Dear Bikers, Please Stop Already

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“Cyclists don’t have to stop signs, do they?

This week’s post is based on a comment instead of an excuse. Last week I was biking with a friend on the back of my Boda Boda. I let her know that due to some road issues I was not going to come to a complete stop. She responded with the comment of the week, “Cyclists don’t have to stop at stops signs, do they?”

Yes, yes they do.

Later that day I was stopped at a stop light with two other cyclists. Both cyclists watched the cars cross in front of us, and both, as soon as there was a break in the cars, darted through the intersection.

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This seems to be a common misunderstanding among cyclists. It’s mixed in with other weird assumptions that because you’re not a car you can do unsafe, unpredictable things like ride the wrong way on a one way street (you can’t) or you can ride on the sidewalks (rarely) or you can turn left on red (wrong again).  Now, I get it, often vehicles will stop for you and stopping when you’re biking can be annoying. However, it’s just bad practice. One of the core pieces of of being safe on a bicycle is being predictable, and it’s hard to be predictable when you’re making up your own rules.

For those new to biking, take note that you are on a bike you are expected to stop at traffic signs/lights and let others take their turn. Now, from time to time you may encounter traffic signals that are triggered by cars and you won’t get the green if it’s just you waiting (this happens to me often at night) – in that case, you can try triggering the sensor with your bike like this. Thankfully I’ve been seeing more and more signs like the one to the right lately.

All that to say, as a cyclist that doesn’t want to get hit by cars or cyclists (and yes, it’s been close), please, just stop at stop signs and stop lights.

birthday bike ride

This post would’ve come in handy a few weeks ago when for my birthday my husband surprised me with a bike ride around town with all our friends. If you’re looking for a good time, I highly recommend a leisurely bike ride with your favorite people. If you want to avoid high stress levels, make sure they all know to stop at stop signs.

By the way, if you see videos at the bottom of this post, it’s not from me. It’s an ad from WordPress that allows me to keep blogging for free!

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6 thoughts on “Dear Bikers, Please Stop Already

  1. The tough question at a stop sign on a bike is, “What is a stop?” We have the one-foot-on-the-ground rule in my city… some have two feet down. My personal opinion is that if you simply slow to an absolute crawl, almost a track stop, you shouldn’t have to clip out. The visibility is better on a bike and you can check both ways without putting a foot down.

    Thanks for sharing.

    • Agreed – I think the degree of stopping varies. I am most concerned with the folks that just blow through stop signs like they aren’t even there. I’ll confess that when I’m biking in the early morning and late at night when there are no cars on the road, I am not doing full one-foot down stops.

  2. I think you made a great point in this article. Be predictable.

    And thus the EXACT reason why stopping at stop signs and stop lights doesn’t apply to bikes. Your friends is the best example, she (along with the rest of world) thinks bikes don’t stop at stop signs/ red lights. If everyone thinks this way, then it is *predictable* for cars to expect bikes to cross when their light is still red.

    -Eric

  3. Spot on with your advice in the post about being predictable — it would certainly help motorist-cyclist relationships, not to mention the safety factor! There is also the fact that if we, as bicyclists, want to be respected and have the same rights on the roads, we need to follow the same rules as other users.

    I teach (and use) a balanced stop. It’s by no means a track stand, but it is a full, wheels-not-moving, both feet still on pedals stop, that is legal in most places.

    At intersections with stop signs, I use it in conjunction with the hand signal for “stop,” to communicate to others, that yes, I am going to stop and take my turn as appropriate. Communicating my intent helps lessen the cases of a well-intentioned motorist trying to wave me through when it’s not my turn.

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