Ludwig Gaines departs Executive Director role at WABA

August 9, 2022

WABA announced today that Ludwig Gaines has resigned as WABA’s Executive Director, effective August 8, 2022. 

As Mr. Gaines departs to pursue other opportunities, we are grateful for his work to deepen WABA’s connections with other organizations in the region that will help us live out our commitment to transportation equity and social justice. Mr. Gaines represented WABA in coalition work with DC Families for Safe Streets and the Capital Trails Coalition, and he oversaw the development of WABA’s first-ever grant partnership with Howard—a project to daylight traffic safety challenges in DC’s most vulnerable wards. 

We are especially appreciative of Mr. Gaines’ work to build relationships with Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton, which earned WABA an invitation to testify before the House Subcommittee on Highways and Transit, Transportation and Infrastructure on the critical need for structural changes to federal transportation priorities and funding to save the lives of pedestrians and cyclists. 

We wish Mr. Gaines success in his future endeavors.

Statement on Board of Ethics and Government Accountability Finding

Recently, WABA received a letter of determination from the District of Columbia Board of Ethics and Government Accountability (BEGA) finding that WABA failed to register as a DC lobbyist from 2018 to 2020.  We respectfully disagree with the BEGA ruling that WABA was required to register as a DC lobbyist during that time and are considering our options in response to it. Moving forward, WABA will continue our work as a charitable, civic organization empowering people to ride bikes, build connections, and transform places. We envision a just and sustainable transportation system where walking, biking, and transit are the best ways to get around.

Suitland Bike and Roll Safety Day at the Capital Market

WABA and our partners will be at the second annual Bike and Roll Safety Day on Sunday, July 10th from 12-4pm at the Capital Market. Join us to learn bike safety tips, the rules of the road, get a bike tune-up, ride a pop-up bike trail and get a FREE BIKE HELMET! Bring your bikes, skates, or scooters!

Register

Partners:

  • District Youth Cycling
  • Streets Calling DC
  • Prince George’s County Department of Public Works & Transportation
  • Coalition for Smarter Growth
  • Suitland Civic Association
  • WABA
  • and more!

Location:

Creative Suitland
4719 Silver Hill Road
Suitland, MD 20746
View on map

Saving Trees from Invasive Weeds

by a DC Trail Ranger

Even in winter one of the first things that struck me about the trails we would be working on was how much green space DC has, and how much of that green space was being destroyed by invasive species.

One of the best things is that for a rare change, I was put in a position where I could actually do something about it. Trees are one of our most important resources. In a world that’s rapidly warming, they help absorb the carbon that’s heating up our planet, but they also help keep us cool with their shade. Even in 95 degrees, Marvin Gaye Trail was cool and comfortable with the shade of large trees while we worked. But to keep them, they need our help.


The sad part is many of these trees are dead or being ripped down by the weight of vines that were never meant to be here in the first place. River birches snapped in half by kudzu, branches of pines and sycamores being pulled down by porcelain berry or bittersweet, huge oaks covered in english ivy, and whole areas swamped by multiflora rose or bush honeysuckle crowding out everything and stealing the sunshine. 

The great part is, that I get to help fix it. Five minutes of snipping vines at the base of a tree means years of growth will die off and eventually fall off the trees. Sometimes I’ll find a small tree fighting for its life and with 15 minutes of careful work and it’s free to breathe and grow in the sunlight. It feels pretty great to see a tree you thought was likely dead start to bud and grow leaves.

How did we get here? 

One of the largest reasons for trees being overtaken by weed is due to the countries’ gilded age when gardens were all the rage. The more exotic the more they inspired the vision of wealth and luxury. The upper class showed wealth largely through lavish manor homes and their large estates with beautifully curated gardens. 150 years ago they simply didn’t realize that many of these plants would escape their gardens and reak havoc for the next century across the country. Many plants were spread by birds and pollinators, and many were spread by people wanting these plants in gardens of their own.

What can we do?

If you know you have an invasive plant in your yard you can remove it. Snip vines at the base and let them die off. Choose native plants for your garden and encourage your friends to do the same. Check out local programs in your area to volunteer with and encourage programs like the Trail Ranger Program to provide continuous vegetation maintenance, no one thing is a solution, but they all make a dent. 

