Apr 13 2022 Gov Polis Signs Colorado Safety Stop Into Law

The safety stop is now law statewide in Colorado

First passed locally in Manitou Springs in 2021, the safety stop, or Idaho stop, is now law throughout the state of Colorado.

Bicyclists in Colorado now have a safe and legal option for navigating through intersections after Governor Jared Polis signed Colorado House Bill 22-1028 into law on Wednesday, April 13, 2022. The new law, which allows bicyclists and users of “low speed conveyances” to treat stop signs as yield signs and stop lights as stop signs when they already have the right of way, goes into effect immediately statewide.

When other road users are present the traffic control device must be treated as normal.

“I want to thank everybody for their work on this bill. Biking is not only a healthy, safe way to get places, it helps reduce traffic on our roads and reduce pollution,” said Governor Polis at the bill signing ceremony at the Capitol on Wednesday. “We’re here to celebrate a bill that allows bicyclists, pedestrians, scooters, [and] skateboarders … to make Safety Stops at intersections, putting into law what is already the safest thing to do.”

“This is an important moment for people who choose to and need to ride bikes for transportation across Colorado,” says Jack Todd, Director of Communications and Policy at Bicycle Colorado, the 501(c)(3) nonprofit advocacy organization that championed the bill alongside bill sponsors. “Other states that have adopted similar transportation policies like Idaho and Delaware have shown that this reduces crashes between people biking and people driving, and we’re thrilled to see the Colorado Safety Stop become the law of the land.”

The Colorado Safety Stop was sponsored in the Colorado legislature by Representatives Matt Gray (D-33) and Edie Hooton (D-10) and Senators Faith Winter (D-24) and Kevin Priola (R-25). It passed through both chambers of the Colorado legislature with bipartisan support, including final votes of 44-20 in the House of Representatives and 25-8 in the Senate.

What the new law means for Colorado bicyclists and users of low-speed conveyances
When an intersection is clear and they already have the right of way, bicyclists ages 15 and older may now treat stop signs as yield signs and treat stop lights as stop signs.

Additional details of the law include:

  • Younger bicyclists may perform the maneuver if an adult is present.
  • Bicyclists can yield and then proceed through stop sign-controlled intersections at up to 10 miles per hour.
  • Intersections where bicyclist-specific lights or signs are present that prohibit the maneuver are exempt from the new law.
  • The bill defines “low speed conveyances” in Colorado law. These are small profile, low-speed vehicles that people use for transportation and recreation, including bicycles and electric bicycles, electric scooters (not including mopeds), and wheelchairs.

“Intersections are by far the most dangerous locations for bicyclists, in Colorado and elsewhere. When people on bikes are able to get out of the intersection and away from that conflict zone before a potential crash can even occur, their safety improves,” says Piep van Heuven, Bicycle Colorado’s Director of Government Relations. “This new law is a statement that bicycles and similar transportation tools are different from cars, and should be treated differently in Colorado law. We’re grateful to the bill sponsors, Representatives Gray and Hooton and Senators Winter and Priola, for their work on this bill, and to Governor Polis for signing it into law.”

Groups throughout the state, especially Bicycle Colorado, advocated for this to become law as a data supported way to reduce injuries and fatalities on Colorado roadways. As 303 Cycling puts it “This Safety Stop bill will unify bike laws across Colorado, and make the roads safer for people of color at the same time.” as they recount testimony at the capital from Marcus Robinson one of the founders of the Denver non-profit Ride for Racial Justice.

After I gave my own testimony about statistics, safety, and legal issues, I was moved by the testimony from fellow cyclists.  In particular, I recall Marcus Robinson’s testimony who explained that he, as a black man riding an expensive road bicycle, was emotionally devasted after he was pulled over by the police who claimed he failed to come to a complete stop at a stop sign and the police accused him of stealing the bicycle that he was riding.  Marcus explained that no minority should be targeted by law enforcement, and he advocated for equality in cycling.

Colorado, which previously allowed local communities to adopt this ordinance on an opt-in basis ( Manitou Springs adopted this in Oct 2021), the safety stop, or Idaho stop, is now law through out the state of Colorado., now joins eight other states in adopting similar transportation policy statewide, including Idaho (1982), Delaware (2017; reaffirmed in 2021); Arkansas, Oregon (both 2019), Washington State (2020), North Dakota, Utah, and Oklahoma (all 2021).

For more information on the Colorado Safety Stop and additional rules of the road for bicyclists and drivers, visit https://www.bicyclecolorado.org/ride-colorado/rules-of-the-road/

Leave a Reply