95% of the drivers blow through stop signs as if they didn’t exist?

  • Gabe

    The Idaho law sounds reasonable request but will not fix the entire problem. The real problem seems to be the minority of aggressive cyclists who willfully choose to break the law. Changing the law to allow cyclists to yield rather than stop would help the vast majority of safe cyclists while enforcement of that law would help to deter the overly aggressive members of the cycling community. This seems like a situation where both sides could win.

  • Patricia

    When a bicyclist doesn’t stop because they’re grinding slowly up a steep hill, I totally understand. Making eye contact and being cooperative – and using common sense – are most important.

    Driver education and awareness go to the root of our problems – not bikes stopping at every stop sign.
    The daily death toll on our roads should be part of the daily news bulletins.

  • Diana Dair

    Pedestrians should be concerned about their safety. I bike all around the City Streets and I stop for pedestrians. Instead of ticketing non-stoppers, ticket unsafe behavior by bicyclists.

  • amatulic

    Morgan Fitzgibbons’ study concluding that 5% of bicyclists show bad behavior sounds bogus, and needs to be re-done by an independent researcher without an agenda. I’ve been keeping my own tally in the Peninsula where I live, which has mostly traffic lights rather than stop signs. Forget the stop signs — I’ve been observing about 30% of bicyclists blow right through a RED LIGHT. Add to that the number who ride on the wrong side of the road and block left-turn lanes rather than using crosswalks, and the number rises further.

    • Ehkzu

      What I’d like to know isn’t how many cyclists blow through stop signs or red lights–it’s how many cyclists obstruct the right of way of others–drivers, cyclicst, pedestrians? Isn’t that what really counts?

      • amatulic

        That’s a good way of looking at it. Most (by a small margin) bicyclists share the road just fine with cars and pedestrians, as I do myself when I’m on a bike. I see a significant proportion of bicyclists with a sense of entitlement who assert (or assume) their own right-of-way, and that is what causes problems for everyone else.

    • adamspacemann

      Drivers and cyclists have roughly the same rates of infraction, says a professor of civil engineering at the University of Colorado: http://www.pri.org/stories/2015-07-18/survey-finds-bicyclists-and-motorists-ignore-traffic-laws-similar-rates

      • Doug F

        But cars do far more damage & injury when they hit something or someone.

        • Liz

          Which is why they’re usually (not always, depending on the damage) charged with far more serious charges (vehicular manslaughter, etc)

          • Doug F

            “Usually” isn’t true. In SF, drivers are in fact rarely charged with vehicular manslaughter when they kill a cyclist or pedestrian, even when there are eyewitness accounts if not video saying it was the driver’s fault. The attitudes of the police & DA’s office seem to be “oh, just another accident.” The SFPD is definitely prejudiced against cyclists. The main exceptions are for noteworthy accidents that get a lot of media coverage, like the Uber driver who ran over the little girl, or the crazed woman in the big Mercedes who hit the parked minivan at about 70 (killing 3 teens, I think). There’ve been dozens of other fatalities in the meantime, & 18 this year–have you heard of any being charged? So these drivers keep driving & endangering others.

    • Doug F

      Where there’s a left-turn lane at a light, the correct place for a cyclist is the line between the left-turn lane & the leftmost straight-ahead lane. That’s out of the way of cars, whether stopped or moving. When the light is green, the cyclist should make a wider left turn that the cars, staying outside their path & properly ending up between the traffic & parked cars. In a dangerously wide intersection, the cyclist can follow off the right rear fender of a left-turning car, using it to block oncoming traffic that might otherwise claim not to see him (’cause they didn’t look). This should be obvious to any cyclist, but isn’t.

      • City Resident

        I don’t think it’s as simple as you describe it. Especially on streets with traffic speeds above 25 mph, it’s very daunting to be out in the middle waiting on the white line that separates left turning vehicles from vehicles proceeding straight. Oftentimes it’s much safer to be positioned more to the left – further from harm’s way. If an inattentive motorist drifts just a few feet off course – even for a second – that cyclist could be dead or severely maimed. This is why some bicyclists choose to take the lane (including left turn lanes) – to increase their chance of survival.

        • Doug F

          In that case, you can position yourself in front of the right headlight of the 1st stopped car in the left-turn lane, where traffic would have to rear-end or sideswipe the stopped car to reach you. Then watch for the opposing yellow, get ready early, & launch yourself forward & to the right, out of the way of the car behind you, soon as the light turns green.
          That makes it far less likely that that driver will be POed & try to run you into the parked cars on the far side.

          • City Resident

            I believe your suggestion was truly well intended but it has a chilling quality. Most of us just want to safely travel from point A to point B but then we’re confronted with the notion of being “run… into the parked cars.” Vulnerable road users don’t want to piss off motorists. We all have to share the road safely.

    • John

      You do realize that bikes are legally required to use left turn lanes and that it’s illegal for them to use crosswalks.

      • amatulic

        Generally, yes. I’m talking about streets that have bike lanes or multi-use paths, where bicyclists should function as pedestrians and activate the pedestrian signal and wait for the signal to change. All of that is in the CA vehicle code. Such an intersection is 2 blocks from my home. Most bicyclists do the right things, but some insist on using the turn lane, which forces them to cross over multiple traffic lanes after turning to get back into to the bicycle lane.

        • John

          That’s interesting. Is there a sign telling cyclists what to do?

          • amatulic

            No, but if I’m going to use the road, shouldn’t I be responsible for learning the rules, regardless of whether I bike or drive? it seems obvious that when I’m on a bike, and I want to turn left into a multi-lane busy street that has a bike lane on the right, that I wouldn’t want to be in the LEFT lane so that I could turn left and end up in the RIGHT lane? Cars are also turning right into the same right lane. It’s way safer for me to use the crosswalk to get to the bike lane I want to ride in.

          • What’s obvious here is that you don’t know the rules of the road and you don’t know how to ride safely.

          • John

            If I’m understanding the situation correctly, the biker has at least 3 choices: 2 legal and 1 illegal.

            Illegal: biking straight on crosswalk (inconveniences pedestrians)

            Legal: walk on crosswalk (inconveniences biker)

            Legal: biking left turn in left turn lane (inconveniences cars)

            I’m wondering if it’s clear which one the biker should feel obligated to choose. I suppose it depends on whether a particular mode of transport is thought to “own” any particular piece of infrastructure.

            Should the biker be altruistic and always act in a way so that she inconveniences others as little as possible? Or should the driver or pedestrian act in this way? When waiting in line at Costco, should we always let the person behind us go first? Who should be inconvenienced least? Is there a system available thereby we can figure out who should checkout first? These are the difficult questions of our time.

          • amatulic

            The real question is, what is safest? Of the three alternatives you suggest, I’d say walking the crosswalk is the safest legal alternative.

