Keep on Rolling: Washington’s Rolling Stop Law

Washington state implemented a Bicycle Rolling Stop Law, officially known as RCW 46.61.190, in an effort to promote bicycle safety and enhance the efficiency of urban traffic flow. Enacted on July 28, 2019, the law allows bicyclists to treat stop signs as yield signs and proceed through intersections without coming to a complete stop under certain conditions. The law was designed to mirror the Idaho Stop Law, which has been in effect in Idaho since 1982.

Bicycle Rolling Stop Law in Washington State

According to RCW 46.61.190, when a bicyclist approaches a stop sign or a flashing red signal, they must slow down, look for approaching traffic, and yield the right-of-way to other vehicles or pedestrians in or approaching the intersection. If the intersection is clear and safe, the cyclist can proceed through the intersection without stopping completely. This allows cyclists to maintain their momentum and reduces the time spent at stop signs, which is particularly beneficial in busy urban areas.

It is important to note that the Bicycle Rolling Stop Law is not a blanket exemption from stopping for cyclists. Cyclists are still required to obey other traffic laws including yielding to pedestrians at crosswalks and stopping for red lights.

The implementation of the Bicycle Rolling Stop Law has sparked discussions and debates among cyclists, drivers, and pedestrians. Supporters (including me) argue that it promotes the safety of cyclists by reducing the risk of collisions caused by sudden stops at intersections. On the other hand, opponents are concerned that relaxing stop sign rules for cyclists might lead to confusion and increase the likelihood of accidents, especially at busy intersections. In my experience, I have not seen an increase in cyclists getting hit while rolling through a stop sign.

Overall, the Washington state Bicycle Rolling Stop Law is an attempt to strike a balance between the safety and convenience of cyclists while ensuring that they continue to follow traffic regulations and respect the rights of pedestrians and other road users. So let’s celebrate our State getting on board with the reality of cycling and keep on rolling!

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