SF Metropolitan Transportation Commission and the “Stop and Roll”

June 20, 2008 at 1:17 pm Leave a comment

This may be the worst proposal I’ve heard of yet. The SF Metropolitan Transportation Commission is considering pursuing state legistlation that would change the CA vehicle code to allow cyclists to treat stop signs as yeild signs, and stoplights as stop signs. Who comes up with and supports these things? And what’s worse are the reasons why people are supporting it. As Kathleen McNamara, who was interviewed by my favorite trashy morning paper, The Examiner, says, “I think it would improve the situation for bicyclists, and it would encourage more people to ride”. And probably kill a lot more cyclists on the road too, Kathleen; I hate to tell ya.

Now, I’ll be the first to admit that I have never ridden anywhere in San Francisco without running at least one stop sign, and yes, I have a very upset friend who was fined for blowing a red light on her way to work. It’s a bummer to get a ticket, but in all honesty, how often do people really get tickets for it? This isn’t like pot, where if everyone’s doing it anyway and it’s not hurting anyone, we should make it legal. Causing more traffic confusion, it turns out, actually does hurt people. Every single biker I’ve ever known has been either hit by a car or cut off by a car and crashed because someone blew a red light/stop sign.

Maybe I’m exaggerating. But at the very least, what happens is this: cars quit trusting that bikes will stop and will themselves start stopping at every intersection when they see a bike – even if they themselves have a green light. I see it all the time. Sure, it’s great to have cars taking notice of cyclists, but when cars start freaking out and breaking when they don’t have to it slows traffic, pisses people off, and ultimately creates an unsafe place for both bikers and drivers. Most of all, it’s going to increase my number one commuting pet peeve: being waved through when I don’t have the right of way. God, I hate that.

The bottom line is that bikes should be treated like any other vehicle on the road. They’re allowed to take up a full lane of traffic and they should have to stop at appropriate traffic signals. Yes, they have the “stop and roll” law in Idaho, but last time I checked San Francisco had a lot more traffic than Boise. If cyclists want more respect on the roads and a faster commute, they’ll just have to earn it like everyone else.

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