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Montreal proposes allowing cyclists to treat stop signs as yields, turn right at red lights

The city government of Valérie Plante included the measure among ways to reduce or eliminate cycling-related fatalities.

The “Idaho stop” effectively treats stop signs as yields for cyclists. (Image credit: Photo Credit: dno1967b via Compfight cc “)

Among other amendments to Quebec’s Highway Safety Code, the City of Montreal want to revise existing traffic rules to allow cyclists to treat stop signs as yields, allowing them greater freedom — not to mention more protection — in terms of how they get around.

Known as “the Idaho Stop,” the measure, by permitting riders’ discretion, is intended to protect cyclists from trucks with blind spots and distracted drivers.

Montreal prepared the series of proposed revisions last December as Bill 165, and released the highlights to the public on Feb. 14. Under the previous mayoral administration of Denis Coderre, the city appealed to the provincial government to support Vision Zero, a policy initiative with the goal of eliminating cycling deaths and serious injuries. The government of Valerie Plante, which took office on Nov. 16, 2017, added provisions to allow cyclists to treat stop signs as yields among Vision Zero’s measures, something it hopes will modernize the rules of the road to “reflect more accurately the reality of the one million Montrealers who bike to get around,” the CBC reported.

When encountering pedestrians at an intersection, however, cyclists will still be required to slow down and give them priority.

The laundry list of proposed amendments also includes allowing cyclists to cross on pedestrian signals, turn right on red lights, as well as allowing children to ride on sidewalks. On the flip side, Montreal also suggested banning cyclists from riding while under the influence of alcohol or drugs, as well as hiking penalties for riders to reflect the severity of certain infractions, rather than having one set fine. The changes aren’t limited to cyclists, though, as an amendment making side guards mandatory for heavy trucks has also been proposed.

Not all the changes have been welcomed by the Province. Quebec’s Transport Ministry has already indicated they won’t budge on the proposed red light amendments, Radio-Canada reported.

“We don’t have any indication that this measure will improve the safety of road users,” a spokesperson for the Ministry said, saying that allowing the Idaho Stop isn’t something the province is willing to consider.