          • John

            That’s a great point. We are always trying to balance safety with convenience. I wonder however whether the answer depends on what and to whom we ask:

            1. What should the car do that will be safest for the biker?
            2. What should the car do that will be safest for the pedestrian?
            3. What should the car do that will be safest for the car?

            4. What should the biker do that will be safest for the biker?
            5. What should the biker do that will be safest for the pedestrian?
            6. What should the biker do that will be safest for the car?

            7. What should the pedestrian do that will be safest for the biker?
            8. What should the pedestrian do that will be safest for the pedestrian?
            9. What should the pedestrian do that will be safest for the car?

        • Erm, CVC 21208(a)(2) explicitly allows bicyclists to leave bike lanes when preparing to make a left turn. Your ignorance of the law is the problem here.

          California law does not require bicyclists to use side paths at all. Your ignorance of the law is the problem here.

          Bicyclists are not pedestrians. Your ignorance of the law is the problem here.

    • There’s no way that 30% of bicyclists blow through red lights. It’s in the single digits.

      Bicyclists are supposed to use left turn lanes. Look up CVC 21202(a)(2), 21208(a)(2), 21654(a) and 22100(b).

      One of the biggest problems for cyclists is that anti-cyclists don’t know the law.

      • amatulic

        30% is my own count. Even if that seems high, it’s certainly double digits, not 5% as reported. I admit my sample comes from around where I live, which may not be a representative area. That’s why I advocated that an independent researcher conduct a study, not someone with an agenda.

        Also, the CVC makes a distinction if there are bike lanes or shared-use lanes, in which case bicyclists are expected to act like pedestrians and use the walk signal.

        The biggest problem for cyclists is that they don’t know the laws. I’ve had at least one flip me a middle finger while riding at me down the wrong side of the road. One acquaintance told me he always rides on the left because he feels safer seeing the oncoming traffic! To which I say, get off your bike and use the sidewalk.

        • It doesn’t come from where you live. It comes from your confirmation bias.

          Shared use lanes (sharrows) have bicyclists behaving as the drivers of vehicles — not as pedestrians.

          There is NOTHING in the CVC that has bicyclists behaving like pedestrians. Your ignorance of the CVC and your assumptions about the CVC are the real problem here.

  • johnqeniac

    I instinctively detest Klein’s attitude, and I’ve been a cyclist for decades. He says he wants to solve the problem of reckless young anarchist (male) cylists breaking the laws and zooming through intersections by removing the stop signs and giving them free reign. Is he serious? Is he mad? Is he a fool? I really wanna know. – Greg Slater

  • Mark SF

    Yeah for that guy who brings up the using the turn signal! It is a pet peeve of mine. If cars used their turn signals cyclist could adjust their path to account for what is ahead of them.

    The law says cyclist should signal a turn when it is safe to do so. Cyclist have hand brakes which can make it impossible to safely signal at times especially in traffic that is moving. You have to keep your hands on the brake to react to what is around you.

    • Another Mike

      Again, why do cyclists insist on operating unsafe vehicles on city streets?

      • Mark SF

        Bicycles are not unsafe vehicles on city streets. Hand turn signals are legal for both cars and bicycles. If you want to talk purely safety removing all cars from San Francisco would make San Francisco a very safe place. Car out pace very one in accidents and pedestrians killed or injured. That would make cars unsafe vehicles for city streets.

        Maybe we should have all car drivers do hand turn signals whenever they turn or change lanes. They would learn to signal and it would slow them down because we know cars do not speed.

        By the way Golden Gate Park is not a speed way.

        • Another Mike

          Mount turn signals to your bike.
          Problem solved.

          • I can signal and brake at the same time. It’s not actually all that difficult.

          • Mark SF

            Hand signals still work. I never take a right in front of a car so no problems. You are making a problem where none exists.

            Of course, cars take a right in front of cyclist all the time without signaling. That is a problem.

            I do agree about people just running stops signs. I see both cars and bicycles. It is a great incentive to stop.

  • Doug F

    I’ve been a driver for 50yr & never hit a cyclist, & a cyclist in city traffic for 44 & never been hit by a car. I’m in favor of the Idaho law…but cyclists in SF specifically have a severe problem with a rude entitled attitude. I blame this on 2 groups: bike messengers (mostly out of greed) & Critical Mass. The last driver I want to meet on the road while cycling is one who’s POed from being badly delayed, flipped off & yelled at during a Critical Mass ride, or just his regular commute, the previous evening.
    The DMV doesn’t enforce drivers learning to check their right mirror & over their shoulder for a cyclist before turning right. And the police have long since given up on enforcing turn signals–the law says 100ft before starting to turn. They do in Germany, & the car vs cyclist accident rate is much lower.
    For cyclists: Be polite to drivers, yield the right-of-way when it clearly isn’t yours, clearly signal your moves (head gestures will do, when you need both hands on the bars or brakes), & drivers will act a lot more safely around you.

    • Whamadoodle

      Thank you. Yes, the attitude of the panelist, and some posters, seems to be that bicyclists are some sort of special breed, who are uniquely without any fault, and this translates into the Critical Mass snotty diva exhibitions. People who think “MY group is basically fine–it’s only these OTHER sorts of people who deserve all fingers pointed at them” will always behave aggressively at others.

      On the other hand, I have had the experience of meeting the Courteous Mass people, and they are awesome. I was walking into an intersection, and waited for some bicyclists, because they’d already started their turn into the crossing. One after the other, two or three bicyclists said “excuse me, we’re sorry,” even though (to my mind) I was the one who should wait, since they’d already started into the intersection before I got there. I always remember them when people think that ALL cyclists are entitled, heedlessly law-breaking stop-light runners, and rude and aggressive.

  • liljenstolpe

    I’m a biker and a driver here in San Francisco. I have two comments based on the discussion here. 1) The Bucchere/Hui accident a few years ago puts paid to the comment that “bikes can’t kill pedestrians” 200+ lbs with a velocity of 10+ mph is more than sufficient to injure or kill.
    2) The comment about the number of bikers and pedestrians killed in san francisco is sobering (and well known). It’s unfortunate. What is never said is what percentage of those killed or injured behaved in such a way that they precipitated the accident.
    Stepping out into traffic without looking, screaming “don’t turn” at a car that has the right-of-way to turn right, and passing that car on the right are both great examples. If the driver of the limo hadn’t heard the bike (windows rolled up, radio on), he would have hit (and possibly killed) that bicyclist. Is it the drivers fault because the biker decided to break the rules?

    • John

      If the biker was able to pass on the right of the car, the car was likely making an illegal right turn. For turns, a bike lane is the same as a regular traffic lane. A car is required to merge completely into the lane before making the turn.

      Even absent a bike lane, cars are required to perform a maneuver known as “turning at the curb.” If a biker going straight is able to pass the car, the car was making an illegal turn.

