'Stop' means 'Yield'?

June 05, 2003 12:00 am

When could "Stop" mean "Yield?"

When you are on a bicycle.

This is the proposal of Rep. Floyd Prozanski, a Eugene Democrat and sponsor of House Bill 2768.

The bill would require bicyclists to slow down at stop signs and yield to pedestrians or cars with the right-of-way, but allow cyclists to continue through such intersections without stopping if no traffic is present. As a possible counterbalance to relaxing the rules for cyclists, the bill quadruples fines for unsafely entering an intersection or failing to yield from $75 to $300.

What Prozanski's bill doesn't address, however, is the more fundamental problem with bicycles on the roadway.

Under Oregon law, bicyclists have the same rights and responsibilities as automobiles and their drivers, with few exceptions.

However, a significant segment of the cycling population has never driven a car. That's because they are under 16.

Bicycles afford children independence and mobility. But we as parents, lawmakers and educators fail to prepare them to follow the rules of the road.

You must be 16 and pass a test to drive a car. A bicycle license will cost you $5 at City Hall, and says nothing of your ability to safely pilot a bicycle. The license only aids in the recovery of stolen property.

Adults and children alike should remember:

o The safest way to cross the street is by dismounting and walking the bike in a crosswalk. Or, bicyclists riding in a traffic lane can signal and turn, just like a car. But bicycles can't ride through crosswalks without stopping as if they were pedestrians with wheels.

o When riding in a travel lane, bicyclists need to follow the same direction of travel as automobiles. Joggers often run into traffic, for safety reasons. But bicyclists need to share the road with cars, keeping as far to the right of the travel lane as is safe.

o If riding after dark, you need a rear red reflector or flashing red light, and a forward facing white light visible for 100 feet. Cyclists without a forward facing light are invisible at intersections, whether they heed the stop sign or not.

o One word — helmet — has been shown to help prevent another single syllable state of being for cyclists — dead.

Yes, Prozanski's bill would make commuting by bike easier for Oregon's responsible cyclists.

The more pressing problem with including bicycles in our transportation system will still revolve around making sure cyclists follow the rules of road.