ASPEN — City of Aspen officials are considering a change to city laws that would allow bicyclists to simply yield at stop signs.
State and local laws require cyclists to stop at stop signs, just as they do with motorized vehicles. Some city employees, tasked with coming up with ways to fulfill a City Council goal to enhance bicycle and pedestrian safety, have suggested to council members that it's safer to allow a cyclist to yield rather than stop at the big, red, octagon-shaped signs.
Aspen Assistant Police Chief Bill Linn said the “stop-as-yield approach” has proven to work in states such as Idaho, which changed its law allowing cyclists the option to yield some 30 years ago. A 2008 study by a University of California at Berkeley researcher showed that in Idaho, police and motorists have accepted the measure as public policy that makes sense. Boise, which has a large percentage of regular bicyclists compared with motorists, has become safer as a result of the change, the study concluded.
“The study determined that bicyclists are actually at greater risk when they stop at stop signs because of a few factors,” Linn said. “One of them being that there is always an unknown element when a bicyclist comes to a stop sign to the motorists in the area. Is that bike going to stop or not?”