Safer for cyclists to yield, not stop, at intersections: research


CHICAGO, IL. (NEWS 1130) – You’ve probably seen a cyclist or two blow through an intersection while all you can do is sit there and shake your fist out the car window.

But some new research out of DePaul University in Chicago finds it may actually be safer and more efficient to let those riding a bike take the lead at stop signs and red lights.

“Safety research shows that yielding to managing the intersection by cyclists is often safer than having them stop at the intersection. Plus it makes laws more realistic for bikers that they can more realistically follow,” explains Joe Schwieterman with DePaul’s Chaddick Institute for Metropolitan Development.

A “stop as yield” law would allow cyclists to treat stop signs as yield signs, while at red lights, they would only have to pause long enough to ensure it’s safe to cross. “The safety research shows that it’s better for them to be aggressive at intersections and to manage them based on their judgement of traffic conditions,” says Schwieterman.

The idea is also meant to maintain bicyclists’ momentum.

Despite the laws, Shwieterman says the practice is already wide-spread. “We’re finding that it’s hard to enforce the rules when bicyclists in general don’t see the rules as attainable,” he says.

His research found only one out of 25 cyclists obey stop signs while two out of three run the red lights when there is no traffic. Some parts of Colorado recognize a limited form of the “stop as yield” law.

In BC, the fine is $167 for both drivers and cyclists who fail to stop properly at an intersection.

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