Bikes and Stop Signs

A Montana state representative from Missoula has introduced a bill (HB 68) that would remove the requirement that bicyclists come to a full and complete stop at stop signs–making Montana communities more bike friendly.

Newwest.net has the full scoop, here

If you’re a Montana cyclist, please contact your representative and ask him/her to support House Bill 68.

Go to http://leg.mt.gov/css/find%20a%20legislator.asp to find your legislator, and go to http://leg.mt.gov/css/Sessions/61st/roster.asp?HouseID=1&SessionID=94 to get his/her email address.

The email I sent to JP Pomnichowski (D – HD 63) is included below:

Representative Pomnichowski,

Hello! My name is Mark Egge, and I’m an MSU student, living in your district.

I’m writing to encourage you to support House Bill 68, introduced by Rep. Robin Hamilton, which would allow bicyclists to treat stop signs like yield signs (at present, cyclists are, like their car counterparts, required to come to a complete stop at every stop sign).

I must admit, I was surprised to learn that, in Montana, bicyclists are required to stop at stop signs–something I learned one night, my freshmen year, while biking from campus to Safeway. The officer was unsympathetic, and seemingly unmoved by my incredulity that I had just been pulled over on a bicycle for riding through a stop sign at an empty intersection.

I wasn’t excited about the $135 fine I was instructed to pay, but the moving violation on my DMV record was the real rub.

In any case. All personal feelings aside, it seems only sensible that cyclists be allowed to roll through stop signs. First, cyclists like myself are constantly on the lookout for other traffic. When I bike, I never assume that a driver sees me, unless we make eye contact. Second, stopping at stop signs on a bike is a real pain–especially on a road bike with clips, instead of pedals.

At MSU, I study economics. Economists like to think of traffic signals as institutions that assign property rights–specifically, who has the right to be in an intersection at a given time. If there’s an accident, it’s easy to figure out who’s at fault–that is, who committed the property-rights violation–and, assuming insurance and the like, the other party can be made whole. But with a bicyclist, there’s really no question of defending property rights and making the other person whole. The cyclist is always going to look out for his/her own safety and protection. This suggests that stop signs are likely not necessary in the case of bicyclists.

I’m sorry to ramble on. Please support HB 68, which will make it easier to bike, facilitating fitter, greener, less congested Montana communities.

Thank you for your consideration and your service,
-Mark

With any luck, by the time I’m healed up enough to ride my bike again … I won’t have to come to a complete stop at every stop sign!

About Mark Egge

Two truths and a lie: Mark Egge is an outdoor enthusiast, opera singer, and a transportation data scientist. He lives in Bozeman, Montana.
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One Response to Bikes and Stop Signs

  1. jaderobbins says:

    You know what’s funny. I had a really big reply as to why I didn’t like this bill, but then I sort of applied the firearm “enacting more laws to stop those that break laws doesn’t work” idea to the situation and decided I support it.

    People who are going to hot shot on the roads on a bike aren’t going to follow the law anyway! Plus if they get hit by a car for being stupid and die then it’s evolution, right? Huzzah!