Plan allowing bikes to cruise through intersections is idling

A proposal that would allow California bicyclists to legally roll through stop signs and run red lights after halting is in limbo after its first hearing.

The Metropolitan Transportation Commission is considering pursuing state legislation that would change the California vehicle code to allow bicyclists to treat stop signs as yield signs, and interpret stoplights as stop signs. Those rules already are in place in Idaho, and Oregon legislators tried to pass the laws in 2003 to no avail.

During the first hearing on the topic Thursday, the MTC’s Regional Bicycle Working Group did not kill the idea, nor did it propose the agency’s governing board consider it for approval, which could lead to state legislation, said MTC spokesman Randy Rentschler.

The agency’s staff will further investigate the topic, Rentschler said.

Drivers and law enforcement had voiced strong opposition to the idea, citing a sense of bicyclist entitlement and the unfair advantages it would provide bike riders.

“What happens if a poor innocent driver or even someone who’s walking has the green light and the bicyclist flies on through?” San Franciscan Ann Dolyniuk said. “Somebody’s going to get hurt.”

Bicyclists, meanwhile, supported the idea, saying it is difficult to pedal from a dead stop and arguing that the law changes would improve traffic flow.

“I think it would improve the situation for bicyclists, and it would encourage more people to ride,” SanFrancisco bicyclist Kathleen McNamara said.

mrosenberg@sfexaminer.com  

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