Steamboat Springs police, cycling advocates weigh in on proposal to let cyclists roll through stop signs | SteamboatToday.com

Steamboat Springs police, cycling advocates weigh in on proposal to let cyclists roll through stop signs

Scott Franz

Tim McClenathan rides his bike on the Yampa River Core Trail in November, 2013.

— Cyclists would be allowed to treat stop signs as yield signs under a bill that was recently introduced in the state legislature.

The bill would also allow cyclists to treat red traffic lights as stop signs and go straight or turn right before the signal changes to green if the intersection is clear.

Local cycling advocates are praising the proposed law, which would mirror a law that the state of Idaho adopted 35 years ago.

Proponents of the rule changes in Colorado argue most cyclist are already treating stop signs as yield signs, and it's safer for cyclists not to be stuck at an intersection with a vehicle.

"We feel pretty confident it's not going to be risky but rather be very practical for how cyclists, motorists and pedestrians interact right now," Routt County Riders President Jack Trautman said. "We're in full support of it."

Trautman stressed that under the new rules, cyclists would still need to yield to pedestrians and vehicles already at the intersections. He also noted that a study found cycling-related injuries fell by 14.5 percent in Idaho the year after the law was implemented.

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Summit County, Breckenridge and some other municipalities have adopted similar laws for cyclists, the Denver Post reports.

The new rules could also make cycling a more appealing alternative to driving, they say.

But local law enforcement officers aren't convinced the state laws should be changed.

When he learned about the potential legislation on Friday, Steamboat Springs Police Commander Jerry Stabile expressed some concerns.

He thinks the current rules shouldn't be changed because they are safer.

"How it is now is they have the same responsibilities as vehicles, and that's obviously for the safety of our public," Stabile said. "We would encourage everybody to recognize and adhere to traffic control devices because it's safer."

Stabile said if cyclists were legally allowed to run through stop signs, he thinks it could increase the chances of some cyclists going to the extreme and running through them even when it isn't safe.

The new law could also give cyclists a false sense of security, he said.

Asked how many cyclists have been cited for running stop signs in the city limits, Stabile said most contacts have resulted in warnings.

"We try to make a point of emphasis to educate," he said.

The new rules have drawn mixed reactions from state lawmakers.

The Denver Post reported that Sen. Randy Baumgardner, R-Hot Sulfur Springs, opposes the bill.

Baumgardner is the chairman of the Senate's transportation committee.

Sen. Andy Kerr, D-Lakewood, introduced the bill.

To reach Scott Franz, call 970-871-4210, email scottfranz@SteamboatToday.com or follow him on Twitter @ScottFranz10