Colorado Cyclists Want To Run Red Lights, Legally

Colorado Cyclists

A Bill in the Colorado Senate Would Allow Cyclists to Treat Traffic Stops Differently

Colorado is on the cusp of giving cyclists their own set of rules on the roads. Senate Bill 93, introduced by Senator Andy Kerr, a Democrat from Denver suburb Lakewood, proposes to allow cyclists to treat red lights as stop signs, and stop signs as yield signs.

The bill is intended to relieve tension between cyclists and drivers on roads, as motorists often complain of cyclists flaunting traffic laws. A DePaul University study conducted in Chicago found that ““1 cyclist in 25 comes to a complete stop at stop signs, and 2 out of 3 go through red lights when there’s no cross traffic.” The authors went on to advocate for a law similar to Senate Bill 93.

“If a cyclist can clear the intersection before traffic accumulates and before other cars come up to the side, it decreases the chance of a crash,” Kerr told Denver Channel 7. 

Other states have already put forth this type of legislation to some success. A 1982 law in Idaho affords these exact privileges to cyclists. Known as the “Idaho Stop,” it is credited with reducing cycling-related injuries by 14.5 percent according to a 2010 study from the University of California at Berkeley School of Public Health.

“I’ve ridden Boise, Idaho, several times for work and stop-and-yield feels safer, so it’s very appealing to me,” Ryan Schutz, executive director of Denver-based Bikes Together, told the Denver Post.

While the bill has already gained bipartisan support from the Capital, it still faces significant pressure. Namely, Randy Baumgardner (R., Hot Sulfur Springs) and John Cooke (R., Greeley), who serve as the chairman and vice chairman of the legislature transportation committee, have both come out in opposition of the bill. “I would go the opposite direction and say there should be more enforcement for bicyclists who violate red lights and stop signs.” Cooke told the Denver Post. 

But still, the bill has been praised by local cycling advocates. “Everyone’s already doing it, so why not defuse the problem? As a driver, I hate it when they do it, but that’s because it’s illegal, right? We’re playing on the same field here.” Brad Stevens, executive director of Bike City, told the Denver Post.

The bill will be sent next to the Colorado Senate Transportation and Motor Vehicles Committee. No timeline has yet been set for a vote.