Bicycle safety continues to draw the attention of city officials as the number of cyclists grows across the city. With increasing attention to the environmental and health advantages of opting for bicycles instead of motor vehicles and public transportation, and the advent of bike share programs like Hubway, the volume of bicyclists has increased dramatically. With this movement towards cycling, bicycle laws may need to be reconsidered to ensure that cycling remains an attractive option for Bostonians, while ensuring the safety of cyclists, pedestrians, and motor vehicle drivers.
Boston.com reported that on September 17th, the Brookline Police Department solicited comments via Twitter regarding the adoption of a new bicycle law commonly known as the Idaho Stop. The law would allow cyclists to treat red lights as stop signs, and treat stop signs as yield signs, thereby letting cyclists move more quickly and have more freedom on roadways. In Idaho, bicycle injuries declined by 14.5% in the year following the implementation of the law.
Existing bike laws in Brookline follow a “same roads, same rules” approach, which requires cyclists to adhere to the same road rules as drivers of motor vehicles. Steve Sidman, Executive Director of the Boston Cyclists Union criticized this approach, noting that the rules applicable to motor vehicles cannot logically be applied wholesale to bicycles. Stidman also recommended the construction of a separate bicycle path on Commonwealth Avenue to reduce bicycle accidents.
Brookline Police Lieutenant Philip Harrington noted that there are no definite plans to adopt the new rule and the department is merely opening the topic for discussion at this point.