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A bill that would allow bicyclists to go through an intersection without coming to a full stop if oncoming traffic doesn't "constitute an immediate hazard" failed to win a do-pass recommendation Tuesday from the House Public Transportation Committee.

House Bill 1520 by Rep. Brandt Smith, R-Jonesboro, has the support of Bicycle Advocacy of Central Arkansas and a state tourism official who portrayed the bill as a way to enhance Arkansas as a bicycle-friendly state and allow cyclists to avoid breaking the law on rides through areas with little-to-no vehicle traffic.

"This is where we're going as a culture that celebrates good health," Smith, a mountain-bicycle enthusiast, told the committee.

But the committee vote ended in a 7-7 tie, with the bill failing to obtain a majority of those present to send it to the full House.

The proposal often is called the "Idaho Stop." Idaho became the first state in 1982 to enact such a law, and 14 other states have gone on to adopt similar laws, according to testimony.

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"I'd like to see Arkansas be the 16th state," Smith said.

Joe Jacobs, the state tourism official, said passing the bill would increase the state's score on a national bicycling advocacy organization's rankings of states in bicycle friendliness. At one time, the state ranked 50th; it is now 36th, he said.

"We're for anything that will help make the state more bike friendly," he said.

Committee members expressed worry that the bill would make the roads less safe if all people using them weren't required to follow the same rules of the road.

Mason Ellis, who is the president of Bicycle Advocacy for Central Arkansas, testified that a 2008 study found no evidence that Idaho Stop had been a factor in fatal crashes involving bicycles.

He and others compared the bill to legislation that allows motorists to make a right turn at a red light if traffic allows.

"This law would not negate the responsibility of the bicyclist," Smith said.

A Section on 03/01/2017

Print Headline: Proposal to let cyclists glide, not stop, at intersections falters


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  • BradChance
    March 1, 2017 at 8:59 a.m.

    "...[T]he bill would make the roads less safe if all people using them weren't required to follow the same rules of the road." That's patronizing. Emergency vehicles follow different rules of the road, for example, and drivers understand how that works. The 2008 study found no evidence of increased risk of harm due to enacting a law like this. Sounds like some committee members are just making up excuses to be unsupportive of bicycling as an alternative means of transportation.

  • Foghorn
    March 1, 2017 at 9:24 a.m.

    Someone failed to inform Smith before he endorsed this bill that common sense legislation is anathema to this ledge. He needs to put a god/guns/or gynecology wrapper around it and it will pass with flying colors. Maybe make it applicable only to heat packing, pregnant evangelicals, or some such.

  • dumblikeme
    March 1, 2017 at 10:21 a.m.

    Why not allow ALL vehicles to go through an intersection without coming to a full stop if oncoming traffic doesn't "constitute an immediate hazard?" Why single out cyclists...if there's no immediate hazard?

  • BradChance
    March 1, 2017 at 10:49 a.m.

    dumb: one obvious difference is that a motor vehicle weighs approximately 4,000+ lbs.

  • jwheelii
    March 1, 2017 at 10:50 a.m.

    I would support this at intersections where all traffic has a stop sign, such as 3-way and 4-way stops. This could work at 2-way stops only in lower speed limit areas where there are adequate sight lines. But, how is "glide" defined? Not pedaling? Slow to walking pace? Note to Mr. Ellis (and all motorists) - Right on Red is ok after coming to a complete STOP.

  • NoUserName
    March 1, 2017 at 11:27 a.m.

    In my experience, bicyclists already glide through stop signs. They can stop like everybody else.

  • jwheelii
    March 1, 2017 at 11:28 a.m.

    Dumblikeme: They already do. STOP is interpreted as Screw The Other People. And 95% of our drivers won't recognize an immediate hazard until it hits their door.

  • caspertherat
    March 1, 2017 at 1:14 p.m.

    Bike riders stop at stop signs? Next you will be telling me they stay in the bike lanes and do not act is if they own the road or the Big Dam Bridges.

  • TimberTopper
    March 1, 2017 at 3:06 p.m.

    They are just trying to kill off you lib bicycle riders.

  • hurricane46
    March 1, 2017 at 3:09 p.m.

    Where I live the drivers from OK think a stop sign is a suggestion so it wouldn't affect them if it passed anyway.