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Bikes can now roll through stop signs in Washington state

A new Washington law requires cyclists to safely yield at stop signs, but they are no longer required to fully stop.

WASHINGTON, USA — Bicyclists will no longer be required to stop at stop signs starting Thursday, Oct. 1 in Washington. 

Lawmakers say the new rule is actually safer for people on bicycles.

Washington Bikes, a statewide bicycle advocacy organization, released a statement on Sept. 28 that said the law will allow people on bicycles to treat stop signs as yield signs.

The “Safety Stop” law will make it legal for bikers to roll through an intersection if the coast is clear. Previously, they were required to stop, like motor vehicles.

According to the release, Washington is the fifth state to legalize the Safety Stop, following Idaho, Delaware, Arkansas, and Oregon. Unlike Oregon, which passed this law in 2019 after multiple attempts, 2020 was the first year that the Safety Stop was introduced in the Washington State Legislature.

The law, which was sponsored by Sen. Andy Billig (D-3rd) and Rep. Joe Fitzgibbon (D-34th), requires people on bicycles to slow down to a reasonable speed that would allow them to stop if necessary.

Therefore, people riding bikes must yield to any vehicle already in the intersection.

Idaho was the first state to pass the law called the “Idaho Stop.” Since then, bicycling injuries in Idaho dropped by 14% in 1982 —  the same year the law went into effect.

Here is a map of the bicycle deaths that happened in Spokane County from 2014-2018.

Credit: City of Spokane

Here is a map of the bicycle collisions that happened in Spokane County from 2014-2018.

Credit: City of Spokane