The 'Idaho Stop' may soon become the 'California Roll'

The "Idaho Stop" may soon become the "California Roll."

The current Idaho state law allowing cyclists to treat a stop sign as a yield sign is not legal in the Golden State, but two CA assembly members are trying to change that.

The legislation is bipartisan and jointly authored by Assemblyman Jay Obernolte (R-Big Bear Lake) and Phil Ting (D-San Francisco).

Along the "Wiggle", a one-mile flat zig-zagging bike route between Market Street and Golden Gate Park, cyclists often breeze through the stop signs at the intersection of Waller and Steiner Streets.  It's been a source of contention for drivers, who claim cyclists should obey the laws of the road just like they do.

But Dave Snyder, of the CA Bicycle Coalition disagrees. "We're definitely not trying to make a statement and get on your nerves," he said. "The California roll will actually make it safer for cyclists and everyone. Whenever there's a motorist or pedestrian in the intersection or approaching the intersection the law that applies now will still apply, you still have to stop."

"We thought it's a common sense solution to how people bike in reality," said Assmb. Phil Ting. "All it says is that bikers can roll through stop signs but they have to yield to cars and that's obviously, no biker's going try to take a car on because they know that they would lose."

Ting says studies have shown that stopping and starting unnecessarily can be dangerous for cyclists. Lost momentum translates into more time spent at intersections which means a greater likelihood of getting in a crash.

"I think the Idaho stop is great," said Michael Penza, who runs Wiggle Bicycles, a bike shop nearby. Penza believes the bike law in Idaho would work well for cyclists and drivers alike in California.

"In a city like this you get into a lot of awkward interactions with cars, they're like are you going? Are you stopping? Am I stopping?"

Some drivers agree. "If nobody's coming, why should people have to stop?" said Rebecca Damis, who lives at the intersection at Waller and Steiner. Damis says she's ok with the "California roll" as long as cyclists don't barrel through stop signs or lights while cars are present, abusing the law.
"They should have mutual respect for the drivers too because you don't want to have to almost hit someone."

Ting's bill or AB 1103 will be in print for 30 days before being referred to committee.