Calgary council may ask province to allow 'Idaho stop' for cyclists

Calgary council may ask province to allow 'Idaho stop' for cyclists

A city council committee is recommending Calgary ask the province to allow cyclists to treat stop signs as yield signs — a move known as the Idaho stop.

The recommendation is one of a list of changes the city's transportation committee is suggesting council support that would require the province to amend the Traffic Safety Act. The other changes would allow mobility devices and scooters in bike lanes.

The Idaho stop would allow cyclists to roll past stop signs if it's safe to proceed without coming to a halt.

Coun. Jeff Davison says the rules should be the same for all vehicles on the road.

"There's nothing more irritating to drivers than, you know, special exemptions made to cyclists," he said. "When cyclists hit a crosswalk and ride their bike across a street, they get annoyed. Why are you stopping traffic? You're either treated like a vehicle on the road or you're treated like a pedestrian."

Coun. Gian-Carlo Carra said the motion, which he brought forward, is a "no brainer."

 "If you're a driver or you're a cyclist, the mission should be to get more people cycling more often because the more cyclists there are, the less cars there are gumming up your commute," he told the Calgary Eyeopener on Wednesday.

A 2016 study from DePaul University in Chicago found that only one in 26 cyclists complies with the law to come to a full stop at lights, and suggested that it may be safer to allow cyclists to maintain energy and momentum if safe to do so. 

If you're a driver or you're a cyclist, the mission should be to get more people cycling. - Coun. Gian-Carlo Carra

It pointed to earlier research that showed cyclist injuries declined in Idaho after the law was first implemented there in 1982, and that having cyclists follow the same laws as drivers may actually be more dangerous than having them come to a rolling stop.

Coun. Shane Keating said he isn't sure the motion is worth the trouble.

"Why make something legal that is happening without consequence today?"

Council will discuss the proposal next month.