Riding a bicycle: a great way to save on gas, get some exercise, or enjoy a beautiful day.
Bicyclists have the same rights (and responsibilities) as any other motor vehicle to be on the roadways. However, roadways can be very hazardous places for bicyclists. Bicycles are harder to see than motor vehicles. Many motorists simply do not look for bicycles on the roads or in intersections.
Unfortunately, some motorists may resent, or be outright hostile to bicyclists, oftentimes because they see cyclists fail to stop for stop signs or otherwise fail to follow normal rules of the road. Such motorists may be unforgiving of bicyclists, failing to take into consideration problems with stopping a bicycle suddenly or remaining upright after a quick stop.
Nearly one-thousand bicyclists are injured by a motor vehicle each year in Minnesota. Failure to yield the right of way is the most often cited contributing factor for both bicyclists and motorists in such accidents. Bicycle fatalities occurred more frequently in urban areas, between the hours of 5 p.m. and 9 p.m. Not surprisingly, the majority of fatalities occur during the warmer months, between June and September. Interestingly, nearly two-thirds of all bicycle crash fatalities occur at non-intersection locations.
Bicycle injury cases in Minnesota are governed by statutes of limitations which govern whether and how formal notice of claim must be given, when and how claims must be handled or otherwise be barred. If the injured victim is a minor, the statute of limitations runs until the child’s 19th birthday. It is important to consult with a knowledgeable attorney as quickly as possible to take action as soon as possible to preserve evidence, contact witnesses, and ensure that your rights are protected.
Tips for Drivers
- Share the road with cyclists.
Allow at least 3 feet clearance when passing a bicyclist on the road.
- Look before opening your doors.
This is especially important if you are doing so on a roadway.
- Yield at intersections.
Obey traffic signals.
- Look before making a turn.
Tips for Bicycle Safety on the Road
- Always wear a helmet. Head injuries are the most common serious injuries among cyclists. You should also invest in a mirror that can be attached to your helmet, glasses, or handlebars.
- Make sure your equipment is safe and well-maintained. This includes properly inflating tires, functioning brakes, etc.
- Wear bright clothes and reflective gear. This is especially important if riding in times of darkness. If riding at night, Minnesota law requires you to have a lamp attached to your bike or your person that emits a white light that is visible from a distance of at least 500 feet, and your bike must also have a red reflector on the rear.
- Obey traffic laws. Not only are cyclists legally required to do so, but it also helps to ensure the predictability of everyone on the road.
- Be vigilant as you approach intersections. Be sure to use extreme caution when approaching an intersection, even if you have the green light, turning cars may not be looking for cyclists. Avoid riding next to a car as you enter an intersection, if that vehicle suddenly turns, other vehicles may assume the intersection is clear and fail to see you. Yield to pedestrians.
- Ride on the right-hand side of the road (ride with traffic).
- Keep your hands on your handlebars at all times. This will allow you take immediate evasive action should the need arise.
- Keep a lookout for opening car doors.
- Try to take the least-traveled roads.
- Be very careful when crossing a multi-lane road in front of traffic which has stopped for you. Vehicles following the vehicle(s) which has or have stopped for you may wrongly interpret that the stopped vehicle intends to turn left and may pull around them, believing the intersection is otherwise clear.
- See Minn. Stat. 169.222 Operation of a Bicycle for a most comprehensive overview of bicycle laws in Minnesota.