Washington law allows bikes to use stop signs as yield signs

October 12, 2020 GMT

EVERETT, Wash. (AP) — Bicyclists in Washington state can now slowly roll through a stop sign if there is no oncoming cross-traffic but doing so is still illegal for motorized vehicles and for people using roller skates, scooters and skateboards.

The technique for bicyclists is called a “safety stop,” The Daily Herald reported. It allows anyone on a bike to scan intersections without stopping and proceed if it is clear, but stop if it is not.

The new law went into effect Oct. 1, legalizing a practice frequently used already by cyclists and commuting bike riders.


“It’s a way of helping keep everybody moving,” said Kristin Kinnamon, board president of Sharing Wheels Community Bike Shop. But “under no circumstances should a bike rider be blasting through a stop sign.”

Cyclists are still required to come to full stops at rail crossing and behind a school bus.

There is less concern if a bike rolls through a stop sign compared to if a car does, said Barb Chamberlain, Active Transportation Division director at the Washington State Department of Transportation.

“If I roll through the stop, I’m not hurting anybody else,” she said.

Chamberlain said drivers have greater responsibility on the road because they could cause more damage in collisions with bicyclists or people who are strolling or walking.

Drivers “need to keep doing what they should have been doing all along: looking out for people who are not in a vehicle,” she said.

Democratic state Sen. Marko Liias, one of the bill’s original sponsors, said the law is specific to bike riders, so people roller skating, on scooters or skateboards still must stop at stop signs. That could change for scooters that have brakes, Liias said.