MANITOU SPRINGS — There are new traffic stop rules for bicyclists in Manitou Springs. What some know as Idaho Stops for cyclists are officially Safety Stop rules in Manitou Springs. The reference to Idaho stops is because similar laws were passed in the state of Idaho nearly 30 years ago.
"I ride my bike a lot for recreation and transportation,” said Manitou Springs cyclist, Cory Sutela, “I have been pulled over twice for going through a red light on my bicycle." Sutela is also part of the group PaCMan (Ped and Cycle Manitou Springs). The group of volunteers works to promote alternative transportation options in Manitou Springs. They lobbied city leaders for the Safety Stop changes.
With Safety Stop rules, cyclists can treat a stop light like a stop sign and stop signs like a yield. "We do expect you to slow down, go through the intersection at a reasonable speed,” said Manitou Springs Mayor, John Graham. Cyclists can only proceed if intersections are clear. Other vehicles and pedestrians cannot be ignored.
Sutela knows drivers criticize cyclists for slowing, but not stopping and then going through stop signs. He said there are exceptions, but the reasoning by most serious cyclists supports the idea of Safety Stop rules. He said cyclists are maintaining momentum, which is safer than stopping and trying to get going with pedal power in front of often impatient drivers. "You start going, maybe you're moving back and forth a little, but as you get going things are a bit unsteady, everyone's still really close together,” said Sutela, “Studies have shown accidents are much more prevalent in intersections." Data from studies was an important part of discussion as city leaders debated the new rules. "Delaware, they reported like a 23% decrease in bicycle car accidents,” said Mayor Graham. There is also evidence showing that cyclists clearing intersections more quickly can help avoid traffic congestion.
Manitou Springs City Council gave their approval after nearly six months of consideratoin. The new rules were immediately enacted.