S.F committee OKs 'roll-through' for cyclists at stop signs

'Idaho Bike Law' allows bicyclists to keep biking, but at maximum speed of 6 mph

An ordinance that would allow bicyclists to roll through stop signs while traveling at a maximum speed of 6 mph in San Francisco has been approved by the Land Use and Transportation Committee and will now go to the full board for approval where it will need eight votes to override the mayor's expected veto.

San Francisco Supervisor Malia Cohen, who chairs the committee, cast the sole vote Monday against the ordinance, known as the Idaho Bike Law, citing concerns that the law could be confusing for everyone on the road.

Cohen, however, said she would support a pilot program in a neighborhood with heavy bicycle traffic to see what the impact will be for pedestrians, cyclists and motorists.

San Francisco Supervisor John Avalos, who introduced the legislation, said this ordinance is about requiring cyclists to yield, defining what yielding looks like, and making it a low priority for police enforcement.

San Francisco supervisors Jane Kim and Scott Wiener voted in favor of the ordinance Monday, arguing that police resources should not be spent on enforcing cyclist violations that do not result in the city's most dangerous collisions, and said that they instead wanted to see police focus their resources on the most common violations by motorists that pose the greatest

threat of injury and death on the road.

Kim and Wiener both stressed that bicycling in San Francisco is growing rapidly and said that it's unrealistic to ask cyclists to come to a full stop at stop signs when there are no motorists or pedestrians at the intersection.

"Slow, cautious, rolling stops" should not be an enforcement priority, Wiener said Monday.

Chris Cassidy, a spokesman for the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition, said that passage of the law could potentially decrease injuries to cyclists in the city, citing data from the UC Berkeley's School of Public Health, which found a 14.5 percent decrease in injuries in Idaho following the passage of the bike yield law, as well as 30.4 percent fewer bicycle-related injuries in Boise, Idaho compared to people cycling in similar cities without a bike yield law.

A flood of bicycling advocates shared their views, largely in favor of the law, with the committee during the public comment period.

A letter from San Francisco police Chief Greg Suhr addressed to the committee and read aloud at the meeting Monday states that he could not support the ordinance because it could "create dangerous situations" and lead to people running stop signs that could cost a person their life.

San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee also opposes the bike yield ordinance and has threatened to veto it should it be approved by the full Board of Supervisors. Eight of the 11 supervisors must vote in favor of the ordinance to override the mayor's expected veto.

The director of the Mayor's Office on Disability, Carla Johnson, said at the committee meeting Monday that she worried the ordinance could be a threat to people with disabilities and cause increased pedestrian injuries.

"San Francisco is not Boise, Idaho," Johnson said, referring to the heavy pedestrian traffic in San Francisco in comparison to cities in Idaho where the bike yield law is in place.

Johnson said, however, that she is supportive of seeing a pilot program for the bike yield law.

Board President London Breed said she believes the police department should not be cracking down on cyclists "for breaking a 1950s law that is completely outdated" and that they should instead be focusing their limited resources on motorists who violate laws that are likely to lead to fatalities or injuries.

Regarding Mayor Lee's stance on the proposed bike yield law, Breed said Monday, "I think he's wrong."

Hannah Albarazi, Bay City News

— Bay City News Service

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6 people like this
Posted by WhyNotCarsToo?
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Dec 8, 2015 at 9:37 am

That just doesn't make sense, and if it's good for cyclists then why not cars?

3 people like this
Posted by enough
a resident of Mohr Park
on Dec 8, 2015 at 9:40 am

If this really get fully approved, which I hope it won't, who is getting sued if the bicylist gets hit by a legally right-of-way motorist? Lets get real! Next, pedestrians can cross the street if deemed clear? Lets ban cars from city streets then. Enough is enough!

2 people like this
Posted by chemist
a resident of Downtown
on Dec 8, 2015 at 9:45 am

All stop signs should be replaced with yield signs. When there is traffic at or approaching an intersection, a yield sign is equivalent to a stop sign. Otherwise, neither cars nor bikes should have to brake to a complete stop. Braking to a complete stop wastes brake pads, time and fuel and does not increase safety.

5 people like this
Posted by Spudly
a resident of Laguna Oaks
on Dec 8, 2015 at 10:54 am

I did not know the City of San Francisco was able to override the State of California Vehicle Code which clearly states bicycles are required to stop at posted signs.

2 people like this
Posted by BobB
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Dec 8, 2015 at 11:26 am


Have you ever driven in a country that had "yield" signs at every intersection, meaning no signs? Developing countries have plenty of them. It isn't fun or safe. Stop signs were invented for a reason.

2 people like this
Posted by So What's New
a resident of Avignon
on Dec 8, 2015 at 12:21 pm

How often has anyone observed a cyclist coming to a stop at an intersection except when their own life is at risk?

How often has anyone observed an officer ticket such an offense?

After several fatalities in SF, they finally decided to prosecute a bicyclist that hit and killed a pedestrian.

I suspect that this law has nothing to do with allowing bicyclists to glide through stop signs since there is currently no penalty for not stopping.

3 people like this
Posted by Patriot
a resident of Birdland
on Dec 8, 2015 at 1:48 pm

Such a bad law for all of California!

Like this comment
Posted by jim van dyke
a resident of Vintage Hills
on Dec 8, 2015 at 3:11 pm

@Whynotcarstoo: it's obvious you're not an everyday bike rider, because you would know the answer to your question if you were.

@ So What's New: I don't generalize when I refer to auto drivers who cut me off, run stop signs, excessively speed, so why should you? Your obviously-false comment makes me feel that my pervasive efforts to obey stop signs while cycling are of limited value, but I'll keep following my own moral compass rather than be influenced by your falsehood. Thinking requires moving beyond stereotypes, so why not stretch a little? Accuracy matters.

There are dangerous cyclists and dangerous motorists. There are also safe drivers and safe cyclists. I have yet to encounter a car or bike that dictates safe or unsafe behavior on the part of the individual, but if you know of one please post a link to it!

Answers from people courageous enough not to hide behind an alias are preferred.

4 people like this
Posted by Map
a resident of Del Prado
on Dec 8, 2015 at 5:10 pm

It would be a boon to coffin makers, bike repair shops and most important- ambulance chasing lawyers! And yet another reason to stay out of S.F.

Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

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