How to Stop Bicyclists From Running Stop Signs

The obvious answer to how to stop bicyclists from running stop signs is… remove the requirement for bicycles to stop at the sign.


Seriously, though, stop signs are a function of cars being low to the ground with limited visibility, hard to stop and hard to maneuver in an intersection. None of that is true for bicycles, which put the rider up high with unobstructed views and ultra-fast stopping and turning.

A bicycle entering a 4-way road stop has about as much need to stop as a car entering a four lane roundabout, virtually none although there are the occasional times when it’s necessary. And let’s be honest, the flow of not stopping (roundabouts) is significantly safer than stopping (intersections).

According to studies done by the Federal Highway Administration and the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, roundabouts resulted in a 40 percent reduction in pedestrian collisions, 37 percent reduction in overall collisions, 90 percent reduction in fatality crashes and 75 percent reduction in injury collisions.

90% reduction in fatality crashes when allowing people to roll into intersections instead of trying to stop them with a sign…

You can perhaps see why stop signs make about as much sense for road safety on bicycles as requiring car drivers to stuff a chamois in their pants for safety.

A “chamois” is a European mountain-goat-like animal, and the first chamois was made from actual chamois skin.

Also bicycles incur a massive cost to the rider when stopping without a need to be stopping.

Car drivers just empty their wallets and burn gallons of gas without a second thought while the cyclist often actually cares about wasted energy, ergo a big reason for being on a bicycle in the first place.

It comes to mind when reading the Colorado news that drivers are losing their mind when bicycles ride through an empty intersection without stopping.

“We’ve certainly seen some disgruntled drivers who think this is just going to cause chaos on our streets, and we just don’t think that aligns with reality,” Todd said of the new law. “The reality is that many bicyclists do this already. This is legalizing a common behavior. The bicyclists know it will be safer for them. Bicyclists can only proceed when they already have the right of way.”

Exactly. When you have right of way on a bicycle you use that right. Rolling is not a crime.

Car drivers nonetheless may go to absurd lengths to stoke fear about what could happen when bicycles are simply allowed to do what is sensible and right, which definitely comes out in the article.

“I can see a cyclist rolling up behind me as I begin to make a right turn and plowing into me, or I run over them as they cruise through the stop sign.”

This is the voice of someone who treats their vehicle as power and dominance where “right of way” feels to them like justification for killing others in their path, instead of operating with a duty of care.

No cyclist wants to plow into anything and likewise no driver should be thinking they will run over people.

If a cyclist is approaching a stop with a car already stopped, or if a cyclist is approaching a car about to make a right turn… the cyclist should NOT proceed (and in nearly 100% cases would not) because of the OBVIOUS harm to self and others in doing so. The concept of rolling through a stop on a bicycle is as simple as rolling on any road that is CLEARLY UNOBSTRUCTED. When any obstruction appears, bicyclists are not seeking some kind of special power over others in the way that car owners often do.

One thought on “How to Stop Bicyclists From Running Stop Signs”

  1. Your “analogy” of cars and roundabouts and bicycles and four-way stops is perfectly accurate for a simple reason:

    Roundabouts have clear lines of sight. Four-way stops are exactly the same for bicycles.

    When I approach a roundabout, I can see cars coming around it. I don’t have roof pillars and low seats with poor angles over doors that block my view. I have yet to encounter a roundabout where my view of oncoming traffic is blocked. Needless to say, this is done on purpose.

    A four-way stop may have cars parked along the road, walls, houses, and trees that interfere as I approach the intersection so when I’m in a car I can’t see oncoming traffic. This is not the same for bicycles sitting up high and in the open as you point out.

    You, of course, highlight how car drivers have “I got control problems” argument. The most obvious one is the huge numbers of SUVs and trucks out on the street today which sit just as high–if not higher–than a cyclist yet add so much weight/mass to get there they can barely control their rig not to mention tons of visual obstacles inside their cab and over their windows. There’s also the “I can stop quicker” of bikes which is right. Since a cyclist can stop quicker, they should be expected to do so only when necessary instead of cars that reach unsafe speeds and then can’t stop even when they try.

    Basically, the car whine is, “Wah, wah, I wanna keep my big dog status in society and feel less important when cyclists can do things I can’t!” Which is perfectly understandable. But which is more important–safety or false status?

    See, here’s the thing. I hear cyclists all the time talk about how safety is the most important thing. “I just want to get home alive!” they will cry out, begging motorists to be careful around them. But if you suggest that cyclists should do something to enhance their safety, like rolling through intersections as a roundabout to increase their safety… the car drivers say “What?!” I shouldn’t have to allow a cyclist to ride safe! I wanna use my gasoline power as status!”

    Cyclists are all about safety, unlike car drivers (who abuse their exoskeleton designed to protect them inside and not anyone outside) And cyclists are about efficiency, unlike car drivers (who fail to understand it’s faster and healthier to keep a constant 12mph than go 0-60 in 2 seconds between red lights and slam on the brakes). And if a collision happens? Cars say “It’s not my fault! It’s that cyclist failing to respect my authority!”

    Finally, I’ll just point out a simple thing to think about: How often have you heard of a car who kills or injures pedestrians and cyclists in an intersection? Almost never. How often have you heard of a car who kills or injures others stopped at or near a stop sign? Very often. Think there might be a relationship there?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.