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Will Boston Cyclists Be Allowed to Ride Through Stop Signs and Red Lights?

Following San Francisco’s lead, Boston cycling advocates are discussing whether cyclists should have to come to a complete stop at stop signs. San Francisco’s supporters of the so-called Idaho stops – the state legalized them in the 1980s – may actually see their wishes become reality. But Boston’s another story. It’s no big secret that many cyclists already breeze through stop signs and lights, and there are rarely consequences. However, this is exactly the reason that Boston’s law isn’t likely to change any time soon. It’s just not a priority. Police in San Francisco have been actively cracking down on these “rolling stops.” Cyclists took to the streets, protesting the practice and also creating the perfect opportunity for a policy change. Contact a Boston injury attorney for more information.

According to Doug Johnson, a community organizer for the Boston Cyclists Union, the union would “definitely support” Idaho stops, with certain exceptions for busy or dangerous intersections. “We think, if implemented properly … it would have no adverse effect on safety,” said Johnson. “Most intersections that have stop signs right now have low traffic volume and low traffic speed.” On the topic of allowing cyclists to continue riding through red lights after making a complete stop, Johnson was less certain. “It would be a lot more complicated to implement,” he said. Although he went on to say that the union would “potentially” get behind it.

“We’re Still Trying to Get People to Ride in the Right Direction”

For the Boston Cyclists Union, however, Idaho stops are simply not a priority. The police targeting of rolling stops in San Francisco made the city ripe for a policy debate, but that’s not the case in Boston. “Boston cyclists do not currently have such an impetus to take action,” said Johnson. Additionally, MassBike Executive Director Richard Fries said the organization “would not support” Idaho stops, partly because Boston’s bike culture still has a long way to go before cyclists are adhering to the rules already in place. “We’re still trying to get people to ride the right direction,” said Fries. He is, however, interested to see how it plays out in San Francisco.

Brookline Police considered making rolling stops legal about a year ago. The department used its Twitter account to ask for public opinions on enacting Idaho stop rules. In this particular instance, they were only considering implementing the law on certain roads and during heavy commuting hours. The department has stated that it would like to start a conversation on the topic, but the law has thus far remained unchanged. In a statement by Bonnie McGilpin, a spokeswoman for Mayor Marty Walsh, the idea of Idaho stops, “has not been considered, but the city of Boston will continue to research and implement policies and practices that make traveling enjoyable, safe and convenient.”

Altman & Altman, LLP – Boston’s Bicycle Accident Attorneys

Currently in Boston, cyclists must come to a complete stop at all stop signs. It doesn’t appear likely that this law will change any time soon. However, accidents involving cyclists and motor vehicles are increasingly common. In 2013 alone, 743 bicyclists were killed and approximately 48,000 were injured in motor vehicle accidents. If you have been involved in any type of cycling or motor vehicle accident, the legal team at Altman & Altman, LLP can help. We have nearly 50 years of experience helping accident and injury victims obtain the compensation they deserve. Call us today for a free consultation about your case.

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