Stop signs are terrific media for environmental campaigns; they are also effective for calming traffic, which is why where I live, in Toronto, they all turned to all-way stops from two way stops. I wrote in It’s Time To Rip Out The Stop Signs And Stop Blaming Cyclists that “It is ridiculous to complain about bikes going through stop signs when the system was designed to control cars.”
In Portland, bike consultant Mia Birk of Alta Planning and Design, is saying much the same thing. She writes in the Portland Tribune:
A bicycle is not a motor vehicle. To expect bicycle riders to behave exactly like motorists is like expecting kayakers to follow the same rules as motor boaters. Ultimately, we need to tailor a set of laws that is based on cycling as its own form of transportation, rather than today’s the-bicycle-is-mostly-the-same-as-a-motor vehicle line of thinking…..
Don’t get me wrong, I am not advocating for throwing out the rule book. When we bike, we should stop and remain stopped for all traffic signals. And when we drive, we should slow down, hang up, yield to cyclists and pedestrians, and chill out. In other words, we can all behave better.
In follow-up correspondence, a Portland Police Bureau official asked me, “Wouldn’t it be nice if residents didn’t pick and choose which laws they follow?”
Yes, but it would be even nicer if the laws that we are asking people to follow make sense.