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SALT LAKE CITY — Utah representatives passed a bill Tuesday that would modify cyclist laws to allow bike riders to roll through stop signs and proceed after stopping through a red traffic light, provided the cyclist yields the right of way to any vehicle.
The vote in the house on the bill, HB161, was 53-20. The bill's sponsor, House Minority Whip Carol Spackman Moss, D-Holladay, said a similar law has been in place for 32 years in Idaho.
"They have not had any increase in cycling accidents. They have felt that it encouraged biking," Moss said.
Moss said she first ran the bill four years ago. Last year the bill passed in the House but was not voted on in the Senate before the end of the session. She also said this not only makes legal what many cyclists are already doing, it is also safer for them.
"As you know if you're a cyclist, the most dangerous part is starting again. You see people wobbling a little," Moss said.
Rep. Merrill Nelson, R-Grantsville, said he is concerned the law would create a danger, particularly with cyclists making left turns at busy intersections.
"I would feel more comfortable with the bill if it were only a stop sign bill, not a traffic light bill," Nelson said.
Moss said because cyclists do not trigger sensors if they don't ride across after stopping at a red light as the bill would allow, they will wait for an extended time at stop lights or get off the bike and push the walk signal.
Rep. Mark Strong, R-Bluffdale, agreed with Moss.
"As an avid cyclist, this is what's practiced every day. If we pull up to a stop sign or a stop light, especially (in the) early morning or late evening, we roll through the light. The cyclist always looses in these circumstances, and so I am highly careful and highly defensive whenever I approach an intersection," Strong said.