The Idaho Stop

The Idaho StopIn 1982, the state of Idaho made it legal for cyclists to treat stop signs as yield signs. Essentially, if it's safe, you can slow down a little and blow right through the stop sign.

I consider myself a safe cyclist. I signal, I respect vehicles on the road and, for the most part, I follow the rules of the road. When I encounter a stop sign and the coast is clear, however, I treat it like a yield sign. I risk the ticket and practice the Idaho stop.

It would be nice to see the Idaho stop adopted here, so that becomes legal. I'd also like to explore the option of treating a red light like a stop sign. In essence, if you're on a bicycle, stop signs become yield signs and red lights become stop signs.

Bikes. Bikes as far as the eye can see. #rtccto

It just makes sense, doesn't it?

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Comments (58 - click here to join in!)

Nigel Trousershrapnel


I respectfully disagree.
Respect for vehicles means following the rules to the letter.
Can't pick and chose the rules that are convenient for you.

June 17, 2014 @ 11:15 AM

this guest

'The Idaho Stop'

This begs for a Chubby Checker song.

June 17, 2014 @ 11:16 AM


@ Mike - I too will have to respectfully disagree. A vehicle is a vehicle...rules for one are rules for all.

June 17, 2014 @ 11:23 AM

Toronto Mike Verified as the defacto Toronto Mike

Those traffic rules were created for automobiles.

They could be modified to promote cycling and make that safer.

Every study I've seen suggests the Idaho stop does both.

June 17, 2014 @ 11:25 AM


If it doesn't interfere with automobiles but makes cycling safer I think we should implement this.

June 17, 2014 @ 11:32 AM


This does make sense to me, if cyclists were actually following the rules of the road.....Unfortunately Mike, most cyclists I encounter are not like you. They rarely signal; and forget stop signs....they blow through red lights; cut in and out of traffic; cut people off; some cyclists ride beside each other instead of single file and then get pissed at me when I use the horn and tell them to ride behind each other. etc, etc.

June 17, 2014 @ 11:34 AM


@Nigel Trousershrapnel

Only a Sith deals in absolutes.

June 17, 2014 @ 11:35 AM

Toronto Mike Verified as the defacto Toronto Mike


There are shitty cyclists just like there are shitty drivers.

The Idaho stop makes sense regardless.

Just my 2 cents!

June 17, 2014 @ 11:36 AM


I don't understand how it makes it safer for cyclists.

My problem with it is the idea that if you give an inch, they'll take a mile. I just can't see most cyclists being careful enough, and witness assholes regularly making poor decisions re: stop signs and lights with traffic and/or pedestrians around.

I guess I'm guilty of rolling stops at signs; I slow to the point where I could literally stop on a dime. I just ritualistically gear down as I approach a stop and unclip one pedal to be ready in case of a sudden stop. I don't see it as a big deal to speed up again.

June 17, 2014 @ 11:39 AM

Toronto Mike Verified as the defacto Toronto Mike

This little video I found explains it nicely.

There seems to be only one study on the subject, and it concludes the Idaho stop is safer.

Personally, I'd like to see it legalized so cops can focus on dangerous activity, like what Sammi describes.

June 17, 2014 @ 11:45 AM

this guest

the Idaho stop also takes other traffic issues into consideration.
Huge problems there with spillage at intersections.
The Idaho stop gives cyclists an opportunity to get past bouncing potatoes before they hit the chain or spokes.

June 17, 2014 @ 12:04 PM

Eekan Boo

"Rules are rules". Yes, but, there is the letter of the law and the spirit of the law. The Idaho Stop makes sense on many levels.

June 17, 2014 @ 12:32 PM

4X4 Time

From what I see most cyclists already think The Idaho Stop is legal.

June 17, 2014 @ 12:53 PM


I agree with Mike.

Let common sense rule and not archaic laws. On the other hand, there are some clueless cyclists who will inevitably ruin it for everyone by doing something stupid which results in there being an accident.

June 17, 2014 @ 12:56 PM


Let me clarify, I am not against this...I just can see how it could result in some trouble.

As always, I just hope common sense prevails. I'm not against the concept of the Idaho Stop...I just don't want to see it result in injury or death....

June 17, 2014 @ 1:13 PM

Mark H

It makes perfect sense until you get riders (and there are quite a few of them) that take the common sense out of the equation and just run stop signs. I was hit by a cyclist in Mimico a few years back who ran a stop sign at near top speed while I was finishing crossing the street. His Idaho Stop defense was very lame given the situation.

