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ASK A TROOPER: Bicyclists: Riding with traffic the way to go

I read an article a few months ago that said that most bicycle accidents happen while riding with traffic. I feel safest while facing traffic. I think that it is a shame that the law has us riding so I can’t see behind me. How did they ever come up with this law? Please talk about bicycle safety as well.

The reason that most bicyclists are getting in crashes while riding with traffic is because most bicyclists are riding “with” traffic. As a simple comparison, the reason most fisherman drown in lakes rather than streams or other bodies of water is because that is where most of them fish.

Also, you should note that “most” indicates that at least some bicyclists are getting killed because they are doing other things, such as riding against traffic (unlawfully) or crossing streets or highways. Statistics need to be examined and used accurately to avoid confusion and to relay the truth.

How did this law of riding with traffic come about? I’m not sure, but we want all traffic to be going the same direction (except pedestrians). It is highly possible that before they had this law, too many crashes were happening and they wanted to cut down on them.  

As of the writing of this article, we have had four pedestrian fatalities so far this year in Minnesota, compared to 10 at this time last year. We have had no motorcyclist or bicyclist fatalities yet this year. Since 2002, Minnesota has seen about 73 bicyclist fatalities.

To be safe, keep bicycles off roads whenever possible, use bike paths or trails and obey all traffic rules and laws. Also, wear a helmet, use a headlight at night and wear light-colored or reflective clothing. Using rear-view mirrors on your bicycle is a great idea, too, for seeing traffic coming up behind you. And pay attention at all times and never let your guard down.

IF YOU HAVE any questions for future columns concerning motor vehicle traffic in Minnesota, send your questions to “Ask a Trooper,” c/o Sgt. Curt S. Mowers, MN State Patrol, P.O. Box 644 Brainerd, MN 56401. Questions are edited.

Becca Clemens
After graduating high school in 2004, I attended Central Lakes College in Staples, MN for 2 years where I got a diploma in Communication Art and Design. I then transfered up to Bemidji State University in, you guessed it, Bemidji, MN. In the spring of 2009, I graduated from BSU. Then in the fall of 2009 I got a job at Echo Publishing, a sister company to the Brainerd Dispatch.