      Most drivers in SF so not know this is the law, and experienced cyclists interested in self-preservation don’t expect cars to do this.

      • Whamadoodle

        What? 1) We have no information at ALL on how far the limo in question was from the curb. None at all. So there is zero basis for claiming that it was “likely” driving illegally.

        2) If the limo was a long limo, it is IMPOSSIBLE for it to hug the curb, just as with trucks, 18-wheelers, or others who in fact MUST avoid hugging the curb before turning.

        The poster is correct: bicycles, like cars, should drive defensively and not aggressively, which means taking care to look out for other traffic, not overtaking them on the right at a time when they’re about to turn right. There are MANY bicyclists AND drivers who fail in taking sufficient care.

        • John

          I think we’re having a disconnect about the use of conditional and probabilistic statements. But I don’t want to argue about an anecdote that neither of us has first-hand knowledge of.

          1 of the leading causes of biker fatalities is the illegal right turn I described. Next time you drive to work, observe the drivers making right turns. Are they signaling? Are they starting and ending as close to the curb as possible? (Most drivers don’t know that, unlike left turns, right turns must be completed in the far right lane.) An inexperienced driver will probably make this illegal turn thousands of times in their lifetime. An inexperienced biker who is following the law and who actually has the right of way in this case makes the mistake of not biking “defensively” once (stops, smiles, tips cap, and yes sirs driver) and she’s dead.

          • Whamadoodle

            I see what you are saying now. I didn’t understand that you meant that one should finish a right turn in the right lane (though in the case you’re describing, it’s not an issue if the driver were to finish in a lane FURTHER from the curb; if I understand you correctly, the problem you’re describing occurs when a driver STARTS the turn far from the curb, and then suddenly moves closer to the curb to FINISH the turn, thus pinning the unsuspecting bicyclist). The CVC sections I found regarding right-hand turns do say that you should make your right turn as close to the curb as possible:


            When driving, I attempt to hug the curb as soon as the bike lane changes to a dotted line, and to signal timely. I wouldn’t be at all surprised to find that many drivers fail to do so, given the massive number of drivers here who are oblivious to right-of-way laws, and who seem to think that “well if I was going faster on the way to the stop sign, then I get to go through it first.”

            Much of these problems could be solved by drivers AND pedestrians AND bicyclists actually being conscious of other people, instead of searching for ways to ignore or step on one another, as people seem more usually to do.

  • Another Mike

    According to this report by the Federal Highway Administration, cyclists are at least partly at fault in 72% of all car-bicycle collisions.


    • Nice reading comprehension. It doesn’t say that.

      It says that bicyclists were found at fault in about half the crashes.

      It also says that motorists found to be solely at fault in 28% of crashes. You’ve distorted that to at least partial fault in 72% of crashes, but that’s not what that statement means. In fact if you read studies, there are always a fair amount that are indeterminant of fault.

      Furthermore, there’s a fair amount of variance from study to study and most studies have motorists at fault slightly more often than bicyclists. Part of this variance is the randomness of crashes. Part of it is variances on reporting. For example, in many jurisdictions, dooring collisions don’t get a normal accident report and so they end up not being in the statistics. Dooring collisions are almost always the fault of the motorist, because it’s illegal to open a door into moving traffic. Another problem is bias. A lot of police assume the bicyclist to be at fault regardless. I’ve read too many stories of bicyclists being accused of being at fault only to have the story change when video proves that they were not. I even read one that proved that the driver lied by showing his GPS tracking data from his bike computer which showed that he was not going the direction that the driver accused him of going.

      • Another Mike

        Collisions between non-moving vehicles and moving vehicles naturally fall into a different category.

  • AJ Hofer

    You keep talking about cars and cyclist. The big problem is how unsafe it is for pedestrians. The Idaho law is for Idaho, a much less dense/populated area than SF. Just because it might work in Idaho, does not mean it would work in SF.

    The cyclist complain that if they have to come to a complete stop, it takes longer to proceed when it’s their turn, causing traffic. That’s a total crock! What about the pedestrian who also stops at the corner, then proceeds to cross the street when it’s his turn? It takes the pedestrian even longer to cross than the cyclist, yet, I don’t see any havoc caused by it.

    Morgan, you are not fooling anyone. You kept belittling pedestrians and drivers while putting cyclists on a pedestal. Especially when stating how you heard people say the cyclist went through the red light killing a pedestrian…but it’s not certain the cyclist really did that. What a total crock! And you wonder why people don’t like cyclist.

    • John

      Note: I used to be a daily biker but I don’t anymore because it would be death wish riding from the Bayview.

      1. Pedestrians don’t need to stop at corners.
      2. Even if they did, their acceleration is practically instantaneous and does not require much additional energy.
      3. A biker would need to exert 40% more energy and time if he had to put his foot down at empty intersections. That’s inefficient and it’s not clear it improves safety. Laws need to be driven by data and not gut-feelings.
      4. And that’s what the debate is about. Bike behavior at EMPTY intersections. All other complained-about behavior would still be illegal.

      • Mary Malone

        Here’s a clue: if you don’t want to follow the rules/regulations for riding any conveyance on streets, then DON’T RIDE ON THE STREETS.

        Really, no one is so special that they can choose which rules/regulations they will obey and which they won’t.

        • John

          It’s everyone’s civic duty to point out and try to change unjust or inefficient laws.

          And people choose which laws they will obey all the time. For example: Car going over the speed limit by 2mph is fine. Bike going 2mph through an empty intersection is an outrage. Etc.

  • richensf

    As a motorist, cyclist, and pedestrian living in the city, I see bad behavior coming from each category in about equal proportion. Drivers driving distracted, speeding, blocking intersections, double parking, making unsafe lane changes, illegal turns; Cyclists cutting off pedestrians, riding on sidewalks, and running lights; Pedestrians stepping into traffic without observing signals and cross traffic, littering, selling or using illicit substances, or breaking other laws.

    The point is that cyclists aren’t particularly special when it comes to a small minority being reckless, dangerous, or rude–people just remember them better when they cannot personally relate to their experience (ie: not being a cyclist themselves).

    The main issue that I feel us safe and respectful cyclists see here is that this enforcement action by Captain Sanford does not recognize the nuance of the issue or exercise discretion over each situation. It is a blanket action targeting all cyclists in a discriminatory fashion to send a message via headlines.

    Discretion meanwhile is practiced by officers on the street when people j-walk or use illicit drugs in the open and when cars block intersections, make unsafe lane changes, or when they double park entire blocks for hours on the weekends.

    Discretion means selectively ticketing cyclists who are caught being reckless and unsafe, not launching a campaign to ticket all cyclists rigidly to the letter of the law. No other group of citizens is targeted in this way, especially when their actions while technically not legal do not harm others or cause unsafe situations, and that is what bothers cyclists.

