Tuesday, October 15, 2019

Council considers formalizing the “Idaho Stop” for cyclists

Safety concerns an issue for chief marshal

By Mark Reaman

It is apparently known as the “Idaho Stop” when a bicyclist slows down at a stop sign but doesn’t fully stop before proceeding through the intersection. The state of Colorado this year passed a regulation allowing municipalities to allow such “stops” and the Crested Butte Town Council is grappling with the idea of doing so.

Crested Butte chief marshal Mike Reily is adamantly against the idea of officially permitting such stops while realizing that is the standard procedure for most cyclists in Crested Butte.

“The increased potential for collisions between cyclists and larger motor vehicles that do, or assume they have the right of way is potentially disastrous,” Reily wrote the council in a memo. “As someone who has tended to many injured or deceased cyclists, and as one chief of public safety, I find the confusion this law presents for both cyclists and drivers, makes the adoption of this ordinance concerning.”

Reily told the council at the September 17 meeting that people in Crested Butte “typically do the Idaho Stop in town on a daily basis. But I am not comfortable giving my blessing to this. Will people blow through stop signs without due regard? It’s like giving all the kids in town a pair of sharp, pointy scissors. Most of them will not hurt themselves but a few will.

“It is also a pattern we teach our children,” Reily continued. “It is safer to teach them to make full stops at the stop signs.”

Reily said his officers see the Idaho Stop every day and, while they sometimes issue warnings to cyclists, they never issue citations.

Councilman Will Dujardin pointed out that adopting such an ordinance simply would be putting in place what already happens currently. “We are a bike community,” he said. “This isn’t different from what happens now. I’d be in favor of bringing it up to give people a chance to talk about it.”

Councilman Kent Cowherd said it didn’t make sense from a safety perspective. “As a former firefighter I have seen accidents at intersections. If this contributes to the loss of one life, it would be horrible,” he said.

Dujardin suggested the council continue the discussion at the October 1 council meeting to see if the public wanted to weigh in on the topic. The council agreed and it will be discussed again at that time.

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