The point being is I do not trust the majority of cyclists who are more concerned with how fast they can get from point A to point B than the people around them to use their common sense when applying the law. I've seen way too many times when cyclists put the onus on all those around them, be they pedestrians or cars to look out for bikers as they go about their business.

I'm glad if you say you're not like that Mike, but I think you're in the minority.

June 17, 2014 @ 2:17 PM

Nigel Trousershrapnel

The 2003 Toronto Bicycle/Motor-Vehicle Collision Study found that cycling collisions in Toronto were most frequent on arterial roads, particularly on central east-west routes where cycling volumes are high. The majority of collisions occurred at intersections, and most of those involved motor-vehicles turning. Away from intersections, collisions most often involved a motorist overtaking a cyclist, or opening a car-door in the path of a cyclist. In the central area of the city, the most frequent type of collision involved a motorist opening their car-door in the path of a cyclist. Almost 30% of the cyclists were cycling on the sidewalk immediately prior to their collisions.

It's a eleven year old study but I'm sure the numbers stand up in 2014.
Why tempt fate?

June 17, 2014 @ 2:22 PM


I'm not in favour of it. If cyclists want to share the road, then they need to follow all rules of the road.

Mike, I assume you would support this rule for cars too?

June 17, 2014 @ 2:41 PM

Toronto Mike Verified as the defacto Toronto Mike


I'm currently supporting this rule for bicycles, not cars.

June 17, 2014 @ 2:44 PM


Why not?

If it's safe for a bike to go through, than I'd argue it's safe for a car to go as well.

June 17, 2014 @ 2:53 PM

Toronto Mike Verified as the defacto Toronto Mike


You're missing the whole purpose. It's so a cyclist doesn't lose all momentum and have to start again from a complete stop.

June 17, 2014 @ 3:01 PM


@ Mike - If that's your reasoning, I could say the same thing about the fuel efficiency in my car...burns less gas if I never come to a complete stop and have to rev up again.

June 17, 2014 @ 3:15 PM

Toronto Mike Verified as the defacto Toronto Mike


If you want to burn less gas, park the car and take transit or bike.

June 17, 2014 @ 3:16 PM


@ Mike - If you can find transit that goes from Central Pkwy & Rathburn in Mississauga to Bronte & Dundas in Oakville, I will happily take it (such a thing doesn't exist by the way. Oakville transit goes no further than 3rd line on Dundas, and Burlington transit stops at Appleby Ln, thus making dundas from 3rd to Appleby no-mans land)

The bike isn't feasible.

June 17, 2014 @ 3:21 PM

Toronto Mike Verified as the defacto Toronto Mike


Regardless, the Idaho stop has nothing to do with fuel efficiency and everything to do with aiding cyclists. I'm pretty sure I didn't mention the environment once in this entry.

Remember, I'm a car owner who drives, too. As a driver, I'd be fine coming to a complete stop at a stop sign if the Idaho stop were legal here.

June 17, 2014 @ 3:24 PM


I never said you did Mike. But you said:


You're missing the whole purpose. It's so a cyclist doesn't lose all momentum and have to start again from a complete stop.

And all I'm saying is if that's the only reason for giving cyclists exceptions to the rules of the road, then by that logic, cars should be able to use the Idaho stop to preserve fuel efficiency.

Like a lot of other people have said, if all cyclists were as courteous and aware of their surroundings as you, no-one would have a problem. But it has been my experience that Mark H is right, MOST cyclists expect the rest of the world to watch out for them...

You say your aren't like that, and i completely believe you, but you are the minority....again, in my experience.

June 17, 2014 @ 3:43 PM

Toronto Mike Verified as the defacto Toronto Mike


I don't understand your point.

The reason the Idaho stop exists is because it's difficult for a cyclist to come to a complete stop at a stop sign and start up again. That's why cyclists are allowed to treat a stop sign like a yield sign in Idaho (and why I do so here in Ontario).

Why are you equating that with fuel efficiency? You say "by that logic" and then state something completely void of logic.

June 17, 2014 @ 3:51 PM


It uses more fuel to rev you engine from a complete stop.

June 17, 2014 @ 4:05 PM


The same momentum you're talking about for cyclists plays into fuel efficiency as well.

June 17, 2014 @ 4:08 PM

Toronto Mike Verified as the defacto Toronto Mike


But it's completely different.

You must recognize the difference between a human powered bike and motorized vehicle.

This entry was to promote a law change that would allow cyclists to treat stop signs as yield signs. If you want to start a movement for cars to conserve fuel, that's entirely different and your prerogative, but that is not this!

June 17, 2014 @ 4:10 PM


I think it's silly to equate bikes doing it with cars doing it -- there's a massive difference in ... mass. And momentum.

