2 BICYCLING FYI’S: Trail work Friday; ‘safety stop’ law now in effect

Two FYI’s primarily affecting bicycle riders, but of potential interest to all:

TRAIL WORK ON FRIDAY: Just received from SDOT:

Tomorrow, SDOT will be performing maintenance on the Alki Trail near the Chelan Café. Crews will be trimming trees and other vegetation that is encroaching the trail. Work will begin in the early morning and continue throughout the afternoon.

There will be minor impacts for people biking, walking, and rolling on the trail. Crews will need space on the trail to work, so the trail will be narrowed temporarily, which will slow the movement of pedestrians and bike traffic just west of the Chelan Café for about half a mile. There may also be a short, outside lane closure on SW Spokane St between Delridge Way and Harbor Ave SW to complete all the trimming.

SAFETY STOP: Thanks to the readers who emailed to suggest we note this – the new Safety Stop” state law (sponsored by West Seattle-residing State Rep. Joe Fitzgibbon) is in effect as of today.

As explained by SDOT, “The Safety Stop allows people biking to legally treat stop signs as yield signs when no other traffic is approaching and when they have slowed to a reasonable speed. Washington will be the fifth state to legalize these stops, joining Idaho, Delaware, Arkansas, and Oregon.” This covers e-bikes as well as non-electric bikes, but does NOT change the rules for scooters. SDOT’s explanation also notes:

For everyone’s safety, people biking must still fully stop at:

Stoplights, including stoplights in bike lanes
Stop signs on school buses
Stop signs at railroad crossings

The Safety Stop is supposed to reduce collisions, injuries, and driver confusion about right-of-way.

8 Replies to "2 BICYCLING FYI'S: Trail work Friday; 'safety stop' law now in effect"

  • D October 1, 2020 (7:22 pm)

    This…. makes sense if I’m interpreting it correctly.Bikes treat stop signs as they have to yield to other traffic already part of the particular stop sign setup? So, if they come to a stop sign, no other traffic at all, they have the option to keep on biking. If there is a vehicle present, then the stop sign has to be treated as a stop sign?Sounds reasonable and keeps bikes moving. Just hope bikers keep their heads on a swivel.

    • Go gull October 1, 2020 (10:00 pm)

      That’s my understanding too, except also, cyclists do have to slow down some approaching the intersection, and if no other vehicles are at the stop and its safe to roll through, then they can without stopping.

      It totally makes sense, anyone with regular bike commuting experience will understand.

      Drivers may not get it, but it actually benefits them too… it makes the traffic flow more efficiently if bikes can ease through the intersection more quickly, and cars don’t have to wait for cyclists to get through the intersection without momentum.

      Cyclists miss things and make mistakes too, but generally are more present and aware of their surroundings, because they are more exposed, out in the elements, and you have to be. 

      This should be an easy change, and honestly, more confident cyclists probably already do this.

      I’m for it 👍

      • Foop October 1, 2020 (11:28 pm)

        Yup. Cyclists move slower than cars, they have time to assess the intersection longer than drivers do, they also have fewer things obstructing their vision, cars natural have structures that cause blind spots.Also a bike not stopping gets in and out of an intersection in about half the time it takes if they have to stop.

  • Chemist October 2, 2020 (12:42 am)

    I worry about when this law will be taken advantage of, like a bicyclist and a car both approaching the intersection at roughly the same time and the bicyclist presumes the car is going to stop at the stop sign and, instead of yielding, just decides to blow through at full speed and take the right of way they don’t necessarily have.  It sometimes happens that bicyclists do this now, but this law seems like it makes it worse by not defining what the safe approach speed is for the biker.  I once nearly hit a bicyclist who thought they didn’t need to stop at a 4 way intersection….

    • skeeter October 2, 2020 (11:56 am)

      @Chemist – I’m not saying what you are describing does not happen.  It probably does happen both before and after this new law.  The scenario you described does not change as a result of the new law.  If a bicyclist and car are both approaching a stop sign, then both will be required to come to a full stop.  The new law does not change that.  What the new law changes is if a bicyclist approaches a stop sign and there are no other cars, bikes, or pedestrians.  In that case, the cyclist can simply slow down, look both directions, and proceed without coming to a stop.  That saves the cyclist some energy and gets the cyclist through the intersection faster and safer.  

      • alki_2008 October 2, 2020 (12:20 pm)

        What you describe is what the letter-of-the-law prescribes. But in reality, there are going to be people out there hearing there’s a “new law that bikes don’t have to stop at stop signs” and that is going to be dangerous in situations like Chemist described. Let’s face it, most people only read headlines, they don’t read details. In some ways, I wish this new law wasn’t publicized specifically for that reason.

  • anonyme October 2, 2020 (8:09 am)

    Some time ago I was struck and seriously injured by a cyclist who sped through a red light and struck me in a crosswalk.  On the face of it, this new law sounds reasonable.  However, a law is only as effective as the humans who translate it.  Forgive me if I’m skeptical, but given the general scofflaw attitude of so many Seattleites, I think that things just got even more dangerous for pedestrians – who seem to have been left out of this equation.

    • KBear October 2, 2020 (1:44 pm)

      This is another scenario that does not change as a result of the new law. Cyclists are still required to stop at red lights.

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