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Bike Advocates Support 'Idaho Stop' Legislation

<p>Casey Negreiff bikes in commuter challenge.&nbsp;</p>

Alex Johnson

Casey Negreiff bikes in commuter challenge. 

New legislation in Oregon that could allow bicyclists to treat stop signs like yield signs is on its way to the full Oregon Senate for a vote.  

The proposal, pushed by state Sen. Floyd Prozanski, D-Eugene, has support from one of the state’s main biking advocate groups — The Street Trust.  

“This has been a law in Idaho since 1982 and that’s why it’s sometimes called the ‘Idaho stop,’” said Jillian Detweiler, The Street Trust’s executive director about the legislation.  

“It basically would reflect the physics of bicycling,” she said. “It’s a little harder to get going once you stop than it is to just hit the accelerator of a car and it mirrors the sort of subjective judgment that cars make all the time.” 

The proposal would allow cyclists to use their own judgement when approaching a stop sign or blinking red lights if there are no other cars with the right of way.  

“Especially on our quieter streets, this is how people already ride and they do it safely,” Detweiler said. If it passed into law, education would be key for bicyclists and drivers alike.  

“We would want to make sure that there’s good communication about this rule so that everybody using the roadway has the same expectations,” she said. “We would also be a proponent of encouraging cyclists to be on the lookout for pedestrians who might be crossing the street.”

Along with the “Idaho stop” proposal, Detweiler said there’s other bike- and transportation-related legislation The Street Trust is looking out for this legislative session.

The advocacy group’s priority is HB 2682, legislation that would clarify that bike lanes continue through intersections, even if the lines aren’t technically there.  

There have been cases where bicyclists have been hit by vehicles and judges have ruled that bike lanes don’t continue through intersections, Detweiler said. 

“The legislation on that has been heard by the Joint Committee on Transportation and we’re hoping it will be scheduled for a work session soon too,” she said.  

Detweiler said The Street Trust is also very interested in other legislation that’s not specifically adhered to transportation but could affect it.  

“Cap and invest is a big interest to us,” she said. “That would potentially generate a lot of funding for transportation and we would like to see that invested in alternatives to the combustion engine.”

“We’ve been supportive of bills that are aimed at increasing housing density because we know that’s needed to make public transportation successful. We have been concerned about displacement of households that are well-served by transit, so some of the renter protection bills have been of interest to us.” 

Detweiler said she is also interested in increasing safety in driving and hopes for proposals that would require drivers to re-take tests every other time they renew their licenses, every 16 years.  

Copyright 2019 Oregon Public Broadcasting

Meerah Powell is a general assignment and breaking news reporter for OPB. She previously worked as a news reporter and podcast producer for Eugene Weekly in her hometown of Eugene, Oregon. Along with writing and audio work, Meerah also has experience with photography and videography. She graduated from the University of Oregon's School of Journalism and Communication.