OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – Oklahoma cyclists will welcome new rules of the road in November, after a measure that aims to better protect bicyclists was signed into Oklahoma law. However, it has been met with controversy.
“Basically, it legalized what a lot of people on bikes were already doing,” said Ride OKC Founder Ryan Fogle.
House Bill 1770, which was signed into law on Tuesday, will allow cyclists to treat stop lights as stop signs. When the light is red, cyclists will need to stop. If no one is coming and the cyclist believes it is safe, they can ride through.
“It’s safer all around for bikes and people in cars and walkers whenever the light does turn green, so people are more likely to see us at an intersection before the cars take off,” said Fogle.
“I’m really excited about the treating stop signs as yields. Nationally it’s known as the Idaho stop,” said Oklahoma City Councilwoman JoBeth Hammon.
Fogle and Hammon said the change will help cyclists keep their momentum.
“It basically allows us to kind of yield, but still be safe and just proceed through without having to kill our momentum and use a lot more energy,” said Fogle.
“It’s safer for you as a bicyclist but it’s also safer for other road users like people in cars or on foot,” Hammon told KFOR.
HB 1770 also states drivers who honk at cyclists or animal drawn carriages, unless they are trying to avoid a crash, could face a misdemeanor.
Nicole McAfee, with the ACLU, took issue with the law. She told KFOR that education is good, but punishment is unnecessary.
“What it does do is puts people at greater risk of interaction with police,” said McAfee. “I’d really like us to shift away from ‘how do we criminalize’ or ‘how do we punish a behavior’ and instead talk about how we change it.”
“We don’t want people in cars to be honking at people on bikes, which I’m totally appreciative of,” said Hammon. “But at the same time, I don’t see how it produces that much safety for cyclists.”
When the law takes effect in November, cyclists will be allowed to use turn signals with both hands.