Danny Morris at Common Tragedies explains and advocates for wider adoption of the Idaho Stop Law:
The law, named after the clever state that instituted it in 1982, says that cyclists may treat stop signs as yield signs (they must stop for those w/ the right of way, but can proceed w/o stopping if the coast is clear) and may treat stop lights as stop signs (they must stop, but can proceed when the coast is clear, even if the light is still red).
Morris links to a report at The Athletes Lawyer that said:
Meanwhile, in the past 27 years, Idaho motorists and police have grown to accept the legislation as sensible public policy, said Jason Meggs, a UC-Berkeley researcher who spent last summer crunching years of traffic data, conducting interviews and observing cyclist behavior in the state. Boise, home to Idaho’s biggest bike population, “has actually become safer for bicyclists than other cities which don’t have the law,” Meggs said.”
I guess I’ve been operating under my own private Idaho Stop Law, the description fits my usual riding habits pretty well.
Casual observation suggests the Idaho Stop is widely practiced by cyclists. (See, for example, this article from The Oregonian where the author came up with the same Gus Van Sant movie reference that I’m using.) Perhaps one reason that the law improves safety is that it helps coordinate expectations of cyclists and motor vehicle operators.