Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Fewer stop signs for cyclists eyed

But don't expect law to allow coasting through

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City traffic managers don't want to let cyclists roll through intersections, but are willing to remove some stop signs from busy bike routes.

In a report to city council's protection and community services committee, transportation manager Luis Escobar says Winnipeg should not pursue the "Idaho stop law," a traffic practice that would allow cyclists to coast through stop signs if no motor vehicles, pedestrians or other cyclists are present.

St. Vital Coun. Gord Steeves, the former chairman of the committee, asked the public service last year to investigate the feasibility of letting cyclists roll past stop signs when no one else is around.

But the public works department concluded only Manitoba Highways would have the authority to change the way road rules are interpreted -- and said it would be unwise to attach any ambiguity to the meaning of stop signs.

"Having one definition of a stop sign for motorists and different definition for cyclists would introduce an element of uncertainty regarding the expectation of approaching cyclists and may reduce the compliance of stop signs by all users," Escobar writes in the report.

Cyclists who desire some relief from the start-stop pedalling routine on some of the city's formal bike routes aren't entirely out of luck.

The same traffic report suggests the active transportation advisory committee -- a group that assists the city's trail-building effort -- come up with a list of bike routes to review for the purpose of getting rid of some stop signs.

Some older city stop signs may not meet modern criteria for establishing stop signs, the report states. These criteria involve traffic and accident counts.

"Reducing the number of unwarranted stop signs on streets identified by ATAC will improve the efficiency of these routes for cyclists as well as reduce unnecessary vehicle stops, reduce fuel consumption and emissions, reduce traffic-noise levels and may promote overall compliance at stop signs in general," Escobar writes.

The report comes before council's protection and community services committee on Monday. A spokesman for Winnipeg's most politically active cycling group said he's disappointed city traffic managers are recommending against the "Idaho stop law," but appreciates the alternative suggestion to get rid of some stop signs.

"Certainly this city has far more than its share of four-way stops. Maybe they'll replace them with yields," said Kevin Miller, co-chairman of Bike To The Future.

It may be safer for cyclists to slow down instead of actually stopping in some instances, he said.

bartley.kives@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition March 5, 2010 A3

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