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The new meaning of “Stop” to Arkansas bikers

Imagine you’re biking on a hilly road in Arkansas.

As you start to coast down a particularly steep incline, you spot a stop sign perched at the bottom of the ascent, marking an intersection. You can clearly see there are no drivers approaching from any direction, but as your speed increases, you feel your lawful conscience telling you to stop – it’s a stop sign, after all.

So, do you have to stop?

According to Arkansas’s new biking law, the answer is actually NO.

The state’s governor, Asa Hutchinson, signed Act 650 into law in April, and it went into effect on July 1. Arkansas is the second state to pass this type of law. Idaho has had similar legislation in place for 35 years, even nicknaming it “the Idaho Stop.” The law states that bicyclists can now treat stop signs like yields and red lights as stop signs.

In other words, if you ever find yourself in the aforementioned scenario, slow down and carefully check for cars approaching in any direction, and if none are present, you can ride through the intersection without stopping. Similarly, bicyclists can make a complete stop at a red traffic control intersection, yield to any oncoming traffic, and then proceed through the light with caution.

It may feel wrong, but officials say it’s for the best.

As reported by the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, the chairman of the Governor’s Advisory Council on Cycling, Joe Jacobs, insists that the law allows bikers to maintain a steady momentum, encourage bicyclists to ride more on roads, and counteract poor cycling infrastructure.

Take this example: when a bicyclist is riding on a road, and comes to a stoplight, the infrastructure is designed to detect cars. At certain intersections, the light won’t turn green until a car trips the sensor. So, for the bicycists in this scenario—the light will never turn green! BikeWalk NC explains other infrastructure hurtles bicyclists have to face on a regular basis.

However, thanks to the new law, Arkansas cyclists now can legally avoid absurd wait times at these afflicted intersections – AND all of its other benefits, like clearing congestion on the streets.

Bikers can find similar laws in different states, but they vary depending on the location. To make sure you’re familiar with your state’s road laws, check out the League of American Bicyclists’ comprehensive list for each state.

Florida does not currently support any “Idaho stop” laws. But… do you think our streets could see them in the near future?

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