  • Helena

    It seems like the biggest problems won’t be solved by the proposed change. The problems are inconsiderate drivers and cyclists. We all know that cyclists take a bigger risk than automobiles when they are out on the road, and especially in dense cites like SF, cars should be mindful to use signals and pay attention. By the same token, cyclists who simply blast through intersections or who go from the road to the sidewalk in an effort to avoid slowing down at all put themselves and drivers in a dangerous position. Drivers do not want to hit or hurt anyone. Sure, there are a few nuts out there, but for the most part nobody wants to be involved in an accident.

    It seems like many cyclists don’t treat stops as yields so much as they treat them as yellow lights, speeding up to make it before other traffic enters the intersection. This is a dangerous practice. Cyclists are not only not stopping, but they are not even slowing down to a safe speed in case a stop is necessary. And again, we all know that cars pose a greater risk than cyclists. That does not mean that cyclists can simply ignore traffic laws, because they put others at risk as well. Even if the law was changed, this behavior would be illegal. Though the cyclist advocate claims that this is only 5% of cyclists, anyone who lives in SF knows that’s just not the case. A cyclist may not behave that way regularly, but many do it at least once in a while. It’s a cumulative effect felt around the city.

    Some of the arguments that were made by the cyclist advocate were incredibly off-putting, and indicative of a general attitude that doesn’t help the cyclist-driver tension. Sure, a cyclist may not cause much damage if they hit a vehicle. However, a car that swerves to avoid a cyclist may hit another car, a pedestrian, or even another cyclist. Furthermore, unlike cars that at least have license plates and are registered to particular owners, a cyclist is fairly unidentifiable. If they cause any damage, they can leave the scene without any risk of accountability. Again, cars are responsible for a greater number of accidents, injuries, and damage. However, that does not mean that we should ignore the problems posed by cyclists.

    • Whamadoodle

      Thank you. Also, given that the cyclist advocate’s point was basically “well, we conducted our own study to check our obedience of stop signs, and surprise, we found that cyclists are basically fine” (although this is not a universal sentiment, as many cyclists acknowledge that there are bad actors among all modes of transportation), the message he’s also trying to convey is that very few bicyclists are at fault in any collision–which, by the way, he doesn’t prove.

    • Paul

      Well stated. Unfortunately, this “Yield” proposal, as reasonable as is may appear, makes a mess of standard right-of-way rules at 4-way stops.
      There is an expectation that all vehicles will stop, and those that stop first, get to go first. If any vehicle, bike or car, rolls through a stop sign even at slow speed, then it confuses everyone waiting for their turn to proceed.

      • Actually that is not exactly how the law is written. Rather the vehicle on the right has the right of way. The law does not stipulate who got there first, but rather who would be entering the intersection. This is to address the situation where two different vehicles may actually have different stopping/starting requirements (say, a sports car vs. a tractor) While we tend to think of traffic laws regarding standard passenger vehicles, the laws were actually written to address the needs of a much more varied collection of road users. http://www.leginfo.ca.gov/cgi-bin/displaycode?section=veh&group=21001-22000&file=21800-21809

  • Another Mike

    I will boil it down to this: if I am going (straight, not turning) through a four-way stop, I do not expect any vehicle going 10-15 miles an hour from my left, to suddenly appear in the intersection. Same if I am proceeding ahead on a green light.

  • jwinstonsf

    A video of high a density netherlands intersection with no stop signs, yet everyone is safe and happy. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EvUSSUkf2to

    • Paul

      That’s an interesting video. But if you watch it for more that a few minutes, virtually ALL the automobiles are stopping or yielding to bicycles, while very few bicycles stop or yield for cars. So the traffic laws in that Netherland city/country intersection are clearly much different, in stark contrast to Calif traffic law.

      • jwinstonsf

        That, Paul, is because in the Netherlands whenever a car hits a bike for any reason, it’s the cars fault. That’s the law there.

      • jwinstonsf

        That’s because, Paul, when a driver hits a bicyclist in the Netherlands it is ALWAYS the driver’s fault according to the law there.

        More on The NL: https://aseasyasridingabike.wordpress.com/2015/07/30/true-safety-lies-with-design/

        • Whamadoodle

          What a godawful rule, then. MANY accidents between bicycles and cars are the bicyclist’s fault. It’s unclear the exact percentages, but it’s a large percentage in every study I’ve seen mention of.

          • In most studies that analyze fault, motorists are more likely to be found at fault.

          • Whamadoodle

            I’ve found that too–but that’s MOST.

            MOST. Not ALL. Many of those studies show that 40 or more percent of the time, the fault was with the bicyclist. That does mean “most” of the time it’s cars, yes. But that means a LOT of the time it’s the cyclist. That is why it’s an absolutely outrageous principle that cyclists should NEVER be considered at fault.

            I’ve never seen any study of it that showed cyclists as being all pristine and without fault, without some significant percentage of them being at fault. (This would be ridiculous, of course, because it would imply that “oh, huge numbers of pedestrians are horrible at walking, and huge numbers of drivers are horrible at driving, but cyclists? Sun shines from one’s buttocks, the minute one becomes a bicyclist! Courtesy, complete adeptness, and scrupulously correct behavior characterizes the cyclist, but not other types of people. Our s— just doesn’t stink, didn’t you know!” Ridiculous. You’re just as human as anyone, which means a significant number of you are flawed, like the rest of us. Please, already.)

          • Nobody has ever asserted that bicyclists are never at fault. You just committed a straw man fallacy. It’s a common tactic of ignorant self entitled bigots.

            If it was exactly 50-50, which it usually isn’t, then there would be no point to demonizing bicyclists like idiots like you incessantly do.

          • Whamadoodle

            Um–and you consider childish name-calling a sound tactic, do you?

            You’re incorrect: yes someone IS saying “bicyclists are never at fault.” The frigging comment I was replying to said that! You… you are aware of what the comment I was replying to stated, don’t you? It said that in the Netherlands, bicyclists are NEVER considered at fault. I said that that’s a godawful idea, because bicyclists are often at fault. So what on earth are you babbling about? Your statement is false. I quote (from the comment I replied to above:

            “That’s because, Paul, when a driver hits a bicyclist in the Netherlands it is ALWAYS the driver’s fault according to the law there.”

          • That comment is limited to the Netherlands. The Netherlands is not the U.S., you idiot.

            We don’t have strict liability laws here, you idiot.

          • Whamadoodle

            Oh shut up, billdav. I KNOW the Netherlands is not in the US; I wasn’t TALKING about the US; I never made a CLAIM about the US. The poster I replied to made a claim about the Netherlands, and I replied about the Netherlands; OK? Can you keep that straight in your head? If not, could you kindly learn to read before going into juvenile name-calling and making your own side look like exactly the petulant children you’re claiming not to be? If you were hoping to cast yourself as a mature, sober bicyclist who is never impatient enough to break a law, then sorry, but it looks like you’re the opposite.

