MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Summer is the busy season for cars and bikes to share the road.

It’s also the time viewers email WCCO accusing each other of not properly following the rules. So, what are the laws for the road for bicycles? Good Question.

“A person riding their bike in the street should follow the rules of the road just like any other vehicle,” says CJ Lindor, an education specialist with Bicycle Alliance of Minnesota.

That means bicycles are required to stop at stop signs and red lights. It also means bicyclists can ride in the road.

“I think one thing drivers don’t understand is where cyclists can and should drive on the street,” said Lindor.

According to Minnesota state law, cyclists are not required to ride in bike lanes. If they choose to ride in the road, they “shall ride as close as practicable to the right-hand curb or edge of the roadway.” The law also lays out a number of conditions where that’s not always possible, including passing, taking left turns and reasonably avoiding unsafe conditions.

The Bicycle Alliance actually encourages cyclists to ride in the center of the lane to offer more visibility to the drivers in front of and behind them.  There is no minimum speed for a cyclist on the road.

Cars can pass cyclists the same way they’d pass any other moving vehicle, which means yielding and waiting until it’s clear to move around. They have to give the cyclists at least three feet of space.

“Most of the time that will mean they need to go into the incoming lane to allow for that amount of space,” said Lindor.

Lindor says he encourages cyclists to ride next to each other in the road – as long as there are only two – because that makes it easier for a car to pass.

Lights are required at night – a white one in the front and a reflective red one in the back. Sidewalks are off-limits in commercial areas. Signaling a turn is a must, as long as it’s safe to take a cyclist’s hands off the handlebar.

“Both motorists and cyclists have a lot of responsibility for safety,” said Lindor.

For more detailed information on the bike laws in Minnesota, the Bicycle Alliance publishes a handbook available at their website.

Heather Brown

Comments (6)
  1. Colin Olson says:

    I love how even though the law clearly states “…as close as practicable to the right-hand curb…” the Bicycle Alliance tells their riders to ignore the law and ride in the middle and two abreast.

  2. Jennifer C. says:

    Cyclists should be riding single file, not two abreast, espeically when they are riding in a pack. If they want to chat they can stop for coffee. I am a cyclist as well as a driver.

    1. Steve Berns says:

      The reasoning is that it will be twice as fast to pass 2 cyclists riding side by side instead of one behind the other. You most likely need to go over to the oncoming lane to pass even one cyclist, so why not pass two at one time? That is accomplished when the cyclists are riding side by side.

  3. As a point of clarification, “lights” are not required – only one light, a front white light. There is no requirement of a rear light, only a rear red reflector.

    1. A rear light may not be required, but it’s not smart to ride without one after dark. I turn mine on on cloudy days, the last hour or so before sunset, and if I’m riding in-and-out of heavily shaded areas on sunny days!