On April 13, 2022, Governor Polis signed the “Safety Stop” bill into law in Colorado. This law now permits bicyclists to treat stop signs like yield signs and red lights like stop signs. These safety stops, also referred to as rolling stops and Idaho stops, have become a source of controversy among Colorado citizens. Here’s what you need to know about the new law.
What Is the Colorado Safety Stop Law?
House Bill 22-1028, otherwise known as The Colorado Safety Stop Law, amends Section 42-4-1412.5 of the Colorado Revised Statutes to change the statewide regulation of controlled intersections. This new law declares that anyone who is over the age of 15 (or accompanied by an adult) and who is operating a “low-speed conveyance” can now proceed as follows:
- At a stop sign, the person may proceed without stopping if it is safe to do so, if they have slowed to a reasonable speed of 15 miles per hour or less, and if they have yielded the right-of-way to anyone approaching the intersection.
- At an illuminated red light, the person must stop and yield to all other traffic and pedestrians. Then, when it is safe to do so, the person may proceed despite the red light – treating it like a stop sign.
A low-speed conveyance can refer to a bicycle, electrical assisted bicycle, scooter, skateboard or wheelchair. There are exceptions to the Safety Stop Law if a county or municipality marks a particular intersection with signs that require the individual to slow to 10 miles per hour or 20 miles per hour instead of 15.
Arguments For and Against the Safety Stop Law
Overall, bicyclists have been supportive of The Colorado Safety Stop Law, while most of those against it were motor vehicle drivers or law enforcement officers. One of the main supporters of the bill was Bicycle Colorado. This organization stated that HB 1028 was a sensible policy that would make bicycling safer. Bicycle Colorado advocated that the law would reduce intersection accidents by allowing cyclists to get out of the intersection and away from danger sooner.
In its arguments for the law, Bicycle Colorado mentioned other states that recently adopted similar laws – including Utah, Oklahoma and Oregon – found that the safety stop reduced collisions between bicyclists and motorists in intersections. In addition, proponents of the law pointed out that the passing of HB 1028 would unify bicycle laws throughout the state, as the safety stop was already allowed in multiple municipalities, including Thornton and Englewood. This would make it easier for bicyclists to know the laws where they are riding.
Those against the bill included Colorado Springs Police Commander Jeff Strossner, who cited a statistic where bicyclists were at fault for 43 percent of intersection accidents in Colorado Springs over the last five years. He stated that it would be more difficult to determine who is at fault in bicycle-vehicle collisions if the bill were to pass.
How Might the Safety Stop Law Impact Bicycle Accident Claims?
Although The Colorado Safety Stop Law has not yet been in place long enough to determine how it will impact motor vehicle accident claims, there will be a definite change in how liability is determined for crashes involving bicyclists at intersections.
Now that bicycles and other low-conveyance vehicles do not have to stop at stop signs or wait for green lights to proceed into intersections, it will most likely be more difficult to determine whether the cyclist is at fault. It will be up to investigators to decide if the cyclist did or did not have the right-of-way to proceed into the intersection based on the circumstances and the new stipulations of Colorado’s Safety Stop Law.