Wikipedia says I coined “Idaho Stop”

San Jose Bike Party Summer of Love Ride August 2016

When I attended the Silicon Valley Bicycle Summit the other week, I met local cycling legend Ray Hosler. He and I both were interested in what California Bicycle Coalition Director David Snyder said when somebody asked why CalBike doesn’t support an “Idaho Stop” law for California. You can read what Snyder had to say in Ray’s post on the topic here, where I also learned that I apparently coined the term “Idaho Stop” in 2008.

According to Wikipedia:

The term “Idaho Stop” came into use as a result of the California effort in 2008. Prior to that it was called “Idaho Style” or “Roll-and-go.” “Idaho Stop” was first used by the bicycle blogger Richard Masoner in June 2008 coverage of the San Francisco proposal, but in reference to the “Idaho Stop Law.” In August of the same year, the term – now in quotes – first showed up in print in a Christian Science Monitor article by Ben Arnoldy who referred to the “so-called ‘Idaho stop’ rule.”[10] Soon after the term “Idaho stop” was commonly being used as a noun, not a modifier.

This block was added by Wikipedia contributor “Volcycle” on March 3, 2016.

I dug a little further, and found a mention by Jim Stallman in May 2007. Jim is a long-time cyclist advocate who lives in Saratoga, California. In a discussion about all of the stop signs along various cycling routes across the city of Cupertino, Stallman wrote:

Stelling should have had its stop signs removed 15 years ago when the freeway opened but this never happened. Maybe California will adopt the Idaho Stop Law sometime in our lifetimes. CBC hasn’t supported it, though.

I guess I participated in helping to popularize the term, but I had heard it from Stallman and probably others before 2008. Somebody who understands Wikipedia’s citation rules better than me can make the correction to the article, if you want.

Idaho Stop? What’s that?

The Idaho Stop rule is a popular name for Idaho’s law, which (in a nutshell) says cyclists may treat red lights as stop signs, and stop signs as yield signs.

H/T to my colleague Naoto, who pointed out Ray’s mention of me.


  1. So the guy who originally got the law passed in Idaho was named “Bianchi”? How cool is that??

  2. Regarding “Idaho Stop” law for California. LCIs and CSIs teach that the law requires a full stop and a yield as appropriate to other traffic. We also teach that it’s not the Stop that keeps you safe, but the looking and yielding. Most LEOs know this too; failing to yield is discourteous, dangerous, and likely to result in a citation.
    When asked if as a bicyclist I always come to a full stop, I truthfully reply that I do the same on my bicycles as I do in my motor vehicles. That usually gets a laugh. Many of us were performing the “California Stop” before the “Idaho Stop” was invented/coined.

  3. While I’m not a fan of Idaho Stops at traffic signals, I can’t see any reason why they should not be allowed for motorized as well as non-motorized (mostly bikes) traffic. It is consistent with how motorists operate at stop signs anyway. Recently, I watched an intersection and not a single motorist made a full stop in over an hour. In any case, Jim Baross is entirely correct that it is the looking and yielding that keeps motorists safe, just as it does cyclists. What frosts me is that many cyclists do not even look or break cadence at stop signs. At least most motorists make a brake application and LOOK before proceeding. Motor vehicles represent a far greater danger to others than bikes, but stop signs are not where they usually kill people, at least not if they make a California/Idaho stop.

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