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An urban street crowded with cyclists

Should laws change to encourage safe, efficient cyclist behavior?

Tonight’s music video is Nightmares on Wax performing “I Am You”, live as part of a recent set on KCRW.

From early rave classics in the UK to the infections rhythms of his new album, Nightmares on Wax, aka George Evelyn, has had enduring success as a major force in modern electronica. He showcases some new tracks live on Morning Becomes Eclectic.

Cyclists on the street just love to ignore the traffic laws. Joseph Stromberg on Vox claims adapting the law to cyclist behavior makes sense and might even be safer.

There are already a few places in the US that allow cyclists some flexibility in dealing with stop signs and red lights. Idaho has permitted it since 1982, which is why this behavior is known as the Idaho stop. … Idaho’s rule is pretty straightforward. If a cyclist approaches a stop sign, he or she needs to slow down and look for traffic. If there’s already a pedestrian, car, or another bike there, then the other vehicle has the right of way. If there’s no traffic, however, the cyclist can slowly proceed. Basically, for bikers, a stop sign is a yield sign.

If a cyclist approaches a red light, meanwhile, he or she needs to stop fully. Again, if there’s any oncoming traffic or a pedestrian, it has the right of way. If there’s not, the cyclist can proceed cautiously through the intersection. Put simply, red light is a stop sign. This doesn’t mean that a cyclist is allowed to blast through an intersection at full speed — which is dangerous for pedestrians, the cyclist, and pretty much everyone involved. This isn’t allowed in Idaho, and it’s a terrible idea everywhere.

Several states have similar “Dead Red” laws, which lets cyclists (and motorcyclists) ride through a red light if there’s no traffic, if the cyclists have stopped for set periods of time, and if the light isn’t changing because its sensor doesn’t register bikes.

[…] There are even a few reasons why the Idaho stop might even make the roads safer than the status quo. In many cities, the low-traffic routes that are safer for bikes are the kinds of roads with many stop signs. Currently, some cyclists avoid these routes and take faster, higher-traffic streets. If the Idaho stop were legalized, it’d get cyclists off these faster streets and funnel the bikes on to safer, slower roads.

The article also offers some reasons why cyclists act this way. As an urban cyclist myself, I’d like to see laws adapted to favor non-vehicular use of streets. We really need to redesign our cities and roads for better use by cyclists if we’re going to encourage more people to give up their cars for some trips.

Bonus: Matt Bors sums up the problems of #BringBackOurGirls in one comic.

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Photo by Sara Richardson released under a Creative Commons Share Alike license.

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Kit OConnell

Kit OConnell

Kit O’Connell is a gonzo journalist and radical troublemaker from Austin, Texas. He is the Associate Editor and Community Manager of Shadowproof. Kit's investigative journalism has appeared in Truthout, MintPress News and Occupy.com.

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