Sunday, February 8, 2009

On Stopping at Stop Signs

(the followup post I promised)

As was pointed out to me, we are all adults, and hope that adults make wise adult decisions. Rolling a stop usually doesn't cause a problem, if one is riding with one or two other friends, and isn't riding through North Plains.

However, on group rides of upwards of a dozen riders, all trying to hold a pace together, interactions between cyclists and other road users become a bit more complex. The reason there are so many traffic laws, is so that all road users can arrive safely at their destination in relative peace and tranquility. In other words, there are customs/laws that provide all road users with consistent expectations of what the other road users are going to do, and proceed accordingly.

So, why stop at every stop sign?

Basic Points
It IS the law. Same roads, same rights, same rules.
Most unfavorable interactions between road users happen at intersections; that's why there are rules.
Group riding calls for more attention and riding skill/manners/convention/practices than riding with a couple of friends. Hence, consistent behavior is a Best Practice.
Rolling through stops is not modeling best practice, either to other riders, or to non-riding observers, like all those little kids we were waving to on the ride.
Rolling through stops also may cause further-back riders to not even realize there is a stop, leading to the possibility of a really bad thing happening. (Calling "clear" is another example of this. I never call "clear". Think lemmings.)

Mental Load (Cognitive Burden) points (yeah, you know what I do for a living)
By choosing to roll stops, the rider is incurring an additional cognitive burden - they've got to look, consider if it is clear, all while moving. You can't always tell if there is clear line of sight, until right at the stop sign.
Sometimes the stops (including the one I was rear-ended at) are not 4-way. So, you can't count on other road users stopping; they don't have to. By stopping at every single stop, there is no additional cognitive burden.
You can't screw up. And I can tell you that making this behavior automatic
can save your life when you least expect it. So, in my case, those long
rides in the middle of the night are less dangerous, because I'm not going
to absent-mindedly roll through a stop.

Additional Points
When a crash happens between a car and a bicycle, there is insurance that comes into play. When a crash happens where no car is involved, there is no insurance. It is all out of pocket.
Many fellow cyclists have lost their jobs, and possibly their health insurance. We can't afford to drop extra money on our nice toys or preventable injuries.
Cycling is one of the few low-cost activities we can continue to enjoy.


beth h said...

You missed a point:

Dear Urban Posuers: When stopping at a stop sign, please do NOT sit there and attempt a track-stand! Put your freakin' foot down! It's how the folks behind you know that you have actually stopped and are no longer moving.

Thank you.

lynnef said...

I don't particularly worry about track-standers, because I stop every time. Which is the point. Riders should EXPECT and BE PREPARED for the rider in front of them to stop at a stop sign.

As in "don't go astray or lead others astray". (If you don't get the reference, I shall be disappointed)

Chuck B. said...

You're right on with all of your comments regarding stopping, Lynne. I nearly ran over a bicyclist a number of years ago because he blew a red light at a high rate of speed right in front of me. He almost ended up as a hood ornament. At the same time, he grabbed the brakes so hard he did a forward wheelie, and nearly crashed from that. I hope he was as scared as I was...

Chuck B. said...

PS I forgot to say that I was in a Ford Ranger pickup, and the bicyclist was crossing in front of me...