Traffic laws are made with the idea that everyone is driving a car. In the US, four-way stops are all over the place, at almost every intersection. In a car, this isn’t a huge burden, since it requires no human effort to stop and then accelerate again.
But with a bike, this requires significant expenditure of energy.
(In the absence of cross-traffic, it is also rare to see any vehicle actually come to a complete stop.)
Bicyclists could opt-in to a “EXTREME BIKING” program in which the following two traffic law changes are made:
1) A red light becomes a “STOP + YIELD” together — the bicyclist must stop at the light and must yield to any cross traffic. In other words, cross traffic (going through a green light) continues to have unimpeded right-of-way.
2) A STOP sign becomes the rarely-seen YIELD sign. A bicyclist can pedal right through it, but must stop and wait if there is any cross traffic.
All other traffic laws remain the same.
But: Drivers are generally averse to bicyclists playing fast-and-loose with traffic laws. In order to gain support among drivers, the program will be opt-in, and every bicyclist who wishes to abide by these new rules must put an “EXTREME BIKING” sticker on their bike.
In a collision with a bike with the EXTREME BIKING sticker on it, the bicyclist will be assumed to be at fault unless evidence implies otherwise.
Ideally the sticker should be something evocative of the danger, like a skull on fire or pirate flag of some sort.
Above: a suggested suitably-evocative sticker design.
PROS: Recognizes the unreasonableness of requiring bicyclists to stop so frequently. Should increase average bike speed. May result in amazing Youtube dash-cam montages of disasters. Will increase the number of available organs for transplant.
CONS: None whatsoever!
Update: apparently this idea was implemented in 1982 as Idaho HB 541 and is commonly referred to as an Idaho stop. Unusually, it remained an exclusive feature of Idaho for 35 years, until finally a second American state implemented such a law in 2017.
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