Polis signs “Safety Stop” bill | VailDaily.com

Polis signs “Safety Stop” bill

Bill allows bicyclists to legally roll through stop signs and red lights after pausing

Gwen Inglis makes her way along a road during the women's time trial for the Colorado Classic cycling race on Aug. 17, 2018, in Vail. Inglis was struck and killed by a vehicle which swerved into a bike lane while training in May 2021.
Chris Dillmann/Vail Daily

Helping the environment, saving on gas money, feeling better about returning for that fourth slice of pizza — these are all significant benefits for bike riders in 2022.

As of Wednesday, you can add “roll through stop signs” to the list of perks.

Gov. Jared Polis signed the “Safety Stop” bill this week, allowing Colorado bicyclists to legally treat stop signs as yield signs and stop lights like stop signs when it is safe to do so. The bill, passed in the state legislature by a wide margin, was lobbied by Bicycle Colorado and applies to bikes, electric bikes and electrically assisted scooters.

“This bill is a critical step in keeping cyclists and other sustainable commuters safe during their rides,” said one of the bill’s sponsors, Rep. Matt Gray D-Broomfield, in a news release reported in The Denver Post.

“Adopting the safety stop will decriminalize common-sense behavior for bicyclists and create cohesion between the many communities who currently have different rules and regulations regarding safety stops which causes confusion and dangerous situations for bicyclists.”

Denver Post columnist John Meyer spoke with Jack Todd, the director of communications and policy for Bicycle Colorado, who said streets “won’t look drastically different in terms of the way bicyclists are using them.”

“Bicyclists are already to doing this as a matter of common sense. This just makes that legal,” Todd said. “We’ve been proponents of this statewide legislation for years, and we’re excited to finally get it across the finish line.”

Accidents involving bicycles have been escalating in Colorado over the last decade. The idea of the bill is to decrease the time bikes spend in intersections, where most crashes occur. CDOT data analysis showed that between 2017-19, 72.2% of crashes involving cars and bikes occurred at intersections, according to Todd.

“All the data out there points to this being safer and reducing crashes between bicyclists and motorists. As an advocacy organization, we are always thinking about how bicycling can be safer in Colorado, and this is a proven tool,” Todd told Meyer.

In 2018, 22 bicyclists were killed in crashes, up from 10 in 2009. In 2021, the death toll was 14, according to a survey of CDOT data.

After two cyclists in the Denver metro were killed in one weekend last September, Todd spoke to 9News.com about another statistical trend: Higher-profile vehicles, which have exploded in ownership across the state in the last decade, accounting for 86% of new vehicle registrations in 2021, are more likely to severely injure or kill pedestrians and cyclists.

“Cars are just getting bigger and bigger on the roads, and the bigger they get the more dangerous they get for people outside of them,” Todd told Steve Staeger last year.

The shoulder of major roadways presents another high risk area for bicyclists. Two of the eight crashes involving bicyclists in Eagle County last year happened while riders were traveling along a roadway with traffic, according to data available on CDOT. In May 2021, Gwen Inglis, a renowned Colorado cyclist with state and national titles to her name, was struck and killed by a 29-year-old driver who drifted into the bike lane at Alameda Parkway and Indiana Street in Lakewood.

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