Thursday, January 20, 2011

Arizona's Stop Signs Could Become Yield Signs

Many of you will remember that last year a bill was introduced in the Arizona State Legislature that would have effectively permitted cyclists to treat stop signs as if they were yield signs. If the bill had become law, cyclists approaching a stop sign would have been required to slow down, and if the intersection had been clear, would have been permitted to proceed through the intersection without coming to a complete stop. The bill made sense, because a cyclist who comes to a complete stop and puts a foot down requires much more time to clear an intersection than does a cyclist who is able to keep both feet on the pedals. However, most non-cyclists do not understand this, so the bill never reached the floor. It was killed in committee on a straight party-line vote after all of the minority Democrats on the committee voted in favor of the bill but every Republican committee member voted to kill it.

Now a new version of bill has been introduced in the house by representative Daniel Patterson, who is a bicycle rider. This bill may overcome the objections of those who consider cyclists to be "Spandex-clad leftist liberals" who demand superior privileges by treating motor vehicles and cyclists equally, giving both classes of road users the right to proceed through a stop sign without coming to a complete stop as long as they are able to safely make it through the intersection without interfering with traffic that has the right-of-way. If the bill is passed, I wonder what purpose stop signs will serve. Why not just change them all to yield signs? Of course, regardless of the law, most motorists and almost all cyclists already treat stop signs as if they were yield signs, so the proposed change to the law could be viewed as an attempt to make the law reflect reality.

If you would like to read the bill and follow its progress through the Arizona State Legislature, you can do so by clicking here.