Want to learn more about the issue? Check out these additional resources.

This Man Documented 5,000 Trees Being Killed By Vines In Takoma Park : NPR

Why Do DC’s Poorer Neighborhoods Have Fewer Trees? | WAMU

Bad berry or good berry? Porcelain Berry is a NO NO for our local forests | #CincyParks

Saving Your Neighborhood Trees from Invasive Vines

We’re hiring! DC Trail Rangers

Do you love being outdoors and connecting with people? Want to be part of a collaborative trail team in DC, and be paid to engage with folks about trails and fix trails?

The Washington Area Bicyclist Association (WABA) is looking for two passionate and energetic professional trail champions with a wide range of skills and experiences for our permanent Trail Ranger Team. We are looking to hire dependable and thoughtful people who can grow into their roles and join our existing field team. Beyond this, there is not a standard job history, experience of biking, years of experience or skills set that made previous Trail Rangers successful. This position (and program!) includes a lot of different knowledge areas — we are not expecting new staff to know it all at the beginning, and the skills and strengths of everyone on the team shape some particulars of how the program is run.

These positions are expected to begin in early August 2022. Pay will be $45,760 annually, plus benefits. These positions are permanent full-time opportunities, with five day, 8 hours per shift work weeks. A standard work week will be either Tuesday through Saturday or Sunday through Thursday for individual staff. Shifts will vary in start time to ensure varied trail presence, more details are included below. 

About the Trail Rangers Program

WABA’s Trail Ranger Program aims to make the District’s trails welcoming and inclusive to all residents, frequently used, and in a state of good repair. The program encourages trail use through daily trail presence, community engagement, trail maintenance, and trail user assistance.  Trail Rangers cover paved multi-use trails within the District, including the Oxon Run Trail, Metropolitan Branch Trail, Anacostia River Trail, Marvin Gaye Trail, and connecting street routes. Trail Rangers act as trail ambassadors, offering a consistent and friendly presence to make the trails more enjoyable, inclusive and dependable for transportation and recreation. 

Starting in January 2022, the Trail Ranger Program began full-time, year round staffing and operations (the program was seasonal for the previous nine years). Year round operation enables WABA to have a professional trail team with ongoing training and skill development.

WABA’s Trail Ranger Program contract with the District’s Urban Forestry Division goes through 2024, with possibilities of extension beyond 2024. This position is contingent upon annual funding renewal.

You can learn more about the Trail Ranger Program here.

The Team

The WABA Trail Ranger Team is a ten person team, including: Trail Ranger and Outreach Director, Outreach Manager, Operations Manager, and seven DC Trail Ranger field staff. Day-to-day management of the program is done by the Operations and Outreach Managers, with overall strategy and regional coordination by the Director. Team culture heavily values collaboration and mutual respect, with weekly all-staff team meetings and many decisions made or led by field staff. Individual Trail Rangers will report directly to either the Operations or Outreach Manager.

Job Responsibilities

  • Spend the majority of your work hours outside, biking on or between trails year-round (except during thunderstorms, very cold days, and other hazardous conditions).
  • Complete office tasks as assigned, and plan and implement individual office based projects. 
  • Work eight-hour shifts with a partner, riding electric-assist cargo bikes at a relaxed, conversational pace.
  • Collaborate with your team members to determine daily priorities and share program information. 
  • Support and encourage trail use with friendly and helpful trail presence, regular maintenance efforts and consistent outreach events.
  • Help lower barriers to bicycling, build community, and build a more robust trail network.
  • Run trail cleanups, and a variety of programming and community events with the Outreach and Operations Managers, including outside and inside programming. 
  • Perform trail condition inspections and trail corridor maintenance, including pruning branches, gathering trash, and removing obstructions.
  • Track outreach and maintenance work in Google Sheets and Salesforce.

This position is based from WABA’s Adams Morgan office in Washington, DC.

Qualifications

We would love to consider you as a candidate and don’t expect staff to know everything on day one! Give us your best pitch of how your professional and/or personal experience fits the job qualifications and the role in your cover letter.