            The poster SEEMED to be citing the Netherlands’ law approvingly, so if s/he was, then yes someone in the US IS calling for that; if s/he wasn’t, then I wonder why on earth the poster posted that about the Netherlands; but in either case, I am merely pointing out in response to that comment that that law of the Netherlands is a bad one. They posted about the Netherlands; so I answered about the Netherlands. Don’t blame me just because you can’t keep that straight, in your haste to name-call like an eight-year-old.

            WTF is your problem?

          • My problem is that idiots like you can’t handle sharing the road with bicyclists. You whine. You cry. You harass. You threaten. It’s all because moving over to pass is more than you childish self entitled arrogant territorial crybabies can handle.

          • Whamadoodle

            I’m sorry, billdav, but you just made every BIT of what you just said up. You lie.

            “Whine, cry, entitled” sounds like a perfect description of you. Not ONE thing I said indicates that I’ve EVER failed to move over to pass. And by the way I move over to pass for bicyclists every DAY, and if I can’t, I wait. As mentioned, you lie. Since you have nothing to offer but name-calling and making up things out of your own fantasy, your word is worthless. Since you make your word worthless, you are not worth talking to. Good day.

          • Whamadoodle

            Also, you lie: I have repeatedly said, over and over, that people using ALL modes of transport behave dangerously, and that they should stop. Your claim that I am “demonizing bicyclists” is nonsense–why do you not claim I’m “demonizing pedestrians” and “demonizing motorists” too, then?

            You lie.

          • Nope. You’re just another childish self entitled bigot who can’t handle sharing the road with bicyclists.

  • sfparkripoff

    This was a demonstration of ENTITLEMENT disguised as a protest. The entire event was rigged to make a false point. 100 cyclists lined up at the same time in a single file line (queued up for over a block) to make a full stop at Steiner and Waller Streets.

    These ENTITLED cyclists who are demanding safer streets and shared roadway space want it both ways. They claim to be the equal of motorists, entitled to their equal share of the road. Yet they refuse to obey the traffic laws. The Police Department has a civic responsibility to uphold the laws that are currently on the books. Cyclists should be issued tickets for moving violations, including disobeying traffic signals and failing to yield to pedestrians.

    Cyclists have to make up their minds. Are they co-owners of the road, obliged to follow its rules? Or are they free spirits, obeying no rules and claiming no privileges? If cyclists want their share of the road, they can’t go on pretending that they are above its laws.

    • Ehkzu

      You want cyclists treated exactly the same as drivers, with the police zealously enforcing the laws accordingly? Fine. By California law, a cyclist is entitled to ALL of the lane he’s riding in. Would you endorse police crackdowns on cyclists including crackdowns on motorists who pass a cyclist in that lane?

  • Liz

    If cars have to yield and be cautious with cyclists, it’s only fair that cyclists yield to pedestrians, and be mindful of them.

    • darelldd

      Right! And of course we have the universal problem: Not all cars yield and are cautious with cyclists, and not all cyclists yield and are cautious with pedestrians. These are all people we’re talking about. And some people are selfish and careless. These people driver cars, ride bikes and walk. Welcome to the human race.

      We don’t solve all of our traffic and safety problems by coming down hard on cycilsts. We solve it by making appropriate infrastructure and laws for the various modes of transportation. We don’t have that. Not by a long shot. We treat bicycles like they’re slow, little two-wheeled cars, and that’s not working too well.

      Make no mistake – drivers kill other road users by the tens of thousands every year. Cyclists kill literally a few. If we really want cyclists to act just like drivers, we’re going to have a lot more fatal collisions. So let’s not get too excited about making all of this “fair.”

      • Mary Malone

        If you follow the rules and regulations required of those use the streets, then you are doing the right thing. None of us can control the actions of others…but just because someone else does something illegally is zero excuse for any of us to act illegally, I don’t care if you are in a car, riding a bike, or driving a goat-cart.

        • darelldd

          And nowhere is this “justified rule-breaking” being implied. I have no idea how you’re reading that.

  • James Paul Spellicy

    They should obey the traffic laws as they stand. So many fly through intersections with nary a look. Many are rude and believe because they ride bikes they are above the rest of us. Not so! Stop when the sign says to.

  • The tricky part of this discussion is a complete lack of understanding of perspective of some that are opposed to this idea. The truth is someone that does not routinely ride a bicycle in traffic has a very different perspective on safety compared with someone that does. This is evident from the comments often made in these discussions that follow the general “Well if cyclists just blow through intersections and get hit by a car who’s going to be held responsible?”

    While it might come as a shock (but shouldn’t) most cyclists are extremely aware of their safety. I couldn’t give two-shakes about who had legal right away if I end up lying in a hospital bed. And the undeniable truth is that if I get in a collision with a car while on a bike the odds are stacked against me.

    It seems the folks most vehemently opposed to these sorts of changes do not have the perspective necessary to understand that cyclists are often doing these things because it actually 1) increases their personal safety, and 2) makes it so all of us get to where we are trying to go faster.

    Too many of the opponents feel for some reason that this proposed change is somehow taking something away from them as motorists. If that is the case then it sounds more like your argument is “I can’t so why should they be able to.” That simply isn’t a very compelling argument to use for directing public policy.

  • The tricky part of this discussion is a complete lack of understanding of perspective of some that are opposed to this idea. The truth is someone that does not routinely ride a bicycle in traffic has a very different perspective on safety compared with someone that does. This is evident from the comments often made in these discussions that follow the general “Well if cyclists just blow through intersections and get hit by a car who’s going to be held responsible?”

    While it might come as a shock (but shouldn’t) most cyclists are extremely aware of their safety. I couldn’t give two-shakes about who had legal right away if I end up lying in a hospital bed. And the undeniable truth is that if I get in a collision with a car while on a bike the odds are stacked against me.

    It seems the folks most vehemently opposed to these sorts of changes do not have the perspective necessary to understand that cyclists are often doing these things because it actually 1) increases their personal safety, and 2) makes it so all of us get to where we are trying to go faster.

    Too many of the opponents feel for some reason that this proposed change is somehow taking something away from them as motorists. If that is the case then it sounds more like your argument is “I can’t so why should they be able to.” That simply isn’t a very compelling argument to use for directing public policy.

    • Another Mike

      How does it increase a cyclist’s personal safety to ride into an intersection where a car has the right of way?
      My interpretation is that he is relying on my quick wits and superbly maintained braking system to preserve his life.

      • Thank you for that question – because it goes directly to the heart of the misunderstanding surrounding this issue.

        No one is asking for cyclists to ride into an intersection **where a car has the right of way**. The Idaho law does NOT change right of way. It simply eliminates the need for a cyclists to come to a complete stop at a stop sign if AND ONLY IF there is no other vehicle or pedestrian that already has that right of way. It treats the stop sign as a yield sign – with all the normal stipulations of a yield sign.

