Bill allowing Utah cyclists to yield at stops fails to advance

Published February 2, 2010 6:02 pm

House » Opponent says proposal sends wrong message to kids.
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Utah bicyclists will have to keep stopping at stop signs or risk a ticket, regardless of whether there's any traffic.

The House Transportation Committee on Tuesday deadlocked 6-6 over a bill that would legalize a rolling stop when a bicyclist finds it safe to cross and also allow for stopping and then riding through red lights when there is no traffic. The tie vote means the bill fails to advance to the House floor.

Rep. Steve Mascaro, R-West Jordan, said the change would confuse drivers and send the wrong message to children taught to wait out red lights and walk their bikes across the street. Like others on the committee, he added that he believes drivers would be sued and found at fault for hitting cyclists who make poor choices.

Some cyclists argued that it's safer to treat a stop sign as a yield and keep eyes on the road instead of looking down to remove and then replace cleats in the pedals. They also said it's unfair to expect cyclists to wait at a red light that favors the other direction of traffic when they're not heavy enough to trip the sensors that would change the signal for a car.

Idaho has had a similar law since 1982, and Rep. Carol Spackman Moss, D-Holladay, proposed HB91 because she said it would improve safety and promote cycling.

"It's a common sense issue," Rep. Janice Fisher, D-West Valley City agreed. "People have to be able to make adjustments for themselves. Bicycle riders are not going to pull out in front of a car and hope that they get hit so they can sue somebody."

Not all cyclists at the hearing supported the bill, though. Jason Bultman of the Salt Lake City Bicycle Collective said he feared the changes could anger motorists.

"Many motorists hate me because of things that other cyclists are doing," he said.

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