There’s reasonable rules that should apply to bikes, but stopping at stop signs isn’t one of them. Coming to a full stop is hard/tiring on a bike, unnecessary, and usually not expected by cars anyway — I slow everyone down *more* when I come to a complete stop because everyone is left confused about right of way. Bikers should slow down for stop signs, navigate the right of way (using eye contact and body language), but should not be expected to stop. (The “Idaho stop” (they allow this in Idaho) basically codifies normal stop sign practice as law.)
For anyone riding in a hilly area, stopping at stop signs can be especially tiring. It's hard to get good momentum going during a climb. What do you guys think?
I'm inclined to agree with Ian. You're much more sensitive to your surroundings on a bike, since there is no barrier between you and the sights and sounds on the road. Rolling through a stop sign seems reasonable to me.
Merlin MacDonald wasn't crazy about bikes behaving like cars in all instances:
...one idea in this article is just plain dangerous. You write “Cyclists are supposed to ride in the road, and they’re supposed to behave like cars.” Excuse me? Put the two parts of that sentence together and I think many readers may interpret that cyclists can ride anywhere in the driving lane they want. Here in bike-friendly Berkeley there must be quite a bit of confusion on this point, so I looked it up. The local Bicycle Code of Conduct instructs to : Ride as near to the right as practicable; and Don’t needlessly block the road. So “ride in the road” and “behave like cars” could be replaced with something like “ride on the far right edge of the lane, the farther over the better.”
I'm not sure I agree here. Like Merlin mentions, if you take up a bit of the lane, it forces drivers to change lanes and possibly even slow down to pass you. That strikes me as the practicable thing in a lot of cases. So many drivers pass way too close and too quickly. I've definitely almost been clipped before in traffic. How do you feel about bikes in the road? Should they behave like cars, or do cars take precedence?
Commenter Charlotte brought up a good point about bike lanes:
It is also rather irritating when there are cycle paths to use they tend not to bother.
I agree! If there are bike lanes, we should be using them. The only exception I can think of is in areas where you know the bike lane is going to end abruptly. There are a few places in Atlanta where this happens, and cyclists familiar with those routes often get out of the bike lane early to avoid swerving into traffic further up the block.
I also ran across some excellent cycling advice over on Planet Green about visibility. This is especially applicable now that it's getting dark earlier. It's better to err on the side of too many lights and reflectors when it comes to riding after dark.
Let's keep the conversation going! Share your tips, stories, and thoughts on how bikes and cars can share the road with less strife in the comments.
Image Credit: Creative Commons photo by Bike Portland