        Yield signs seem to becoming increasingly rare – at least in California – so I expect that some have totally forgotten that there are, in fact, laws on the books already that address the idea that an intersection can be entered safely without a full stop under some circumstances.

        • Actually, I’m seeing more roundabouts these days. Those always have yield signs.

      • That’s not what the Idaho stop law is. Yield means that you don’t enter the intersection when someone else has right of way.

      • Lacey

        Cars NEVER have the right of way when it comes to pedestrians and cyclists. That’s why it’s the car’s fault if the car hits someone EVEN IF that person walked into te road outside of an intersection or moved in the the middle of the lane to turn left. That’s why if u hit someone your insurance rate goes up–it is YOUR responsibility to stop, and why you can’t blindly run people over saying “it’s MY right of way!”

        • Another Mike

          The laws of the State of California see things otherwise. Per the California Department of Motor Vehicles:

          “Bicycle riders on public roads have the same rights and
          responsibilities as motorists, and are subject to the same rules and regulations. Refer to the California Driver Handbook to become familiar with these rules.”

          Cyclists have a duty to look out for their own safety. Motorists are supposed to take reasonable care to prevent injury to others — that is a civil matter, not a criminal one.

          • Lacey

            I mean I don’t see how that says otherwise? If u hit someone it’s your fault. Are u saying if a cyclist gets hit for whatever reason it’s because they weren’t looking out for their own safety?and not the fault of the driver no matter what the situation really is? Theoretically a car could be determined to run over a cyclist and aim for them, and it’s the cyclists responsibility to get away from them?

            Are u missing the part where it says cyclists have “rights” as well?

          • Another Mike

            Per the Federal Highway Administration, bicyclists are at fault (entirely or partially) in 72% of car-bike collisions (link in my previous post).

          • Nice reading comprehension. It doesn’t say that.

            It says that bicyclists were found at fault in about half the crashes.

            It also says that motorists found to be solely at fault in 28% of crashes. You’ve distorted that to at least partial fault in 72% of crashes, but that’s not what that statement means. In fact if you read studies, there are always a fair amount that are indeterminant of fault.

          • Another Mike

            So, you are saying that the real number of collisions where the cyclist was at fault, in whole or in part, is somewhere between 50% and 72%, because fault cannot be precisely determined in some unknown number of collisions.

          • I’m saying that you’re ignoring the reality of the numbers and how safety studies work.

            In fact in most studies, motorists are found at fault slightly more often than bicyclists. There are usually some shared fault and some indeterminant.

            In your rush to demonize bicyclists, you distort things to mean what you want them to mean. That study is also over 20 years old.

          • Here’s one that’s more recent and it’s about San Francisco:


            “The data provided by the police department shows that over the past two years, drivers were likely at fault about 60 percent of the time and cyclists 40 percent of the time in accidents in which a car and bike were involved (763 cases total). The same percentage holds true for accidents involving bikes and trucks.”

        • Nope.

          Right of way rules for bicycles and cars are the same. Right of way is determined by traffic controls, road position and timing.

          Pedestrians always have right of way at all marked and unmarked crosswalks. An unmarked crosswalk exists at every intersection where there is not a painted crosswalk and there isn’t a “no pedestrian crossing” sign.

          • Lacey

            Ahh, I see. So there’s never been a car cited for hitting someone outside of those areas. Right. Got it.

          • That’s not what I’m saying at all.

            You said cars never have right of way over cyclists. The fact is that they have the same right of way as cyclists so sometimes one has right of way and sometimes the other does, depending upon the traffic controls, road position and timing.

          • Lacey

            In terms of when accidents happen (which is clearly the context of my original comment), unless the cyclist/pedestrian is suicidal, generally the fault lies with the car. It is the responsibility of the car to look out for cyclists and pedestrians, and it is the responsibility of the cyclist to look out for pedestrians, and therefore when an accident occurs it is the fault of whomever hit who. U are literally arguing that cars hold no responsibility for hitting others as long as they’re following the basic rules. Any insurance company will agree with me, that’s why if u are simply INVOLVED in an accident your rate will go up. It’s called defensive driving and stems from the fact that f you choose to use the Roads u have a responsibility

          • In most studies of fault in bike-car collisions, fault tends to fall pretty close to 50-50 between bicyclists and motorists, which would be the expected ratio given a similar level of incompetence across both groups. Most of those studies have motorists at fault slightly more often but it tends to be a thin margin.

            I’m not making the argument that you’re accusing me of. Read my other posts in this thread. I’m on the pro-bike side. However, I also dislike the hyperbole and absolutes that you are engaging in. You’re not doing us any favors.

          • Lacey

            I’m not saying I’m a perfect person, but I can say in all of the near-accidents I’ve been involved in, they were not my fault. I obey traffic laws. So you can understand my arguments of wanting a protected bike lane accommodated an roads. And my tendency to take what motorists say with a grain of salt. A protected bike lane would dispel the animosity involved in cars having to share the same lane as cyclists.

  • geoff st.john

    Let’s get rid of all the traffic laws. Ever been to Vietnam? Hardly any traffic laws. Way fewer jerks.

    • Robert Thomas

      Get rid of the jerks first.

      • geoff st.john

        I guess my point is that in Vietnam everybody has to be really mindful and considerate of the situations and conditions. As a result the traffic moves slower. You can’t be in a hurry and it’s pretty tough to cross the street. But the traffic moves so slow that you rarely see a really dangerous situation. It’s anarchy, but it seems to work. It’s more difficult to be a jerk.

  • Paul

    As a pedestrian I obey the WALK signals, and wait for all cars to stop before proceeding. Yes there have been some close calls. But after having been broadsided by a bicyclist who blew through a Red light and plowed me into the pavement (and cussed at me for “getting in his way”) well, my respect for certain cyclists took a ‘big hit’.
    So what does this have to do with the “Yield” proposal? It’s not too different:
    1) A few cyclists will inevitably interpret “Yield” as “Go”, and will rarely slow or stop, and
    2) With mixed rights-of way at intersections there are problems: while cars will always have to stop, cyclist will not. This simply means some cyclists, knowing that the car has to stop, will rarely stop for a car, even if the car arrived first to the intersection, violating Calif rules: http://www.leginfo.ca.gov/cgi-bin/displaycode?section=veh&group=21001-22000&file=21800-21809

  • crissyfield

    Problem is four way stops. Cars stop when they are supposed to then go…….then comes a bike sailing through the intersection. They haven’t stopped to yield to anyone. This is dangerous. Bikers care about bikers. Getting from A to B. We all want to do that. But that is why there are ” rules of the road” . There are more bikers out there, this creates a chaotic and dangerous environment for everyone. They must follow the rules. I have no problem finding alternative solutions to traffic problems. Computer times there should be streets that are bikes only and cars only. Twin peaks tunnel is being remodeled….put in a bike lane….All the way down Market…….underground!

