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Utah, North Dakota latest to adopt safety stop law for cyclists

Published March 30, 2021

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah (BRAIN) — Utah and North Dakota became the latest states to adopt the controversial Idaho Stop law, allowing cyclists to treat a stop sign as a yield sign. 

Rep. Carol Spackman Moss (D-Utah) submitted that state's legislation five times in the past 10 years, with cycling advocacy group Bike Utah supporting it each time. North Dakota also had been trying for several years to get the legislation passed. The law takes effect May 5.

Utah and North Dakota join Idaho, Washington, Delaware, Arkansas, Colorado, and Oregon. Colorado's legislation gives local authorities the framework to legalize the Idaho Stop if they want. In addition, a California coalition is backing another legislative attempt this year to adopt the Idaho Stop, also known as the safety stop law. In addition, the Oklahoma House of Representatives recently passed the legislation.

"Intersections are one of the most dangerous places for a cyclist to be," said Crys Lee, Bike Utah executive director. "This law should increase bicycle safety at stop-signed intersections as it has in places with similar laws like Delaware, where they saw a 23% decrease after enacting their stop as yield law in 2017."

Lee said Bike Utah will work with partners to collect data to prove why safety stop laws are effective in making intersections safer for cyclists. Critics of the safety stop say it's better to have an unambiguous set of laws that apply to all road users and having cyclists following separate rules makes their actions less predictable to motorists.

"As other states follow suit, they need to gather data and gather as many people and supporters as possible, and get yourself a champion like Rep. Spackman Moss," said Lee, who said Utah's passing of the law was a collaborative effort among many.

North Dakota Active Transportation Alliance Executive Director Justin Kristan thanked the state’s department of transportation in a blog post for its “forward-thinking efforts to make roadway design and roadway laws more equitable for bicyclists.”

Like Lee, Kristan highlighted the efforts of officials like Rep. Corey Mock (D-N.D.) for his bicycle advocacy efforts. Kristan also noted James Wilson, Bike Delaware executive director, “for providing insight into the Delaware yield law. … The future of transportation in North Dakota is bright.”

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