Council allows bicycists in Aspen to yield at stop signs |

Council allows bicycists in Aspen to yield at stop signs

Andre Salvail
The Aspen Times

Unlike drivers of cars, trucks and motorcycles, bicyclists in Aspen no longer will be required to come to a halt at stop signs, the Aspen City Council decided in a 4-0 vote on Monday.

The change in municipal law doesn’t mean that bicyclists will always have a right of way. The city’s new ordinance means that bicyclists must treat stop signs as they would a yield sign, slowing down or stopping when motorists are visible and moving along cross-streets at intersections, or when motorists are turning in front of them on the same street.

“We want to make it very clear that we’re not giving anyone permission to blow through stop signs,” said City Assets Manager Scott Miller, who worked with other city staffers to shape the ordinance.

“This (ordinance) is not just to legalize what’s already happening,” City Engineer Trish Aragon said in reference to a perception by some in the community that local bike riders tend to ignore stop signs.

Aragon said that studies show that allowing bicyclists to yield at stop signs is a safety measure. Proponents of “stop as yield” cite the difficulty some cyclists have in dealing with the bike’s inertia when coming to a hard stop and faulty gear that fails to allow them to stop on time.

In February 2013, the Aspen Police Department brought the idea of “stop as yield” to a council work session. Police said that a 2008 study by the University of California at Berkeley showed that Boise, Idaho ­— a city with a large percentage of regular bicyclists compared with motorists — has become much safer as a result of the change.

Last year, a concern arose as to whether the rule change will apply to Highway 82, a state thoroughfare. Aragon said at Monday’s meeting that bicyclists will not be allowed to yield at red lights or stop signs along Highway 82 or while using the cross streets at intersections with Highway 82.

Cyclists 10 or younger, or biking along county roads, also must continue to stop at stop signs instead of yielding.

“I’m looking forward to this,” Mayor Steve Skadron said. “I think it’s the right thing for this community.”

Officials also have said they hope that “stop as yield” will result in more bicyclists using city streets. Riding a bicycle along sidewalks in Aspen remains illegal, and violators can be subject to a fine if caught.

Councilman Art Daily, who is traveling, was not present for the meeting.

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