For Immediate Release: February 13, 2018
Ross Chambless, Communications Specialist
Utah House Democratic Caucus
(801) 326-1568 | firstname.lastname@example.org
House Committee Unanimously Passes "Utah Yield" Bicycle Bill
Salt Lake City - Today the House Transportation Committee voted unanimously to pass H.B. 58, “Traffic Control Signs for Bicycles” which would revise traffic control regulations related to bicycles. The bill would let bicyclists treat stop signs as yield signs and red traffic signals as stop signs. Under current law bicyclists can pass under a red light after waiting for 90 seconds. H.B. 58 would eliminate the waiting time. Rep. Carol Spackman Moss has coined this the “Utah Yield.”
Rep. Moss says this bill is needed because our traffic signals are designed only to accommodate cars. “All too often when bicyclists stop at a red light, they have to wait and wait because they’re not heavy enough to trigger the road sensors. Many people commute by bike to work, and they’ll just have to go through the light, and some have been cited for doing that. We want to encourage a bicycle-friendly road system that makes bicycling safer, faster, and easier will help to encourage more ridership.”
Studies from other states with “Stop as Yield” regulations have not shown any increased risk for car-bicycle accidents. One study from Idaho measured a 14 percent decrease in motor vehicle-bicycle crashes. And a 2013 comparative study of cities with and without this law found a decrease in crash severity in those cities with a “Stop As Yield Law.”
“This bill does not give people on bicycles any special rights. It just changes our road rules to reflect and accommodate how bicyclists and vehicle drivers actually behave on the road now,” says Rep. Moss.
H.B. 58 also works to encourage more people to use bicycling which will be increasingly necessary as our population grows. The bill helps to address Utah’s poor air quality. Roughly half of Utah’s poor air quality is attributed to motor vehicle emissions.
This bill also aims to help law enforcement focus on more pressing traffic hazards. In 2016, the most recent data available, the Department of Public Safety Highway Safety Office, found the most common vehicle accidents involve teenage drivers (45 percent), unrestrained occupant crashes (almost 9 percent), and speed related crashes (almost 6 percent).
“Bicyclists are not creating significant risks for traffic hazards,” says Rep. Moss. “Courts will no longer have these minor infractions taking up time within the judicial system with this legislation.”
Similar laws have been in place in Idaho since 1982. In 2017, Delaware became the second state to adopt this regulation.
The bill now goes to the House for further consideration.