Guest Article: If it’s good enough for Idaho

Stop Signs are optional
Stops signs will soon be optional for those who cycle in Oregon | Illustration by Rachel Schuldt

Editor’s Note: This guest article was authored by Peter Werner, local bike activist and attorney. Have an article you’d like to publish about active transportation?  Email us via our Contact Us page.

The Idaho stop is now legal in Oregon

On August 9, 2019, Governor Brown signed SB998, which allows cyclists to roll stop signs and flashing reds.  This is commonly known as the “Idaho Stop.”  The legislative change is effective January 1, 2020.

Much debate occurred when the Oregon House considered this bill.  Most of the objections raised centered on the perception that the bill might embolden cyclists to engage in reckless behavior.  Paraphrasing, some legislators thought it would lead to chaos on the roadway and the endangerment of children.  Some chuckled over Oregon following Idaho’s lead.

In fact, research into traffic incidents in Idaho supports the premise that the Idaho stop reduces traffic and reduces traffic conflicts.  As a practical matter, it will make legal what most cyclists already do: scan the intersection and roll through.  It will also reduce the potential for contact with law enforcement.  As always, the onus is on the cyclist to make smart decisions while on the road.

And a friendly reminder that crosswalks
do not need to be marked to be a crosswalk.
Every intersection is a crosswalk.

Specifically, SB998 changes and makes the following a part of the Oregon Revised Statutes in section 814 (the bicycle section) to allow cyclists, when approaching a stop sign or a flashing red to:

  • Proceed  through  the  intersection;
  • Make  a  right  or  left  turn  into  a  two-way  street; or,
  • Make  a  right  or  left  turn  into  a  one-way  street  in  the  direction  of  traffic  upon  the one-way street.

However, a cyclist can be cited when one:

  • Fails  to  yield  the  right  of  way  to  traffic  lawfully  within  the  intersection  or   approaching  so  close  as  to  constitute  an  immediate  hazard;
  • Disobeys  the  directions  of  a  police  officer  or  flagger,  as  defined  in  ORS  811.230;
  • Fails  to  exercise  care  to  avoid  an  accident; or
  • Fails  to  yield  the  right  of  way  to  a  pedestrian  in  an  intersection  or  crosswalk  under ORS  811.028.

For an offense for either traffic control device, it is a Class D infraction ($115 presumptive fine).

SB998 also updates ORS 811.265 (Traffic Control Devices) so that stop signs and flashing reds do not apply to cyclists.  This effectively removes law enforcement’s ability to cite a cyclist for a violation of 811.265 (as to stop signs and flashing reds).

SB998 does not make any other changes to the motor vehicle code as to cyclists, so we still have to stop at signalized solid red street lights, railway crossings, and when directed by law enforcement or flaggers.