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Colorado senate bill would allow cyclists to go through red lights and stop signs

Posted at 12:58 PM, Feb 13, 2018
and last updated 2018-02-13 14:58:39-05

DENVER -- A new Colorado bill could rewrite the rules of the road for cyclists. Senate Bill 18-144 would allow cyclists to slowly go through stop signs and red lights without needing to follow the same traffic laws as cars.

The bill’s author, Senator Andy Kerr, is a cyclist himself. He says intersections are hazardous for people on bikes.

“The most dangerous time is when you're stopped at an intersection and a vehicle might or might not see you,” Kerr said.

Under the bill, cities and counties would be able to decide if they want to enact an ordinance allowing what's known as the Idaho Stop.

For stop lights, that would allow the cyclist to come to a stop at the red light and then slowly go through it if there is no oncoming traffic. Bikes would also be responsible for yielding to pedestrians.

“The key here is safety and making sure cyclists and motorists can get through an intersection as safely as possible,” Kerr said. “If there's no one there, let's keep the traffic moving, and the key is everyone gets to where they're going safely.”

For stop signs, the cyclist wouldn’t need to stop at all but can go through the intersection at a reasonable speed if it’s clear.

The bill doesn’t mandate the Idaho Stop but it sets up guidelines for municipalities that want to institute it.

“What we're trying to avoid here is one county have one set of laws and another county doing something completely different,” Kerr said.

Cyclists Denver7 spoke to liked the idea.

“I encourage the bill. I would say get out on your bike and ride the streets and see what it feels like and come to your own conclusion,” said cyclist Tim Oldham.

Meanwhile, cyclist Brad Haug says he can see the safety implications of the bill.

“You’re stopping every few blocks and it’s also dangerous because you’re sometimes in the right-hand turn lane and people are trying to turn in front of you and so you’re kind of lost in the middle and it’s just kind of an awkward experience,” Haug said. “Once you’ve got your rhythm going and you’re moving, I mean why not keep that forward momentum?”

The bill headed to the senate committee on state, veterans and military affairs Tuesday for its consideration. A similar bill failed in the last legislative session. This time it has bipartisan support and a co-author with Representative Yeulin Willett.