Democratic state Sen. Creigh Deeds warned that this week was “do or die” for his bill that would have given localities permission to legalize so-called “Idaho stops,” which allow cyclists to roll through stop signs and merely pause at stop lights.
The bill died on Tuesday.
“There were four yea votes and five nay votes,” said Robert Asplund, clerk of Transportation Subcommittee #1 Department of Motor Vehicles. “As of right now it’s dead.”
Deeds, who represents the Charlottesville area in the state Senate, said his bill fell to partisanship, as one of the five Republicans voting no in that subcommittee had voted in favor of another cycling safety measure, the 2021 law that now lets cyclists ride two abreast and requires motor vehicles to move into the opposing lane to pass. That’s Robert Bloxom, who represents the 100th District, which includes parts of Norfolk and Virginia Beach.
“I pointed his inconsistency out while he asked questions, and he denied his past support,” Deeds told the Daily Progress in a text message.
“I just don’t like the bill,” said Bloxom. “I could care less who carries it.”
The measure was praised by cyclists and appeared backed by science, as a 2010 study by a University of California, Berkeley, researcher and more recent data from Delaware both pointed toward fewer bike crashes under Idaho-style rules.
University of Virginia transportation historian Peter Norton has said that Idaho stops would be particularly helpful in the hilly and physically challenging terrain of Charlottesville.
“An Idaho stop is great idea,” Norton told The Daily Progress after Deeds’ bill was introduced. “It’s much safer.”
However, Bloxom alleged that a deeper dive into the data would show that even as total crashes might fall with Idaho stops, fatal incidents might rise. He said that the study in question was now offline.
Bloxsom noted that Virginia already has one set of rules for cars and another for pedestrians.
“I don’t like having a third set of rules,” said Bloxsom. “Most of [the cyclists] run through the stop sign anyway, but I’m not gonna put it in code.”
Deeds’ bill would not have mandated making Idaho stops legal throughout the commonwealth but would have enabled localities to make their own decisions.
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