Idaho stop and dead red for Oklahoma cyclists?

Oklahoma State Representative Lewis Moore (R-Edmond) and State Senator David Holt (R-OKC) authored and introduced HB 2999 on February 1, 2016, to allow cyclists in Oklahoma to treat stop signs as yields, and to treat red traffic signals as stop signs.

Electric Avenue

The “stop sign as yield” proposal is often called the “Idaho stop” because a similar law was pioneered in that state in 1982. “Dead red” is the common name for laws allowing people on motorcycles and bicycles to run red lights when a traffic signal does not detect their presence. This is different from the law allowing motorists to treat “defective” traffic signals as all-way stops; these only apply when the lights themselves fail to work for the entire intersection.

Oklahoma HB 2999 passed the House Public Safety Committee on February 16. Oklahoma already has a dead red law for motorcycle riders.

Several states have a dead red law on the books, but only Idaho has stop-as-yield. If passed, Oklahoma becomes the second state in the United States to allow cyclists to treat stop as yield. The text of the new law would read:

A. A person operating a bicycle approaching a stop sign shall slow down and, if required for safety, stop before entering the intersection. After slowing to a reasonable speed or stopping, the person shall yield the right-of-way to any vehicle in the intersection or approaching on another highway so closely as to constitute an immediate hazard during the time the person is moving across or within the intersection or junction of highways, except that a person after slowing to a reasonable speed and yielding the right-of-way if required may cautiously make a turn or proceed through the intersection without stopping.

B. A person operating a bicycle approaching a steady red traffic control light shall stop before entering the intersection and shall yield to all other traffic. Once the person has stopped, the person may proceed through the steady red traffic control light with caution. Provided, however, that a person after slowing to a reasonable speed and yielding the right-of-way if required, may cautiously make a right-hand turn. A left-hand turn onto a one-way highway may be made on a red light after stopping and yielding to other traffic.

I like that this law doesn’t have a minimum time requirement for the red light like some states do. If I take the same route every day, I already know the light won’t trigger for me, and I don’t need to wait to figure that out.

Via Paul and Oklahoma Bicycling Coalition. Follow the progress of this bill at


  • eroseboom
    February 29, 2016 - 5:49 pm | Permalink

    What is the law for California regarding the dead red?

  • February 29, 2016 - 5:57 pm | Permalink

    California has no dead red law for either bicyclists or motorcycle riders. We have the standard “treat defective light as an all-way stop” law that many Internet lawyers claim allows cyclists to legally run red lights, but courts seem to generally decide against cyclists when we’re cited for running reds.

    We do have AB 1581 in California, which says any new traffic light must detect bicycles and provide enough time for cyclists to cross the intersection. This doesn’t help us with the majority of old traffic lights, of course. Also, some southern California jurisdictions flatly and openly refuse to obey this law. It would be up to private citizens or maybe the state Attorney General’s office to file suit to force compliance.

    I am not a lawyer, and this is not legal advice.

  • MikeOnBike
    February 29, 2016 - 6:43 pm | Permalink

    In theory, 21800(d)(1) should cover a defective sensor, depending on the legal meaning of “inoperative”.

    I suppose another option is to call 911 and ask for a traffic officer to wave you through.

  • February 29, 2016 - 7:40 pm | Permalink

    Opinions seem to differ between departments. Mountain View Police are on record saying they will cite cyclists treating a red light as a stop.

  • February 29, 2016 - 8:35 pm | Permalink

    Washington’s dead red requires waiting through a cycle. It stinks and is also confusing for cyclists and drivers.

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  • March 1, 2016 - 10:35 am | Permalink

    I agree with you about the rule that says you must wait for a complete cycle. If you’re the only person around, how are you supposed to know how long the cycle is? If you already know the detector is broken, why the wait requirement?

  • March 1, 2016 - 11:48 am | Permalink

    Idaho, and now Oklahoma. Interesting that these are states that one does not immediately associate as being “bike friendly.” Yet Oregon, Washington, Colorado and California have no such laws.

  • Pete
    March 1, 2016 - 5:02 pm | Permalink

    I take a left on Miller from Cox in San Jose on my returns from Mt. Eden and points south/west. It does not have a bicycle sensor. I’ve written to San Jose on numerous occasions making mention of this, but my only options are 1) run the left red when the oncoming two lanes are clear, or 2) use the walk button to cross into oncoming traffic on the left side of the street, then cross again. In my experience, running a red light into traffic lanes you can see is *much* safer than relying upon motorists to stop and yield while turning right on red lights.

  • Doug
    March 1, 2016 - 5:14 pm | Permalink

    Colorado does not have this law state-wide, but several small cities (and one entire county) have adopted the Idaho Stop. Baby steps.

  • March 1, 2016 - 8:16 pm | Permalink

    Doug, it is also my understand that Colorado is the only state that allows for local (city/county) laws in such a fashion. i.e. all other states require the law to be adopted state-wide.

  • March 1, 2016 - 9:59 pm | Permalink

    @Ross: has a good resource showing differences in state law around the United States, including a map showing which states have a uniformity requirement (click on the “statewide uniformity” tab). I’ll try to paste the map here, too. Green shows statewide uniformity, red shows local regulation is allowed. According to this map, 17 states require statewide uniformity. All others allow some degree of local regulation.

    statewide uniformity of vehicle code

  • MikeOnBike
    March 1, 2016 - 10:01 pm | Permalink

    Here’s a map that shows which states have statewide uniformity vs. local regulation. For cyclists, local regulation is generally a bad thing.

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