The Idaho Stop… Can’t we follow Idaho’s lead?

By | October 21, 2013
Trucks like this are common where
I grew up.

I grew up in the rural part of Southeastern Idaho.  I never ever thought of it as a cycling friendly area.  You are much more likely to see a jacked up truck with a gun rack, a four wheeler or a dirt bike on the road than a cyclist decked out in his/her spandex power ranger uniform.

A few years ago I headed back to visit home.  While I was there, it was my plan to do some training at altitude in preparation for RAMROD (Ride Around Mount Rainier in One Day).  As expected, the altitude was a killer.  I found a local bike shop that ran a weekly group ride, so clearly the cycling culture was taking hold!  However, I do not recall seeing any bike lanes.  When I headed out on my first ride, I was seriously worried about being run off the road by a hill billy in a jacked up truck.
I could not have been more wrong.  I found Southeast Idahoan drivers to be incredibly courteous.  They often waved, which threw me off.  In Seattle, if a driver gives me a hand gesture, it involves only one finger.  Nobody passed too close.  In fact, people would wait for a clearing before using the left lane to pass.  This extreme courtesy even extended to those with the jacked up pick-ups with gun racks.  I was very pleasantly surprised.  My riding experience in Idaho was AWESOME!  I wish I was an avid cyclist when I lived there in my youth!  Great scenery and great back roads.
Well my Idahoan friends have surprised me again.  Here is the Idaho related bicycle code.  Most of it is pretty similar to the law in Washington State.  However, there is one striking difference.  Cyclists are allowed to treat STOP signs as a yield.  Cyclists are allowed to treat a STOP LIGHT like a STOP SIGN.  They may even make a free right or left without stopping!  Shocking!!!  Even more shocking this rule has been in place since 1982!
Shouldn’t we be following Idaho’s lead?
For more information about the Idaho Stop I encourage you to read: http://www.bikeleague.org/content/bike-law-university-idaho-stop

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