Core Skills and Experience: 

  • A proven track record for being dependable, timely, and communicative.
  • The willingness to be positive and engaging in a public setting.
  • The willingness and enthusiasm to work in a collaborative team and as a proactive, self starter. 
  • The capacity to be available for 40 hours per week in 8 hour shifts with weekday and weekend availability. Shifts are generally:
    • 6:30 am – 2:30 pm, 8:00 am – 4:00pm, 9:00 am – 5:00 pm or 11:00 am – 7:00 pm on weekdays.
    • 8:00 am – 4:00 pm for Saturday or Sunday shifts.
    • Individual Trail Rangers either work Tuesday through Saturday or Sunday through Thursday each week.
  • An understanding of the demands of a public facing and outreach focused position, and with that, the willingness to have their photo used for program documentation and promotion.
  • A commitment to being a safe and exemplary bicyclist.
  • A commitment to respect, include, and be kind to all.
  • An understanding of how race, gender, and other factors shape conversations and experiences.  
  • The willingness to continually learn more about trails, neighborhood history and the many different cultural competencies necessary for working in the DC region.
  • The ability to ride a bike, with a willingness to ride in mixed city traffic and off-street trails.
  • Candidates must be located in the Washington, DC area.
  • Candidates must be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 pursuant to Mayor’s Order 2021-099, Section II, and Mayor’s Order 2021-147, Section VI, or be eligible for an exemption as defined by the District of Columbia Mayor’s Order 2021-099, Section III.

Useful Skills & Experience:

  • Lived experience with our program trails, and the nearby neighbors and neighborhoods, especially near Marvin Gaye and Oxon Run trails.
  • A proven track record for working collaboratively within a team.
  • Excellent communication skills in informal settings and across lines of difference.
  • Creative problem-solving skills and capacity to innovate.
  • The ability to prioritize and a thoughtful attention to detail.
  • Street smarts. By which we mean knowledge to make nuanced decisions while doing a field-based job, including recognizing hate language in graffiti, what might be at play in perceived threats to trail users and/or which options are safest for engaging angry members of the public. 
  • Experience working in a multi-lingual, including mixed Deaf and hearing, work environment
  • Amateur or formal experience in mid-Atlantic plant identification and ecology, and native plant restoration. 
  • Working fluency in Spanish, ASL and/or Amharic.
  • Previous experience as a DC Trail Ranger. 
  • Working knowledge of bicycle maintenance, up to and including flat repair, shifting adjustments, hydraulic brake maintenance, and regular maintenance tasks needed for the Tern fleet bikes (complicated maintenance will be performed by a local bicycle shop).
  • Basic computer skills.
  • Experience with Google Suite (Gmail, Chat, Drive, Sheets, Docs) and Salesforce.
  • District residency is preferred.

Support

There’s a lot of work to do! Here’s some of what’s available to help get it done:

  • Orientation and team management that prioritizes your well-being, including training in preventing common bicycling injuries.
  • Doing our best to have a consistent schedule that respects your time and outside obligations. 
  • Providing all the tools, bikes and materials needed to perform the job, including Tern electric cargo bikes.
  • Nine years of institutional knowledge in running the DC Trail Ranger program. 
  • Teaching you the skills necessary for the job (urban bike riding, basic trail maintenance, basic bike maintenance, how to do field outreach, Salesforce).
  • An inclusive, collaborative professional team environment. 
  • We are set up as an intersectional outreach program that recognizes the multitudes of identities and promotes diversity, inclusion, and equity for employees and the public.
  • WABA’s other Outreach Program staff for knowledge sharing and collaboration. 
  • A lot of other events and resources by WABA and trail partners to chat with trail users about.

