By Jeff Keeling
Perhaps if I’d utilized an “Idaho stop” at the red light rather than what I’ll deem here a “Johnson City stop,” things would have turned out better for me a couple weeks ago.
It seemed the logical thing to do at the time, but looking back, perhaps it wasn’t the greatest decision after all.
I had bombed down the hill on Watauga Avenue from Lamont Street to State of Franklin Road on my Lemond Buenos Aires road bike. Approaching the State of Franklin light, I engaged in my usual practice of looking both ways, saw what I considered a perfectly safe opportunity to cross, and cruised through the red light.
I saw several cars a safe distance down State of Franklin. The Johnson City police car wasn’t one of them. Turning onto West Walnut Street a few seconds later, I noticed flashing lights behind me. “This cop is pulling me over,” I thought to myself.
Indeed, a minute later I was sitting, forlorn, on the side of Boyd Street, bicycle helmet at my side. As the officer – who had chastised me zealously – was writing me a perfectly deserved citation, the lovely and talented Angela sidled up in her scrubs, having seen me as she headed home.
“Is everything alright?” she said with a wry grin. “Yes,” I answered sheepishly. “Then I’ll head home,” she said.
Have I learned my lesson? Time will tell. My passages through red lights and stop signs have not been unsafe. Travis at the Trek store said a move is afoot in many parts of the country to legalize the “Idaho stop.” I looked it up. It involves yielding for a stop sign, but when it comes to a traffic light, the protocol is to stop, then proceed if the way is safe. Hence I label my actions a couple weeks ago a Johnson City stop.
Next time I bomb down Watauga and the light is red, perhaps I’ll try an Idaho stop. Or maybe I’ll just wait (and wait, and wait) for the light to turn green.