Reporting Jason DeRusha
MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — When the weather gets warmer in Minnesota, the bicyclists come out. And with more bikes on the road, more of us notice the red-light running, wrong-way riding bicyclists. And more of them notice the cars not paying attention to them. So, what are the laws in Minnesota about bicycling?
The key statute is MN 169.222, which lays out the rules for operating a bicycle. The primary rule: “Traffic laws apply.”
• Bicycles should ride in the street.
Many motorists believe that bikes belong on the sidewalk.
“In Minnesota a bicycle is a legal user of the road,” said Julie Kosbab, a certified bicycle instructor who runs RideBoldly.org.
She’s written extensively on bike-car laws.
“I think it’s important to keep in mind that bicycles are vehicles and most of the laws that apply to vehicles, apply to bicycles,” said Kosbab.
In business districts, like downtown Minneapolis, it’s actually illegal to ride on sidewalks. The rule of thumb is that if more than half of the buildings on a block are businesses, it’s illegal to ride on the sidewalk.
• Bicycles Must follow all traffic rules.
It is illegal to run a red light on a bike. It’s illegal to run stop signs, too. Bicycles do have to signal their intention to turn for 100 feet prior to doing so. Bicyclists cannot drive the wrong way down a one-way street.
• Bicycles must ride close to the curb.
“Tht doesn’t mean as far to the right as possible, doesn’t mean in the gutter. It does mean they need to respect roadway conditions,” said Kosbab.
The state law requires bicycles to stay to the right, riding “as close as practicable to the right-hand curb or edge of the roadway.” Exceptions include when passing, when preparing for a left turn and when necessary to avoid parked cars and surface hazards.
According to the city of Minneapolis guide to bicycle laws, “Typically this translates to cyclists riding just right of center of the lane that serves their destination.”
• Cars must stay 3 feet away from bicycles.
Essentially, drivers should treat cyclists as slow-moving vehicles. Minnesota law is clear that drivers pass with “in no case less than three feet clearance.
Drivers are also prohibited from driving or parking in bike lanes, and they have to yield to bikes before moving into a bike lane to make a right-hand turn.