Compensation & Benefits

This is a full-time, salaried non-exempt position. The annual salary is $45,760. Other benefits include:

  • 100% employer-paid health, dental, and vision insurance premiums.
  • Vacation, sick and personal leave, including:
    • Accrue up to 120 hours of paid vacation starting in your first year, with additional hours after two, five, and ten years of service.
    • Accrue up to 160 hours annually of paid sick time starting in your first year.
    • WABA supports and promotes the health of its staff. You may use accrued sick time for unscheduled leave when not feeling well (mind or body), as well as for scheduled medical appointments.
  • Paid time off for holidays following the federal holiday calendar. 
  • 8 weeks paid parental leave and up to 8 weeks of additional parental leave from the DC Paid Family Leave act (based on eligibility).
  • Immediate access to WABA’s 403(b) retirement program, with up to a 5% employer match after one-year of service.
  • Optional commuter transit benefit (pre tax deduction)
  • A fun and relaxed workplace environment.
  • Passionate, supportive colleagues who are dedicated to working together for our mission and seeing the impact of our work.

COVID-19 Operational Staff Safety Plan:

WABA understands that some COVID-19 precautions remain necessary for the 2022 season and potentially beyond. The health of staff and trail users is a top priority. 

  • Properly worn quality masks may be required on the job, except for distanced water and snack breaks. Masks will be provided when necessary. 
  • The majority of Trail Ranger work will be performed outdoors.

About the Washington Area Bicyclist Association

Mission & Vision

WABA empowers people to ride bikes, build connections, and transform places. We envision a just and sustainable transportation system where walking, biking, and transit are the best ways to get around.

Values
To make our vision a reality, we ground our work in five key values:

Joy: We celebrate people and share the joy of bicycling.
Boldness: We think big and transform passion into action.
Integrity: We earn trust through consistency, honesty, and transparency.
Justice: We put justice at the heart of our work.
Stewardship: We care for people and the environment, conserve resources, and evolve thoughtfully.

Visit our about page to read WABA’s theory of change and more on how we will continue impacting positive change in our region’s transportation system.

HOW TO APPLY

Email your cover letter and resume to jobs[at]waba[dot]org with “DC Trail Ranger” as the subject line. Please make sure your application illustrates how you meet the qualifications for the job and what additional skills you would bring to the team.

Applications that are not emailed directly to jobs[at]waba[dot]org and/or do not include a cover letter will be considered incomplete. Incomplete applications will not be moved forward for consideration.

The deadline to submit applications is July 6, 2022. We expect the position to start in early August 2022.

No phone calls please

WABA is committed to providing equal employment opportunity for all persons regardless of race, color, religion, national origin, marital status, arrest record or criminal convictions, political affiliation, sexual orientation or gender identity, disability, sex, or age.

Youth Learn to Ride Class

Our Youth Learn to Ride class is fun, intuitive, and very successful! This class is for children aged 6-12 who have never ridden a bike before or have tried to learn and have not been successful. Our League certified instructors take students through a progressive curriculum, with the goal of riding with two pedals by the end of the session.

Register Location

All students are responsible for bringing their own bicycle and helmet*. All students are required to wear a helmet for the duration of the class. 

*If the young learner does not have their own bike or helmet, please email us at youth@waba.org.

Our approach is fun and intuitive, but it also requires hard work. Your child will be riding for two hours. We take breaks every hour. This class is for your child if:

  • They are between the ages of 6 and 12 years old 
  • Your child has never tried to learn how to ride a bike; or
  • They have tried to learn and have not been successful.

All students are responsible for bringing their own bicycle and helmet. All students are required to wear a helmet for the duration of the class.  Your child should be able to sit on the saddle with their feet on the ground. If their bike is too big or too small for them, it will be a challenge to teach them to use it. Contact us if you have questions!

Please ensure that your child comes to class wearing comfortable clothes and close-toed shoes. Please bring the following: water and snacks, and a mask. This class will be outdoors.

Only students who have reserved space in the class may attend. Unfortunately, walk-up students cannot be accommodated.