    • Cars stop when they are supposed to then go? In what universe?

  • ER

    No No No, obey the rules of the road for vehicles or agree to forfeit any coverage by insurance or the right to sue if another vehicle hits you because you coast through a stop sign.

    Besides, we already have a “California curtsey” where cars just pause at stop signs. It’s not legal but it happens. Should this be legal?

    If the law is changed to allow bicyclists to do this, then it also should be changed to allow other kinds of vehicles to do this.

  • They take there life in there own hands by not stopping. Sure it sucks to lose momentum, car drivers feel the same way. Too bad, change the law first. I know its an unpopular viewpoint but bicycle riders put drivers and pedestrians at risk. I’ll was hit walking in a cross walk by some cyclist I wish a cop had seen it, arrogant person.

    • esp4u

      What is wrong with you , Wayne ? Your dad didn’t buy you a two wheeler when you were seven on your birthday ?. Still waiting for that bike ? Get a life.

  • Rommel Alfonso

    The population of sf per km^2 is 7x that of boise idaho add non local traffic sf is quite the busy place. Implementation of a system that works in idaho or even perhaps colorado may not necessarily work for a metropolitan sf traffic system.

    • Donovan Lacy

      It is worth noting that Paris, a city roughly 3 times more dense than San Francisco has also implemented a law similar to the Idaho Stop. Equally worth noting is the fact that France as a whole has 1/2 the automobile fatalities per capita.

      • Another Mike

        Nobody rides a velo in Paris except during the Tour de France.

        • Donovan Lacy

          What do you base this statement on? Paris has one of the largest bike sharing programs in the world, velib and they make more than 200,000 trips via personal bikes daily. It sure seems like they bike more than just during the Tour de France, but you probably knew that, and just wanted to give me a forum to let everyone else know.

        • Wow. That’s a whopper.

          They’ve got 1500 bike share stations in Paris. Lots of people ride in Paris.

          • Another Mike

            Before 2007, when the city started installing 1500 bike share stations, nobody rode a velo in Paris except during the Tour de France.

          • Also not true. The french love bicycles.

          • Another Mike

            The French love hunting and windsurfing, too. Neither of which they do extensively in Paris.

          • And you base this on what, exactly?

            The population density is high in Paris which means that cars tend to cause a lot of bad traffic jams which leads to a lot of people using other modes including walking, public transit and bicycling.

          • Donovan Lacy

            Why is this relevant?

            You made the point that we could not institute an Idaho Stop law in SF because SF was much more densely populated than SF.

            We then provided an example of a city, Paris, with the 3 times the population density of SF that instituted a similar law, to which you responded that no one in Paris rides a bike other than during the Tour de France.

            To which we responded with statistics showing this was simply not the case, and you responded by going back in time to 2007. I do not see how referencing 2007 is relevant to what we are currently discussing.

            Could you please elaborate?

            Could you also help me understand your new line of argument regarding terrain differences and how this would make implementing the Idaho / Paris Stop more difficult?

          • Beth Grant DeRoos

            Paris works for bicycle riders because of the flat terrain unlike San Francisco which is predominately hills. Much easier to do a yield style on flatland than hills.

            And it was in 2007 that Paris began the huge bicycle rental program like Copenhagen, Denmark has. The vélo libre or bicycle program has proven very popular and every bicycle we have used has been clean and in excellent shape.

            The brochure they gave us notes there are 20,000 bicycles and 1,450 stations where you can pick up or drop off a bicycle.

            Having that many bicycle users also has made the auto drivers more bicycle friendly, which is amazing if you have been in or seen how fast auto drivers drive in Paris, Rome etc.

          • Donovan Lacy

            To summarize; Paris has 3 times the population density as SF, a very successful bike share program, which SF is attempting to emulate, and has instituted an Idaho / Paris Stop as well as recently instituted yield on red for certain circumstances (right on red and T-intersections). I guess the logical conclusion is that based on this we all agree that we should institute the Idaho / Paris Stop in San Francisco.

          • Beth Grant DeRoos

            Paris and Boise Idaho= FLAT land NOT hills which make red to yield work better.

          • Donovan Lacy

            What is the logic behind this statement? Based on this we should be fine along the Embarcadero, Marina, Fisherman’s Wharf, Mission Bay, Bayview and Dogpatch?

          • Donovan Lacy

            I am also pretty sure if you want to head to Sacre Coeur in Paris that there are not different rules of the road.

      • Whamadoodle

        European drivers AND bicyclists, as anyone who’s ever driven there knows, are WAY more conscious than Californian drivers and bicyclists, and they obey the traffic rules more conscientiously.

        In all the dozens of times I’ve driven in Europe, I’ve NEVER seen a driver break the fast-lane rules (that those to the left should always drive faster than those on the right) and wander into the fast lane going “duhhh?” without looking, and cutting someone off, blocking traffic by going slower than the cars in the right lanes, like drivers in California do every single day (often while texting). Not even once.

        On the other hand, in the times I’ve bicycled in Europe, including in Paris, I’ve never once seen a bicyclist running a clear stop light, as they do in downtown San Francisco every single day.

        I wish both groups of people were as scrupulous about obeying traffic rules as they are in Europe.

        • Donovan Lacy

          I too have spent a fair amount of time in Europe and have family that live in the Marais. I will agree wholeheartedly that drivers on European highways are much more likely to follow the fast-lane-rules than drivers in the United States. I have not seen this behaviour translate to more “courteous” drivers in major European cities.

          If you do not want to see Paris Cyclist running red lights, you should probably not plan to return to Paris anytime soon, as they have just changed the law to allow cyclist to run red lights in certain instances.

          All that being said, I am in favor of ticketing cyclist that run traffic lights, however this article is about stop signs and allowing cyclist to view stops signs in San Francisco as yields, as they do in Paris, which I am also in favor of.

  • Willie D

    Denny sounds a bit flustered and not speaking eloquently making me feel he is just an upset neighbor that is set in his ways – likely also not really a bike rider, or if he is, only to try to prove a point. I am all for the Idaho Stop law – and I think that our city has an opportunity to be more like European cities like Amsterdam, Eindhoven or Groningen which embrace bike culture and bikes as a method of travel because it is easy, they have dedicated paths, and have different laws for bikes over motorized forms of transit. Because of this, these cities have a harmony between cars/drivers and cyclists/bikes, where there is an understanding almost to the point that bikes have more of a right of way, because they are slower, to get and let them out of the way first, then to continue in the motor transport which has been shown to keep the flow of all traffic. It’s the basic law there but also common courtesy and takes 2 seconds longer for a driver versus 10 seconds for a biker, and because of this, everyone feels way more safe. If we can embrace even a fraction of this mentality, we are on the right path. If we cant, then we are going to sit here and go around and around talking about how we want to change and no one will ever be happy.