But yeah, it's not that I don't trust cyclists, I don't trust people to not take advantage.

Also anecdotally, the cyclists that tend to "blow through" intersections aren't even the fast ones. They're casual idiots... with the exception of fixie hipsters or couriers, but they're a whole other culture unto themselves.

June 17, 2014 @ 4:48 PM


I certainly get that it makes life easier for cyclists, and also in theory makes it more attractive for people to be cyclists as well.

However, my bigger concern is that it seems to promote maximum conflict between cyclists and drivers of motorized vehicles.

First, because the leapfrog effect -- whereby drivers pass cyclists on straightaways and cyclists pass drivers at stops -- increases the total number of driver/cyclists interactions, particularly with the same driver & cyclist repeatedly.

Second, because people tend to get upset where there is a perception of differing rules, there's a pretty common effect where drivers get upset at cyclists who are operating under more lenient rules than they are.

Third, drivers generally don't expect to be passed in their own lane, so the unexpected appearance of a quickly-moving cyclist can create a shock that also heightens emotions.

The combination of the emotional reactions and repeated interaction is potentially dangerous. The problem can't be reduced just to a factual, non-emotional discussion of energy efficiency. Education can help, but you can't just change a law and expect people to automatically adapt.

June 17, 2014 @ 5:05 PM


I'm not sure I understand why we assume cyclists have better capabilities at making judgement calls than motorists.

June 17, 2014 @ 5:39 PM



As far as I can tell, it's simply that cyclists are less lethal.

June 17, 2014 @ 6:33 PM

Toronto Mike Verified as the defacto Toronto Mike

1. Cyclists are far less lethal.

2. Cyclists are aided by a modification to our stop sign laws in a way that drivers are not.

June 17, 2014 @ 6:39 PM


No it doesn't make sense.

Cyclists have to obey stop signs also. I've had TOO MANY close calls going through intersections making a right turn & cyclist on left going through a stop sign.

Pedestrians stop, look & listen at stop signs & obey traffic signals & wait for a green light to cross the street.

Why should cyclists have special privileges?

June 17, 2014 @ 7:30 PM

Toronto Mike Verified as the defacto Toronto Mike


"Why should cyclists have special privileges?"

To encourage cycling.

June 17, 2014 @ 7:36 PM


@ Mike

Cycling is great but they have to respect the laws of traffic as that was my point. Obey signs & signals.

June 17, 2014 @ 8:03 PM

Toronto Mike Verified as the defacto Toronto Mike

Interesting discussion, all.

No safety issues in Idaho since '82, but no other jurisdictions have followed suit.

I'll continue to risk the ticket and treat stop signs like yield signs.

June 17, 2014 @ 8:14 PM


So wait. If the cyclist makes an error in judgement and proceeds through a stop sign he gets smucked. But apparently the Idaho Stop is actually safer than making a full stop, so presumably, cyclist aren't getting smucked. If a motorist slows down to a rolling stop, even the worst error in judgement means he's going to proceed through at less than 5 km/h and will get his front end clipped. There's no reason to believe that would happen any more frequently than it would with a cyclist.
Seems to me the likelihood of a lethal event happening would still be one involving a bicycle.

June 17, 2014 @ 9:02 PM


Law makers get things wrong a lot of the time when they're concentrating on one thing so the last thing I want them to also consider is encouraging a particular activity. I'm all for making our cities more accessible for all forms of better transit but to think City Hall/Queen's Park has any ability to juggle two balls in creating traffic laws is nonsense. A traffic law is about safety and safety alone. If it's safer to allow the Idaho Stop - great - do it but not because it's going to encourage cycling that makes our roads neither safe or dangerous.

June 17, 2014 @ 9:14 PM


Jesus Mike, the laws are there to protect drivers, cyclists and pedestrians.
Get off your bycling high horse and respect those laws.
You have 3 children, and this is definitely not a good example to set, not to mention the fact that they would like to see you come home every night in one piece.
And I don't give a damn about the statistics in Idaho. You live in Toronto.
Man , I wonder why bikers piss me off!

June 17, 2014 @ 9:42 PM

Toronto Mike Verified as the defacto Toronto Mike


I don't think you understand the law. There is no safety issue.

And again, I just forked over $204 to renew my license, plates and get an emissions test. I'm a driver, too.

June 17, 2014 @ 9:53 PM


Follow the rules. This is one of the more annoying things cyclists do.

I am all for bikes on the road and cycle on the road myself on occasion. Whenever a cyclist does this it catches me off guard. Most cyclist I witness that go through stop signs swerve to the center lane more. If they pass at the exact same time I'd likely clip them. So many cyclist been doing this I've seen cops pull groups of 20 over at once for tickets.

