San Francisco could become the largest city in the U.S. to pass an ordinance that allows bicyclists to roll through stop signs, if the coast is clear. That’s a controversial proposal being considered by leaders in a city that is the second most densely populated behind New York City.
The ordinance, if passed by the Board of Supervisors, would also present a significant wrinkle in San Francisco’s plan to reduce the number of fatal traffic-related accidents. The number of bicyclists killed in the city increased last year, even though traffic-related deaths were down overall, according to the Vision Zero Coalition, an national initiative to reduce injuries and deaths on city streets.
Cyclist groups in San Francisco overwhelmingly support the change in the bike law, which currently requires all bikers to halt at red lights and stop signs, according to the New York Times. Ahead of the proposed change, city law enforcement made good on a threat to crack down on cyclists who failed to stop at signs. Police issued 204 citations over two days in August, the Times reported.
In response, 100 cyclists showed up to a community meeting and officials agreed to suspend the crackdown. But supporters of the yield-to-stop signs law face another hurdle – the city’s mayor. Edwin Lee recently told the San Francisco Chronicle that he would veto the ordinance if the City Council adopted it. “I’m not willing to trade away safety for convenience,” Lee said.
City supervisors could override Lee’s veto, the Times reported. San Francisco would then join cities in Idaho and Colorado that already permit yield-to-stop signs.
“It feels like the Wild West because there are so many people in the city right now,” said Morgan Fitzgibbons, a San Francisco community activist who organized a bicyclist protest in support of the bike law. “People say, ‘You are so entitled,’” she said. “But if anyone is entitled, it is the drivers.”