State lawmakers in Virginia voted to delay the approval of a proposal that “would have allowed bicyclists to yield instead of halt at stop signs,” calling instead for a police study of how the rule has been implemented and its effect in other states. As more people in Virginia use bikes as a primary mode of transportation, proponents of the measure argue that it can save lives. “According to the League of American Bicyclists, 40 percent of cyclist fatalities nationwide are the result of rear-end crashes, which are a concern at stop signs,” reports Luz Lazo in The Washington Post. Colorado, Washington state, and Delaware have similar laws. Idaho passed one in the 1980s, letting bicyclists “treat stop signs as yields.”
The bill “also voted to require drivers to change lanes when passing bicyclists if three feet of distance isn’t possible and to allow two cyclists to ride side by side in a lane,” measures which bicycling advocates praise as “a step forward in making roads safer.”
When it comes to treating stop signs as yield signs, Lazo writes, “many bicyclists already do this because it maintains momentum.” Opponents claim that “allowing cyclists to abide by a separate set of rules would make their actions less predictable and riders less safe.” The legislature called for a study before making a final decision on the issue.