Boerner Makes Third Attempt to Pass Cyclist ‘Stop as Yield’ Law
Presently, the California State Law subjects cyclists to all laws applicable to drivers of motor vehicles, including stopping at stop lights and stop signs. However, assembly members Tasha Boerner and Laura Friedman have been trying to introduce a more common sense policy that would help make cyclists’ behavior more predictable for drivers. In a bid to alter existing laws applicable to cyclists, they introduced Assembly Bill 73 (AB 73), legislation that would allow right-of-way cyclists to yield at stop signs statewide.
The bill was first introduced in 2021 and pushed by Boerner, a cyclist herself, who was previously riding a bike to commute from Encinitas to Solana Beach. Her first-hand experience as a cyclist helped her understand how difficult it is for cyclists to make a full stop at a stop sign and also the time and energy that goes into doing it.
The stop is also referred to as the “Idaho stop” after Idaho became the first state to legalize a stop-as-yield law for cyclists in 1982. Proponents of Assembly Bill 73 argue the law would make the roadways safer for everyone, cyclists, pedestrians, and other vehicles on the road too.
The Bill has received immense support from the California Bikes Coalition, also known as CalBike. The coalition cited data from the state of Delaware, where this law has already been implemented. According to this data, collisions involving bicycles at intersections decreased by 23% immediately after this law was enacted.
Apart from Delaware, 10 other states have already implemented this law and have been yielding positive results, and lawmakers are pushing for the implementation of the same even in California on the same grounds. The bill will apply to regular bikes and e-bikes and expect all riders to come to slow enough speeds to yield and make a full stop if other pedestrians, vehicles, and bikes are at the intersection.
The bill was passed by the state Assembly and Senate in 2021, but Governor Gavin Newsom’s concern about the safety of this bill led him to veto the legislation. He stated, “The (bill’s) approach…may be especially concerning for children, who may not know how to judge vehicle speeds or exercise the necessary caution to yield to traffic when appropriate.”
In 2022 too, the Bill was reintroduced and passed in both houses of the California Legislature. However, Boerner pulled the bill ahead of the governor’s promised second veto. CalBike believes that due to the surge in the bike-friendly policy in Sacramento since last year, Boerner’s bill has a better chance for approval this time around. CalBike also stated that the bill doesn’t cost the state any money or resources and has tremendous support from citizens.
While the bill has received unwavering support from cyclists, some are still apprehensive about the safety concerns that would arise if the bill was passed. Howard LaGrange (active transportation and micro-mobility coordinator for BikeWalk Oceanside) said that cyclists need to treat riding bikes as riding cars. According to LaGrange, relaxing the law allowing cyclists to roll through stop signs will encourage unsafe behavior and will prove to be harmful to pedestrians, vehicles, and cyclists themselves as well.
“I teach that if you want to be safe on the road, you need to obey the law, be visible and in the right position,” LaGrange added. Despite his concerns about the new bill, he is glad that Boerner has actively been working to support the local cyclist community and is grateful for her relentless efforts.
Presently, many, many reassuring precedents and high-profile endorsements are backing the bill. Along with this, the growing pro-bicycle sentiment in Sacramento may also aid the bill’s passage smoothly.
For more details about the bill or in case of any injuries due to accidents, you feel free to reach out to an Austin personal injury attorney.