Winnipeg Free Press: City’s cyclists may follow ’Idaho stop law’
By: Bartley Kives
6/10/2009 1:00 AM
THE city may consider letting cyclists roll through intersections with stop signs when there are no vehicles or pedestrians present.City council’s protection and community services committee is poised to ask the Winnipeg Police Service to study traffic regulations in Idaho and elsewhere that allow cyclists to slow down and yield at stop signs but not come to a complete stop when no other traffic is present.
On Friday, councillors Gord Steeves and Jenny Gerbasi plan to formally ask the police to spend two months studying the idea and recommend whether it could work in Winnipeg.
The move follows calls from cycling groups to change Manitoba’s Highway Traffic Act as well as a police initiative that saw cyclists ticketed for rolling through inner-city stop signs this summer, Steeves said.
“Nobody should complain about what police do when they’re simply enforcing laws,” said Steeves, noting it’s up to politicians to change the rules of the road if it’s deemed advisable to do so.
What’s being called the “Idaho stop law” could work in Winnipeg if it’s enforced, said Mark Cohoe, a director of Bike To The Future, a commuter-cycling lobby group.
“In the city of Winnipeg, it seems like stop signs are used for traffic calming. As a cyclist, it doesn’t make sense to stop every block along the road,” he said.
Bike To The Future also wants to see the provincial Highway Traffic Act amended to allow bikes to pass cars on the right, a move that’s currently illegal, even in curb lanes.
The group is also pushing the province to make it mandatory for motor vehicles to come no closer than one metre from cyclists when they pass on the left, especially in the shared lanes known as sharrows, Cohoe said.
While any regulatory changes would likely require the province to amend its rules first, there may be moves the city could make on its own, Steeves said.