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story.lead_photo.caption Arkansas Democrat-Gazette/File photo - Gov. Hutchinson

LITTLE ROCK -- A new biking law that will soon take effect in Arkansas will change how cyclists respond to stop signs and red lights, a move that officials and advocates say will help keep cyclists safe and traffic rolling.

Gov. Asa Hutchinson signed the bike law last week, the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette reported. Beginning July 1, bicyclists will be allowed to proceed at stop signs and red lights after yielding, as long as traffic is clear and the move doesn't create an immediate hazard.

The law allows cyclists to maintain momentum and encourages them to ride on back roads, said Joe Jacobs, chairman of the Governor's Advisory Council on Cycling.

"It's good for bike safety, it's good for transit in the state, it's good for tourism," Jacobs said. "It's a really good law, particularly for towns that don't have strong cycling infrastructure, like protected bike lanes."

Traffic cameras often fail to detect bikes, which can leave a cyclist waiting at an intersection indefinitely, said John Landosky, Little Rock's bicycle and pedestrian coordinator. The law will allow cyclists to navigate more efficiently, he said.

Landosky plans to incorporate information on the new law into the city's Friendly Driver Certification Program, which teaches drivers how to be safer around bicyclists and pedestrians.

"It's a good time to make sure that people have those conversations. I certainly want to make sure that people know the difference between this being a law that says bikes can ignore stop signs and what it is, it says bikes may yield at stop signs," Landosky said.

Arkansas is the second state to enact a law that addresses both stop sign and red light rules for cyclists. Idaho passed a state law in 1982 that addressed the same issues. There was a 14.5% drop in the bicycle injury rate in Idaho the year after the law was adopted, according to a sustainability and health consultant's 2010 review.

State Desk on 04/11/2019

Print Headline: New law changes red light, stop sign rules for cyclists

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