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ASK A TROOPER: Bicycle safety issues

Question: I was riding my bicycle and a car almost hit me because they didn’t give me the right of way. I have been cut off, flipped off and almost hit numerous times. It is getting worse and things need to change. So, can you please talk about bicycle safety?

Answer: Wow, I am glad you are OK. I have recently heard numerous reports similar to yours and I agree that this is a problem. Motorists who may encounter bicyclists need to know that according to M.S.S. 169.222, bicyclists have all the rights and duties as other vehicle operators (except the ones that by nature don’t apply to bikes). That law also says that a motor vehicle overtaking a bicycle (or an individual) proceeding in the same direction on the roadway shall leave a safe distance, but in no case less than three feet clearance, when passing the bicycle (or individual) and shall maintain clearance until safely past the overtaken bicycle or individual.

For the good of the cause, I think that we need to educate the person on the bicycle as well as the other motorists. A lot of bicyclists fail to obey the rules of the road, especially in smaller communities. Some of the laws for bicyclists include: Only one person can ride on a bike (except ones with baby seat properly affixed), they can’t cling to a vehicle, they have to ride as close as practicable to the right-hand curb or edge of the roadway (unless passing, preparing for a left turn, to avoid objects on road, etc.), bicyclists have to travel in the same direction as adjacent vehicular traffic when riding on a shoulder or lane of traffic, they can ride no more than two abreast and ride within a single lane on a “laned” highway.

Bicyclists also have to yield to pedestrians and give an audible warning if passing a pedestrian on a sidewalk, across a roadway or shoulder on a crosswalk. They also can’t carry packages, bundles or other articles which prevent the operator from having at least one hand on the handle bars or from operating the brakes of the bicycle. There are many other laws but for now I will end the bicycle rules by saying that bicycles have to display lights and reflectors and night, signal turns at least 100 feet ahead, and the bike has to be equipped with adequate brakes. Minnesota does not have helmet law for bicyclists, although there may be some ordinances in larger cities about helmets. Of course, we highly recommend wearing a good fitting quality helmet when riding a bicycle, as well as wearing light colored or reflective clothing at night, with the proper lighting and away from vehicle traffic as much as possible.

I hope this article helps. It does not contain all there is to know, but it is a good start by bringing it to the attention of everyone, so thanks for asking.

If you have any questions for future columns concerning motor vehicle traffic in Minnesota, please send your questions to: “ASK A TROOPER” c/o Sgt. Curt S. Mowers MN State Patrol P.O. Box 644 Brainerd, MN 56401 or email questions to with Ask A Trooper in the subject line. Questions are edited.