Should Calgary traffic laws be different for cyclists and drivers?

Calgary city councillors are debating traffic laws, deciding whether they want to ask the province to allow cyclists to treat stop signs as yield signs.

The proposal would ask the province to make rolling stops at stop signs legal for cyclists. The stops are dubbed Idaho stops, named for the law that originated in that U.S. state.

In Calgary (and Alberta), Idaho stops are illegal. All cyclists must come to a complete stop at stop signs.

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According to Bike Calgary, implementing Idaho stops will allow cyclists to integrate more smoothly with traffic, increase accessibility and make it safer for all road users.

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“This isn’t a change in who has the right of way. It’s still making sure you yield the appropriate right of way but if you do have right of way, you can proceed without having to come to a complete stop, put your foot down, get back on the bike, and spend that energy starting up again,” president Gary Millard said Wednesday.

Ward 7 Coun. Druh Farrell said it’s a constant balancing act to fine-tune the city’s bike policy.

“We’re talking about making cycling easier without it making it unsafe for both the person on the bike and other Calgarians,” Farrell said.

Ward 4 Coun. Sean Chu disagrees with the safety aspect. He believes loosening the laws is a slippery slope and that all road users should follow the same rules.

“You have to stop at stop signs if you’re driving to save lives. But cyclists are different?” Chu asked. “They’ll save lives without stopping? That doesn’t make sense.”

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The proposal will go to city council for debate in June.

The City of Calgary can’t change any traffic laws. The move would simply allow councillors to ask the provincial government to make those changes in Alberta’s Traffic Safety Act.