Health and Safety Protocols

Due to the ongoing effects of COVID-19, all participants are expected to adhere to WABA’s health and safety guidelines for in-person events:

  • Participants should not attend in-person events if they feel sick or show symptoms of illness. WABA will refund registration fees to individuals who cannot attend because they are sick on the day of an event. If you are sick and unable to attend an in-person event, contact WABA for a refund.
  • WABA youth education classes are mask optional. WABA does not require participants to be vaccinated in order to attend class although we strongly encourage all participants to receive the COVID-19 vaccine. Those who have not been vaccinated are required to wear a CDC approved facemask for the duration of class. Anyone who has received the COVID-19 vaccine may choose to forgo masks. WABA respects anyone’s decision to wear a mask and encourages all people to advocate for themselves. If you would like to wear a mask during class and would like to maintain social distancing we highly encourage you to do so! WABA will not tolerate any disrespect towards WABA staff or participants who choose to wear a mask for their own safety and peace of mind.
  • Participants will provide their contact information at event registration. Participants consent to WABA contacting them and/or releasing their contact information to necessary authorities if there is a need for contact tracing following an event to contain an outbreak of COVID-19.
  • Parents will be asked to wait away from the class and not participate.

Location

Anacostia Park Boat Ramp Parking Lot

1500 Anacostia Dr, Washington, DC 20020

The class location is highlighted in the image below.

the pavement will turn into dirt and you will see a sign that says “service vehicles only”. Your class will take place in the parking lot to the right of this sign.

WABA Instructors will be wearing teal polos.

Parking: There is parking available at this location.

Public Transportation:
This location is a 15-minute walk from the Pennsylvania Ave L’Enfant SE Bus Station.

Registration

Updates on the University Blvd Protected Bike Lane

In June 2021, after a successful push by advocates, the Montgomery County Council, and Maryland State Delegates/Senators, the Maryland State Highway Administration (“SHA”) installed protected bike lanes on a 1.35 miles stretch of University Boulevard in Wheaton as part of a 6-month experiment of repurposing car-only spaces to support safer biking and walking on State highways. In January 2022, SHA staff announced that despite all data demonstrating that the changes were a tremendous success, they have decided that protected bike lanes will not be returning to University Blvd.

For the pilot, SHA repurposed the curb travel lanes into bike lanes, marked with plastic bollards, lane striping and signage, leaving two lanes in each direction for car traffic.  This established an 11 foot wide car-free space in each direction for people on bikes or using mobility devices.  This space also served as a buffer between the sidewalks and travel lanes for much more comfortable walking and wheeling along this busy State road.  This short segment of protected bike lanes made for a safe connection between the Sligo Creek Trail and the Wheaton Central Business District and its many restaurants, shops and offices.  It also made getting to Northwood High School much safer from the west.

Average daily westbound bicycle counts on University Blvd during pilot period

At a public meeting on January 26, 2022, SHA noted that with respect to all the data gathered during the six month pilot period, the pilot was a total success.  Reducing driving lanes and adding bike lanes helped reduce car speeds to conform with the 35 mph limit.  The pilot did not result in any significant traffic congestion on MD-193 in either direction, adding, at most, 15 seconds to travel the 1.35 miles by car at the busiest time of day.  At the same time, the number of people using their bikes on University doubled compared to the months before the pilot was implemented, despite the fact that the treatment was only on a short segment of this road with relatively few destinations or bike network connections.

Average weekday driving travel time before (March) and after (October) bike lanes were installed. Note that 0.2 minutes is 12 seconds.

At the conclusion of the pilot In December 2021, the pilot installation was dismantled for easier snow plowing and SHA posted a survey to gauge public opinion on the pilot for two weeks. SHA mailed postcards to adjacent residents in Kemp Mill, but did not share the survey to the project’s email list or to the hundreds of supporters who submitted feedback between June 2021 and December 2021.  At the January 26 meeting, SHA then announced that the poll results, not the data or written feedback collected during the pilot period, were the main deciding factor in whether to reinstall the protected bike lanes on any portion of University Boulevard.

Unsurprisingly, the poll showed that the pilot bike lanes were unpopular among people who did not use them, but the reason is not what you think. To minimize unsafe conflicts in the bike lanes, SHA closed a slip lane at Arcola Avenue which serves the Kemp Mill neighborhood.  This closure did cause some car backups and became a point of controversy for some in Kemp Mill who felt they had not been consulted prior to the closure of the slip lane.  For these Kemp Mill residents, the safety enhancements from the bike lanes were irrelevant because it took longer to turn onto University Blvd. For the 19% of respondents who reported using the lane at least once, 85% rated their experience as Strongly Liked, Liked, or Neutral.

