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Different road rules for cyclists and drivers

Tension can run high as cyclists and drivers share city streets. While many drivers say they'd like cyclists to follow the rules of the road, we talk to a cyclist who says her kind should be governed differently.

In Ontario, legislators are updating traffic and highway legislation. While speaking to a committee last month, one Ottawa police sergeant urged government to spread the net of some road rules to make sure they include cyclists.

But Kathryn Hunt sees things differently. She thinks cyclists should have to follow rules-- but not necessarily the same ones as drivers. 

Hunt says cars and bikes may use the same space, but they don't use it in the same way: "They're very different vehicles. Some of the rules work fine for both, but sometimes there are rules that just make more sense for cyclists and rules that make more sense for cars." 

She agrees there are some things that both cyclists and drivers should do, like stop at intersections and signal when turning, but she says there are many "hacks" that cyclists use (like rolling stops, or riding in pedestrian crosswalks) that could be made legal. She argues a lot of the tension between cyclists and drivers, and cyclists and pedestrians, comes from a lack of predictability-- because each person on a bike is adapting the rules for themselves. If there were clear, cyclist-only rules, she says, that problem would go away. 

One of the rules she's like to see is the "Idaho Stop." In Idaho, and several other U.S. jurisdictions, cyclists use stop signs and stop lights differently. At a stop sign, the cyclist must only yield (not stop), as it is safe to do so. At a red light, a cyclist must stop, but then can proceed through the intersection (if safe).


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