Delaware Adopts The Idaho Stop – At Least Partially

Oct 11, 2017

Two and a half decades after passing one of the most sought out regulations by cyclists, Idaho is no longer the only state in the country that allows them to yield at stop signs. 

Advocates in at least eight other states have tried – and failed – over the past 25 years to adopt their own version of the fabled Idaho stop, including Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Minnesota, Oklahoma, Oregon and Utah.

That law lets cyclists treat stop signs as a yield sign. They can also come to a complete stop at a red light and move through the intersection if traffic is clear.

Now, not only is Delaware the first state to ratify the U.S. Constitution, but also the first to import the stop rule – at least partially.

“People invented the [stop sign] and then when they decided to put them up in intersections all over the place, nobody was really thinking about bicycles. We’ve just sort of been caught up in the net like a dolphin when fishermen go after tuna,” said James Wilson, head of Bike Delaware.

His group lobbied heavily for the change, eventually getting the Delaware General Assembly to sign off on it earlier this year.

Cyclists in that state – which bears a striking resemblance to Idaho (albeit 42 times smaller in area) – will still have to wait for a green light at intersections with traffic signals, so they’ve taken to calling it the “Delaware Yield.”

Drivers would also have to change lanes when passing those on bicycles if they can't safely leave three feet of room between them. The law also forbids motorists from honking at cyclists and animal-drawn buggies used by central Delaware's sizeable Amish community.

Wilson’s advice for other states trying to pass similar laws? Get law enforcement on your side early. 

"The reality is if you are trying to move a road safety bill and the police don't like your bill . . . you might as well go home," he said.

Also, Wilson suggests coming up with a better way to brand the rule than the “California Roll” – something with which many native Idahoans would likely agree.

For more local news, follow James Dawson on Twitter @RadioDawson

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