Though 81% of survey respondents had not used the lanes, 81% of those who used them liked the experience.

All of the data gathered by SHA showed positive impacts from the pilot lanes.  In addition, the data revealed no negative impacts to traffic flows on University Boulevard (see the full presentation here).  However, SHA seemed to ignore all of the data and written feedback gathered during the pilot period and decided to rely solely on the responses in it’s online poll when considering next steps on University Boulevard.  The poll, mainly distributed to residents in the Kemp Mill neighborhood, had a large majority of responses from people who never used the lanes and had a negative reaction to the closure of the slip lane on Arcola Avenue.  It was this poll that SHA relied on when making it’s decision to not put protected bike lanes on any section of University Boulevard.  We feel that decision was incorrect and motivated by factors wholly unrelated to the merits of the pilot lanes themselves.

SHA did note in the January meeting that they were open to pilot treatments on other State Highways.  So, if you have an idea for a State Highway where you believe a protected bike lane could be a success, we urge you to suggest it in an email to:

  1. SHA administrator Tim Smith (timsmith2@mdot.maryland.gov) and the SHA District 3 office (dgunn@mdot.maryland.gov); &
  2. Your state Delegates and Senators (https://mgaleg.maryland.gov/mgawebsite/Members/District)

Show SHA and your elected representatives that you disagree with the justification for not allowing the protected bike lanes on any portion of University Boulevard.  Tell them you support more protected bike lanes on State Highways to make walking, biking and use of all mobility devices safer along our busiest roads.

Peter A Gray

Maryland Organizer

Washington Area Bicyclist Association

Tell the Fairfax Supervisors to prioritize parks and trails!

Fairfax County’s proposed budget for FY 2023 comes with good and bad news. The good: funding for 2 new full time staff dedicated to active transportation planning! The bad: significant underfunding for Fairfax County Park Authority (FCPA). 

We need your help to advocate for more funding for FCPA and continue to support active transportation!

Simply put, the current allocation is inadequate to clean and maintain a park system with 24,000 acres, 427 parks, 334 miles of trails, serving over 1 million residents and with more than 18 million visits per year. Increased investment is needed to keep up with the growing demand for parks, trails, natural areas and green spaces – we’ve all experienced the flocking to outdoor spaces during the pandemic. Funding is also desperately needed to ensure that FCPA, historically reliant on fee-based services for up to 60% of its budget, can adapt and address systemic inequities in accessibility as mandated by the County’s One Fairfax equity policy. It will be devastating if FCPA is forced to institute or raise fees, restrict access, and eliminate programs to cope with a stagnant budget, especially for low-income and communities of color already living with fewer nearby green spaces.

The big issues:

  • FCPA requested FY23 funding of $5 million for increased implementation of the One Fairfax program to increase accessibility of all programming (including fee-based programs). The County Executive proposes only $500,000 or 10% of the requested funding, resulting in significant continuing inequitable access to programs.
  • FCPA requested FY23 funding of $751,954 to implement sustainable natural resource management and to improve management of natural resources in its parks including trails. The County Executive only proposes $50,000 or 6.6% of the requested funding.
  • Most significantly, the County Executive proposes changing and reducing the funding used for major capital projects like trail construction and rehabilitation. Rather than receiving $100 million over a 4-year bond cycle, FCPA would receive $100 million over a 6-year period.

We are calling on all Fairfax County residents to call or email Supervisor to let them know that trails and parks are important to you and need more funding. 

Email your supervisor today! [button to generate targeted message]

  • SUPPORT funding for new active transportation staff to grow Fairfax County’s non-car transit network. 
  • DEMAND that the Board of Supervisors and County Executive fully fund FCPA’s maintenance and equity work. 
  • REJECT the change to a 6-year bond cycle and instead increase the bond amount to $150 million over 4 years to address the backlog of capital maintenance and repair projects.

We know growing the County’s trail network and preserving open spaces are top priorities for Fairfax County residents – speak up today! Your voice matters and the public budget process is an important and effective way to affect the County’s direction. 
Keep your eye out for upcoming public budget hearings between April 12-14. You can also sign up to speak at your Supervisor’s Budget Town Hall Meeting. Need help crafting your testimony? Let us know!