I find his an extremely pretentious thing for cyclist to do. Respect the rules if not, non cyclist will never be on your side when it comes to legislation.

June 17, 2014 @ 10:10 PM


What we need is a set of rules and regulations specifically designed for bike travel, as well as clear markings on the roads, driver education, and cyclist education and licensing for public roads. Ignoring the problem won't make it go away. Cyclists aren't going to stop riding any time soon, nor should they.

June 17, 2014 @ 10:10 PM


Bikes and cars are different, and everyone knows it. Bikes and cars already follow different rules of the road, as most states don't allow bikes on freeways. It may sound fair to suggest that radically different vehicles, with radically different destructive potential, behave in exactly the same way, but such dogmatism may kill more people than it saves.

June 17, 2014 @ 10:12 PM


@ Corey

Your last comment. You made my day.

Short summary - 40+ years ago my Dad driving & I in the car hit a child driving his bike between 2 parked cars. Only his leg was pinned by the wheel & police & Ambulance said everything will be fine.

2 hrs later the police came to our door & said to my Dad that the kid had passed away with head trauma.

My dad was never the same person with 5 kids of his own.

June 17, 2014 @ 10:17 PM


I don't ride that often but if someone can prove that this "Idaho stop" causes more accidents, I would say Mike is wrong. Apparently it doesn't so I have agree with him in that we should follow that law and allow cyclists to roll through.

June 18, 2014 @ 8:25 AM

Aurora Bob

Mike, you said "I treat it like a yield sign. I risk the ticket and practice the Idaho stop".

I think you are also risking serious injury or death.

Cyclists using the road a vehicles and should be subject to the HTA like all other vehicles. Cyclists want respect from auto drivers, guess what respect for the rules of the road garners respect.

We already allow anyone that can pedal a bike on the streets, perhaps we should allow Idaho stops if every cyclists takes a test for his/her license, then we have a common level to work with.

I so NO.

June 18, 2014 @ 8:58 AM

Toronto Mike Verified as the defacto Toronto Mike

I think that's the key. The Idaho Stop isn't about ignoring stop signs. It would be very dangerous for a cyclist to ignore stop signs. It's about treating them as a yield sign.

When you're driving, a yield sign is very safe. You slow down and prepare to stop if necessary, but if it's safe to proceed, you do.

Almost all cyclists already do this. I'm looking to legalize it so police officers can focus on dangerous activities instead of shooting these fish in a barrel.

June 18, 2014 @ 9:04 AM


Also reading about The Idaho Stop is seems the research proving is safer is very questionable.

One study to my knowledge has been done which was not peer reviewed and had cycling enthusiast behind it. It doesn't mean the findings are incorrect rather, we wouldn't accept those standards with science/medicine and shouldn't here. Therefore, this study should warrant further study on the topic but shouldn't be taken as fact.

June 18, 2014 @ 1:28 PM


Now just a minute Rob. Are you implying that this decline your ballot Idaho Stop campaign was invented and promoted by a conservative-friendlycyclist-friendly group?

If so, then it's a pointless PC biker trick that I hope few people fall for.

June 18, 2014 @ 6:41 PM


@ Corey - Just spit my tea out :)

June 19, 2014 @ 8:51 AM

this guest

the science and medicine of the Idaho Stop shows once and for all
we reap what we sow

June 19, 2014 @ 8:59 AM


I think changing any rule of the road to suit a particular segment is just asking for trouble. We already have enough issues with drivers, pedestrians and cyclists ignoring the laws we have in place now. Modifying the stop sign law just for cyclists is going to make a bad situation even worse.

June 19, 2014 @ 6:51 PM


Actual stopping at stop signs. One Second only though; I think the law here is for a three seconds' firm stop.
A real 'stop' however brief it is, isn't the same as a slow glide-though or yield motion.

June 19, 2014 @ 7:52 PM

Tim Legere


Hey guy. Whether or not you choose to use the "Idaho Stop" is up to you (Freedom of Choice and all), but, do you really want to take a chance on injuring yourself and possibly others? You have a beautiful family who love and depend on you. Please think of them too.

Note: I know, I played hockey (on my 50th birthday) without a helmet and yes ... I AM an idiot! Have a great day Mikey!

June 20, 2014 @ 8:58 AM


@Nigel Trousershrapnel

I respectfully say that your argument is a "straw man".

Mike proposes to change the law so that what he is doing becomes legal.

If you disagree on a change of the law on the basis that "you need to follow the law", that makes no sense.

It is not illegal for a legislature to change the law!

January 16, 2015 @ 3:21 PM

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