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story.lead_photo.caption Cyclists and visitors check out Riverfront Park on Friday in North Little Rock. With the legislation signed last week by Gov. Asa Hutchinson, Arkansas joins Idaho as the only states that have laws addressing rules for cyclists at stop signs and red lights. - Photo by Mitchell PE Masilun

Starting July 1, Arkansas bicyclists will be able to treat stop signs as yields and red lights as stop signs, thanks to a new state law that advocates and officials say will help keep cyclists safe and traffic rolling.

Gov. Asa Hutchinson signed Act 650 into law on Tuesday. Joe Jacobs, chairman of the Governor's Advisory Council on Cycling, said the law allows cyclists to maintain their momentum and encourages them to ride on back roads.

"It's good for bike safety, it's good for transit in the state, it's good for tourism," Jacobs said. "It's a really good law, particularly for towns that don't have strong cycling infrastructure, like protected bike lanes."

The law states that bicyclists must slow down at stop signs and may proceed only if traffic is clear and the action doesn't present an immediate hazard. Under the same conditions, cyclists may take off before cars at stoplights after they stop.

"A lot of times, traffic cameras don't detect bikes. A bike could literally wait at an intersection indefinitely," John Landosky, Little Rock's bicycle and pedestrian coordinator, said of the law's impact on traffic flow. "It will allow the bicyclist to more effectively use a transportation grid that is designed for automobiles."

[RELATED: Complete Democrat-Gazette coverage of the Arkansas Legislature]

Arkansas is the second state to add a law that covers both stop signs and red lights. Previously only Idaho, which passed its version in 1982, has addressed both. Jacobs, who is the marketing and revenue manager at the state parks department, said the law would be helpful in marketing the state as "the cycling hub of the South."

Analysis of the Idaho law by sustainability and health consultant Jason Meggs in 2010 found that bicycle injury rates declined by 14.5 percent in the state the year after the law was adopted.

Little Rock city code states that bicyclists have the same rights and responsibilities as motorists. David Schoen, legal counsel at the Arkansas Municipal League, said state law would always pre-empt any local ordinance that conflicts with it.

Landosky said he would incorporate information about the new law into the city's friendly-driver certification course, a free, two-hour class that teaches participants how to drive more safely around bicyclists and pedestrians. He said he wanted to address any concerns drivers have about cyclists.

"It's a good time to make sure that people have those conversations. I certainly want to make sure that people know the difference between this being a law that says bikes can ignore stop signs and what it is, it says bikes may yield at stop signs," he said.

Dane Eifling, who coordinates bicycle programs in Fayetteville, said he hoped to plan a community group ride on July 1 to raise awareness about the new law, which he said he felt was a win for the state.

"It's kind of already happening, and it's really kind of common sense for everyone on a bicycle," Eifling said. "You're really only risking your own neck. It's unusual that you'd hurt anyone else. You can't just blow through stop signs. If you get hit, it's going to be your fault."

He added that Fayetteville, unlike most other cities, has traffic cameras that pick up on a bike at stoplights.

Michelle Smith, a member of the Governor's Advisory Council on Cycling, said she felt the new law would be especially helpful for cyclists navigating Little Rock's downtown, and for people who are new to the activity.

She acknowledged that many people who aren't familiar with cycling might not understand what the law does, but said it ultimately increases safety and convenience for people in cars and on bikes.

"We still have the same responsibility. We still have to look out for others," she said.

Metro on 04/07/2019

Print Headline: New biking law ready to roll out in Arkansas; change for cyclists affects use of stop signs, red lights

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Archived Comments

  • UoABarefootPhdFICYMCA
    April 7, 2019 at 11:21 a.m.

    So people on bikes dont have to follow the law.
    Sounds like the democrats are running things in local government.
    A'yup

  • GeneralMac
    April 7, 2019 at 11:39 a.m.

    any biker who treats a stop sign as a yield sign and collides with my truck will have their next of kin recieve a bill to wash the grill of my truck.

  • UoABarefootPhdFICYMCA
    April 7, 2019 at 11:57 a.m.

    Dont do it General....
    You see what they want to do to males who get in trouble anymore?
    imagine hitting someone. we are turning into india. you would be lynched within 5 minutes. p there swinging from a pole because you you didnt see a 25 mph jerkoff flying through a intersection.

  • NoUserName
    April 7, 2019 at 1:51 p.m.

    "John Landosky, Little Rock's bicycle and pedestrian coordinator"
    .
    For which LR has the privilege of paying nearly $50k for. The amount of money LR just throws down the drain is staggering. As to the topic, the article does say that this had made travel safer in other places. We'll see. I can see potential issues. Of course, I've never really seen a bicyclist follow the rules of the road anyway. So maybe nothing will really change.

  • jwheelii
    April 7, 2019 at 1:56 p.m.

    We already have enough of a problem of red-light and stop-sign runners by all types of vehicles.
    Increasing the bicycle percentage can't be beneficial.
    Having different rules for different vehicles can't be beneficial.
    *
    While not ignoring the rampant violations by cars and trucks (and indeed police and other government vehicles), when was the last time you saw a bicycle rider signal a turn or lane change?
    *
    Cyclists, for the most part, like being treated like a vehicle in a legal sense. But you can't have it both ways. You're alone at a traffic light and it won't turn green for you? This is a common cycling complaint, and there's an answer. If the sensors can't detect your bike and trigger the light, it's considered a defective light. In most states, after sitting through one light cycle, you can proceed—yielding the right-of-way to any approaching vehicles.
    *
    Without seeing the extent of the Idaho analysis by the "sustainability and health consultant", I suspect some bias.

  • Jfish
    April 7, 2019 at 3:36 p.m.

    Good common sense law, let's hear some more whining from the people who rarely exercise and complain about slow cyclists.

  • Testingonetwothree
    April 7, 2019 at 4:46 p.m.

    treat stop signs as yields and red lights as stop signs,.... if you treat a stop light as a stop sign then the rule is treat stop signs as yields. You just yield at all signs and lights. Deathwish 2018 is the name of this law

  • jwheelii
    April 7, 2019 at 5:58 p.m.

    I think the more "common sense" laws are those that require the same behavior from all parties. We share the roads, we share the responsibilities.
    Granted, speed differentials when moving create added see-and-be-seen issues, but at a stop, for a hundred years, all parties are basically equal and have been expected to act in the same way.

  • GeneralMac
    April 7, 2019 at 6:49 p.m.

    Do bikers want to be treated the EQUAL of motorists when on the roads ?

    No, they want SPECIAL rights !

    Be sure to have good health insurance and life insurance .
    A shame for non-cyclist tax payers to end up paying for your medical expe nse or burial expense when you zip thru a stop sign and get T-boned by a vehicle.

  • UoABarefootPhdFICYMCA
    April 7, 2019 at 10:07 p.m.

    jfish just out here with the bait.
    >.> obviously.

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