Welcoming the Safety Stop to DC

A protected bike lane ending in a stop sign intersection
Fresh green paint (aka Kermit), bike sneak, curb ramp, and crosswalk markings on 14th,” by SDOT; CC BY-NC 2.0

Back in February, DC Councilmember Mary Cheh introduced the Safer Intersections Amendment Act of 2022. Among other safety changes involving pedestrians, the bill would also legalize a set of practices known variously as the safety stop, Delaware Yield or, most famously, the Idaho Stop. 

The safety stop or Idaho Stop—named after the first state to adopt such a law in 1982—allows those on bicycles, e-bikes, scooters, or other personal mobility devices to treat red lights as stop signs and treat stop signs as yield signs. As it currently stands, bicyclists are required to follow the same road rules as cars. They must come to a complete stop before proceeding at stop signs and must wait for a green light at traffic signal intersections.

Opponents of the safety stop often make the argument that bicyclists should follow the same road laws as everyone else. However, this argument doesn’t proceed in a good faith recognition of the meaningful differences between a bike and a car.

The rationale for allowing safety stops is, perhaps counterintuitively, safety. Intersections are particularly dangerous for bicyclists, with 54.5% of injuries occurring at intersections according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Bicyclists are at risk of being rear-ended when stationary, ‘right hooked’ by turning vehicles, or sideswiped by vehicles accelerating past them after a stop. Bicyclists alone at an intersection may also fail to trigger underground road sensors that tell traffic signals when to turn, resulting in long delays. The safety stop enables bicyclists to move more quickly through an intersection while getting out ahead of traffic, increasing their visibility, and reducing their exposure to traffic.

Efficiency and comfort also play a role, as slowing rather than full stopping allows bicyclists and other riders to maintain momentum. Riders conserve energy, making bicycling a faster and more convenient mode of transportation, which in turn may encourage further ridership. It is also an acknowledgement that riders with their higher, unimpeded view atop a bicycle are not the same as drivers ensconced within a vehicle and thus better able to quickly assess the safety of an intersection. This video helpfully illustrates the principles behind the safety stop.

Lastly, legalizing the safety stop has important racial justice ramifications. While the safety stop is already the norm for many bicyclists—only 1 in 25 report fully stopping at all stop signs—it is still grounds for a traffic citation. The rare and selective enforcement of rolling through a stop sign enables the law to be wielded in racially disparate ways. A 2015 Tampa Police Department report revealed that 73% of bicycle stops involved Black bicyclists, in a city that is only 26% Black. In Seattle, Black bicyclists were cited for helmet infractions 4 times as often as White bicyclists, prompting backlash and repeal of the longstanding law this year. Removing one potential pretext for police interaction will make for safer and more welcoming streets for our city’s Black bicyclists.

Map of states with Safety Stop laws: 

dark blue: rolling stop and red-as-stop; light blue: rolling stop only; hashed: depends on municipality

Idaho, Missouri, Oklahoma are dark blue; Washington, Oregon, Utah, North Dakota, are light blue; Colorado is hashed
“Idaho Stop” laws in the United States

It is important to note that the safety or Idaho Stop does NOT allow bicyclists and others to ignore traffic conditions. At a stop sign, bicyclists must still yield the right of way to pedestrians and cars in or about to enter the intersection. And at a red light, bicyclists may only proceed when the intersection is clear and it is safe to do so. Dangerous and careless behavior is still grounds for citation.Early research backs up the safety claim. A 2010 UC Berkeley study found that bicycle injuries declined 14.5% the year after adoption of safety stop laws. Additionally, Idaho is no longer an outlier in regards to amending traffic laws to better cohere with the experiences of bicyclists. In the last 5 years, a diverse collection of 8 states—Delaware (2017), Colorado (2019), Arkansas (2019), Oregon (2019), Washington (2020), Utah (2021), North Dakota (2021), and Oklahoma (2021)—have adopted bicycle safety stop measures with California also considering adoption in 2022.