The Coast News Group
Assemblywoman Tasha Boerner is bringing forth a stop-as-yield law for the third straight legislative session. The Coast News graphic
Assemblywoman Tasha Boerner is bringing forth a stop-as-yield law for the third straight legislative session. The Coast News graphic
CarlsbadCitiesDel MarEncinitasEncinitas FeaturedNewsOceansidePolitics & GovernmentSolana Beach

Boerner makes third attempt to pass cyclist ‘stop as yield’ law

REGION — Assemblymember Tasha Boerner (D-Encinitas) has reintroduced her Bicycle Safety Stop bill for the third consecutive legislative session to allow right-of-way bicyclists to yield at stop signs statewide.

Currently, California state law requires cyclists to be “subject to all laws applicable to drivers of motor vehicles, including stopping at stoplights and stop signs.”

Boerner’s legislation, Assembly Bill 73, was first introduced in 2021 (AB 122) to create a “common-sense policy” that makes cyclist behavior more predictable for drivers. The Democrat lawmaker also has firsthand experience as a cyclist, previously riding a bike to commute from Encinitas to Solana Beach.

“I personally understand the time and energy it takes to make a full stop at a stop sign as a cyclist,” Boerner said.

Also referred to as the “Idaho stop” after the Gem State became the first to legalize a stop-as-yield law for cyclists in 1982, proponents of Assembly Bill 73 argue the law would make the roadways safer for everyone.

Supporting the bill, the California Bicycle Coalition, also known as CalBike, cites data from Delaware showing collisions involving bicycles at intersections went down by 23% after the state adopted the bicycle safety stop.

“Allowing adult cyclists to yield at — not blow through — a stop sign, if safe to do so, follows the example of 10 other states that have already implemented this policy,” Boerner said. “While counterintuitive to some, the data actually shows that this reduces bike-car collisions by about 23%, which is why I reintroduced AB 73 this year.”

The bill would apply to regular bikes and e-bikes, not separately classified in the state’s traffic code.

“All riders would still need to come to slow enough speeds to yield and make a full stop if other bikes, pedestrians, skateboarders or cars are near the intersection,” Boerner said.

Although the bill was passed by the state Assembly and Senate in 2021, Gov. Gavin Newsom vetoed the legislation, saying he believed allowing cyclists to yield to stop signs would be unsafe.

“While I share the author’s intent to increase bicyclist safety, I am concerned this bill will have the opposite effect,” Newsom wrote in his 2021 veto. “The (bill’s) approach…may be especially concerning for children, who may not know how to judge vehicle speeds or exercise the necessary caution to yield to traffic when appropriate.”

The following year, the bill was reintroduced and passed in both houses of the California Legislature, but Boerner pulled the bill ahead of the governor’s promised second veto.

CalBike believes the bill has a better chance this time around due to a surge in bike-friendly policy in Sacramento since last year. The coalition also notes that the bill doesn’t cost the state money and has growing support from residents.

Although many cyclists throughout the state support the bill, some are still concerned about its potential repercussions.

Howard LaGrange — the active transportation and micro-mobility coordinator for BikeWalk Oceanside, the city’s bicycle and pedestrian advisory committee — believes that cyclists should treat riding their bikes as they would driving a car.

“You need to think as a driver of a vehicle,” he said.

LaGrange worries that relaxing the law allowing cyclists to roll through stop signs will encourage unsafe behavior.

“I teach that if you want to be safe on the road, you need to obey the law, be visible and in the right position,” he said.

Despite his concerns, LaGrange noted he is grateful for Boerner’s support of the local cyclist community and is generally supportive of her efforts.

“Tasha has done a lot of good work for active transportation,” LaGrange said.

The state Senate Transportation committee is considering the bill.