    • Another Mike

      Amsterdam, Eindhoven or Groningen share one characteristic that San Francisco sadly lacks — they are flat. Remember why we have the cable cars to begin with — climbing hills dragging trams was killing horses. Cycling is just not practical in huge swaths of SF.

      • Donovan Lacy

        What does this have to do with the topic at hand? They also speak Dutch in Amsterdam and we speak English in SF. Speaking Dutch in San Francisco is just not practical in huge swatch of SF.

        • Beth Grant DeRoos

          Another Mike made an excellent observation which Willie D and I addressed as well. Amsterdam, Eindhoven or Groningen and even Paris are flatland as is Boise Idaho where having a red light allows for yield law to work much better than a hill set city like San Francisco. Which by the way is a bad stick shift car driving city as well.

          • Donovan Lacy

            I am not sure I follow the logic. Why would the terrain matter? And if it does, as long as we stick to the flatlands, like the wiggle, the Idaho stop is okay, but no Idaho stop on twin peaks, Bernal or San Bruno?

  • jazznjavasf

    Morgan Fitzgibbons: “Ninety-five percent of cyclists are already treating stop signs as yield signs.”

    It appears that Mr. Fitzgibbons and the San Francisco bicycling advocates in favor of the “Idaho Stop” have a decidedly different definition of “YIELD”, as qualified by my personal experiences and those of several others taking the time to comment on this issue.

    Verbatim from the Bicycle-related IDAHO CODE Title 49, Chapter 7:

    (1) A person operating a bicycle upon and along a sidewalk, or across a highway upon and along a crosswalk, shall yield the right-of-way to any
    pedestrian, and shall give an audible signal before overtaking and passing a pedestrian or another bicyclist.

    (1) A person operating a bicycle or human-powered vehicle approaching a stop sign shall slow down and, if required for safety, stop before entering the
    intersection. After slowing to a reasonable speed or stopping, the person shall yield the right-of-way to any vehicle in the intersection or approaching on
    another highway so closely as to constitute an immediate hazard during the time the person is moving across or within the intersection or junction of highways, except that a person after slowing to a reasonable speed and yielding the right-of-way if required, may cautiously make a turn or proceed through the intersection without stopping.
    (2) A person operating a bicycle or human-powered vehicle approaching a steady red traffic-control signal shall stop before entering the intersection, except that a person after slowing to a reasonable speed and yielding the right-of-way if required, may cautiously make a right-hand turn without stopping or may cautiously make a left-hand turn onto a one-way highway without stopping.

  • Beth Grant DeRoos

    San Francisco is NOT Idaho, so why have an Idaho idea in a BIG city? Boise is the biggest city in Idaho and has a population of 216,282 and is FLAT land. Spend time in Amsterdam Holland/Netherlands which has a population of 700k+ to see how a bike friendly city should be like.

    • As many have pointed out, Paris also has this law and is has a higher population density than San Francisco.

      • Donovan Lacy

        and Paris has just instituted a change that allows cyclist to treat red lights in certain situations (right on red and straights through a T-Intersection) as yield signs.

  • Trey Lathe

    Absolutely not. In my admittedly anecdotal experience (though 19 years of it), bicyclists in this city rarely yield, much less stop, at stop signs. On our corner, our 3 yr old daughter, me, a guest, a neighbor, my car door… ad naseum.. have been hit by bicyclists flying through stop signs without barely even slowing down. Just down the street, at a light, bicyclists run the red light all. the. time.

    If bicyclist activists want to be taken seriously, they should start spending more effort getting bicyclists to obey the current law.

    I am not anti-bike. I ride bike in the city. I applaud better and more bike lanes. I think there should be more bikes.

  • Nixonesque

    A lot of drivers are jerks. A lot of cyclists are jerks. The difference is cyclists are usually younger people and so they are much more annoying because they seem to be without the responsibilities or bad knees of those that require minivans and carpools. Drivers need to stop acting like old farts and cyclicts need to stop acting like teenage brats. Maybe if more people walked they would have more sympathy for the pedestrian, who are also often jerks but get to experience the world in a unique way. Also, I am a jerk.

  • marksf

    Denny Klein mentions a study that shows bicyclists are about as likely to cause injury accidents with pedestrians as cars, once miles traveled is accounted for.


    I’m very skeptical of this study. Most motor vehicle miles are driven on highways, where pedestrians are not allowed, or very rare. Of course there will be almost no pedestrian injuries during highway miles traveled by motor vehicles. Just this fact alone would heavily skew the study to make cars sharing roads with pedestrians look FAR safer than they actually are.

    To come to a proper figure, they would have to subtract the miles traveled on roads where there are no pedestrians.

    Also, the same study found cars to be FIVE TIMES as likely to cause pedestrian deaths as bicycles, when accounting for miles traveled.

    • Joseph Herbert

      Thanks so much for this. Another point: This refers to distance traveled, not time traveled.

      I’m wondering whether — referring to safety, human psychology,
      awareness, & decision-making — whether //amount of time spent// (on
      the road / in a given trip) — or, //number of trips// — might be
      better measures/statistics for safety,accidents…

      …. What are
      the comparable ratios of accidents per number of trips? Per hour
      traveled? Per number of trips that last =>20minutes?

      (in comparing driving cars to riding bicycles)
      Often, finding the right questions to ask is more useful than finding a particular answer.

  • Ciro Crespo

    Coming to a complete stop on a bicycle is about as ridiculous as telling pedestrians to come to a complete stop every time another pedestrian crosses their path in the mall.

  • Beth Grant DeRoos

    On a side note, can someone tell me what the bike theft rate is in San Francisco and if people get a bike license? We have a bike license for our bikes and have ID info stuck inside the area where the handlebar shank goes so if recovered the sheriff could see who the owner was.

    With some bikes running in the hundreds of dollars I would hope people would have some type of insurance for replacement if stolen or destroyed in an accident.

    • Donovan Lacy

      Bicycles are typically covered under homeowners insurance, however it is often not worth filing a claim depending on your deductible and potential increase in your premiums.

      Here is a link to a registration organization in San Francisco.

      SAFE Bikes is a program of San Francisco SAFE in partnership with the SFPD and the SF Bicycle Coalition to create a voluntary registration program that will help you more easily retrieve your bike. Go to safebikes.org to register your bike with the free database. Your serial number can be found on the bottom bracket.


      Here is another bicycle registration organization.


      I have registered my bikes and my wife’s bikes with both.

  • Jackie E

    i got a warning about stopping my bike at a stop sign once, so now if the street is too narrow for a car to pass me in the intersection, i take the lane, come to a full stop, then go. Very often cars behind me honk when i’m stopped or swerve around me without stopping at the stop sign so they can get by. There is a turning downhill stop near where i live, i think 20% of cars come to a complete stop there.

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