On the Rights Of Way

One firmly believes ALL road users must “play” by the same rules (though it’s not a game).
When a motorist “offers” me the opportunity to defy my own stop sign it is the act of an irresponsible vehicle operator. I shall continue to demur when offered to break the common rules - the Law - to the point of dismounting and Waiting for the self-styled “benevolent driver” to proceed. That’s all 4 now.


I do find it irritating when drivers try to wave me through when they have the right of way. It usually results in everyone at the intersection waiting longer than they would otherwise have to. But I usually just go once I’ve been waved.


This action on our part gives unwarranted satisfaction to the motorist who feels compelled to “wave on” all comers. Worse, much worse, accepting the “munificence” of brutes makes younger cyclists believe EVERY motorist will provide this, ahem, “waiver” of what’s right. Please, neighbors, stop accepting motor vehicle operators as deciders, overlords and somehiw owners of OUR roads. Thank you.

I missed a typo. “somehOw”

When faced with this situation, I do one or more of these things:

  • Put both feet flat on the ground.
  • Take a drink of water.
  • Blow my nose.
  • Point at the stop sign.
  • Look at the waiving driver and say, “I have a stop sign.”
  • Decide that the stubborn do-gooder is wasting time for both of us or is placing themselves at continually higher risk of being rear ended and needs a bail out. Get off the bike, walk with it over into the nearest crosswalk and cross. This puts me in a predictable situation where I now have the right of way. Remount and continue.

Jay Thatcher, League Cycling Instructor

1 Like

I have switched views on this and now accept the gesture. Often times when I drive up to a 4-way stop, I will wave on the other motorist despite them arriving slightly before me. It just takes the guess out of who should go first. When cycling I always give a friendly wave when the driver waves me through and feel like it is a small, friendly interaction in the middle of what is probably a crappy commute for them. I also don’t think the slowing of traffic for a bit is a bad thing.

1 Like

When the timing of stop is in doubt, give ways to someone on your right. If everyone took note of this, it would reduce confusion induced collisions.

Copied and pasted from the latest driver’s manual:

Stop signs, yield signs, and traffic signals control the flow of traffic at
busy intersections. A defensive driver never assumes a stop sign or a
traffic signal will stop approaching traffic.
At an intersection with a stop sign, steady red signal or flashing red
signal, you must stop before the marked stop line or crosswalk, if
there is one. If there is no stop line or crosswalk, stop before the
unmarked crossing area before entering the intersection (see section
on Pedestrians). Always yield to pedestrians, bicycles, and traffic
in the intersection when making an allowed turn. After stopping, if
you are unable to see traffic coming from your left and right, slightly
pull forward and scan the area. Even if you have a green light, do
not enter an intersection unless there is room for your vehicle on the
other side.
At intersections with stop signs in all four directions, it is common
courtesy to allow the driver who stops first to go first. When in doubt,
yield to the driver on your right. Never assume another driver will
yield the right of way to you.
At intersections with two-way stop signs across from each other, the
driver turning left should yield the right of way to approaching or
oncoming traffic going straight.
As you approach an intersection with no signs or signals, first look to
the left to make sure cross traffic is yielding right of way, then look to
the front and to the right. Be prepared to stop. Yield the right of way to
any vehicle in the intersection or approaching from your right. As you
enter the intersection, check again for unusual or unexpected actions.
If you are the driver on a road that ends at a “T” intersection with no
signs or signals, you must yield to drivers on the through road.

Forgot to share that we published a legal perspective on this a few years back:

Being “nice” is dangerous and could make you at fault in a collision (https://bikeportland.org/2014/09/17/get-legal-nice-dangerous-make-fault-collision-109655)

At intersections with stop signs in all four directions, it is common
courtesy to allow the driver who stops first to go first. When in doubt,
yield to the driver on your right. (Oregon driver’s manual)

I learned those things in driver’s ed, of course, and routinely practice them and intend to continue, but I’d always thought they were codified law. Unless I’m missing something, neither ORS nor RCW actually specifies those courtesies as law. Huh! Learned something more!

So, what do you call that common practice of alternating cars between stop sign and the traffic with the right of way in stop-and-go practice? You’re being “nice” by letting the cars at stop sign go.

A great example is the Ross Island Bridge eastbound ramp.

Does this still stand with the now-legal “Idaho Stop” law? Under Oregon law, if no one is in the intersection, there’s no one to legally yield to if I’m on a bike, and once I enter the intersection, any vehicles stopped now have to yield to me.

For me, it depends on the situation.

My personal pet-peeve is the 3-way intersection at NE 92nd Ave & Benjamin. Southbound 92nd Ave has the only stop sign. Northbound 92nd can continue straight or swerve to the left onto Benjamin without stopping and eastbound Benjamin can proceed onto 92nd without stopping.

I frequently have northbound 92nd (but turning left onto Benjamin) drivers stopping, waiving me through while I’m southbound, stopped at the stop sign. My reaction is usually to put both feet on the ground, point at the stop sign, shake my head, and stare at them until they get the point.