Minnesota Driver’s Manual

Sharing the Road with Bicyclists (pgs. 46-47)

Bicycles are legal vehicles on Minnesota roads, and they share the same rights and responsibilities as other vehicles.

Bicycle lanes are designed to separate bicycle traffic from normal vehicle traffic. It is illegal to drive in these lanes except to park, when permitted, to enter or leave the road, or to prepare for a turn. Before crossing a bicycle lane, make sure it is safe to do so. Yield the right-of-way to approaching bicyclists. When the bicycle lane is clear, signal your intention to turn and then move into the bicycle lane before making the turn.

Use caution when passing a bicyclist. When passing, the law requires at least three feet between the side of your car and the bicyclist. When passing a bicyclist, make sure the bicyclist is not signaling or making a left turn. When passing a bicyclist, a driver is allowed to cross the center of the roadway even when marked as a no passing zone when it is safe to do so.

Bicycle Laws

Bicycle riders are required to obey all traffic laws.

• Bicyclists must ride in the same direction as the flow of traffic, not against it.

• Bicyclists must signal all turns and obey all traffic control signs/signals and       devices.

• Bicyclists use the same hand and arm signals as other drivers use but they may also hold their right arm straight out to indicate a right turn.

• Bicyclists should travel just to the right of faster moving traffic. However, certain hazards such as rough surfaces, debris, drainage grates or a narrow traffic lane may require bicyclists to move toward the center of the lane. Bicyclists may also move out in the lane when passing another vehicle or when making a left turn.

• Bicyclists are allowed to ride two abreast as long as they do not impede traffic, and when on a laned roadway, must ride within a single lane.

• Bicyclists are encouraged to wear helmets.

• Bicyclists are required to be equipped with legal lights and reflectors when riding at night. A bicycle may be equipped with a front lamp that emits a white flashing signal, or a rear lamp that emits a red flashing signal, or both.

• A bicycle may be equipped with tires having studs, spikes, or other protuberances designed to increase traction.

When riding a bicycle on a sidewalk, or across a roadway on a crosswalk, yield the right of way to pedestrians and give an audible signal before passing them. You may not ride a bicycle on a sidewalk within a business district, unless permitted by local authorities. Local authorities may also prohibit bicyclists from riding on any sidewalk or crosswalk. Bicyclists operating a bicycle on a sidewalk or crosswalk have all the rights and duties of pedestrians.

In 2010, the Minnesota legislature amended a law to address instances when two-wheeled vehicles are not detected by control systems at traffic lights, and a signal change does not occur. The law gives bicyclists the option to proceed through the intersection after a reasonable amount of time and provides an affirmative legal defense 47 Sharing the Road Minnesota Driver’s Manual to this action, based on five conditions:

• The bicycle has been brought to a complete stop.

• The traffic-control signal continues to show a red light for an unreasonable time. • The traffic-control signal is apparently malfunctioning or, if programmed to change to a green light only after detecting the approach of a motor vehicle, the signal has apparently failed to detect the bicycle.

• No vehicle or person is approaching on the roadway to be crossed or entered, or

• Approaching vehicles or persons are so far away that they do not constitute an immediate hazard.

The affirmative defense applies only to an alleged violation for entering or crossing an intersection controlled by a traffic-control signal against a red light. It does not provide a defense to any other civil or criminal action. Bicyclists can be difficult to spot in traffic. Watch for them in intersections, on sidewalks, and when you enter or leave alleys and driveways. Watch for bicycle traffic at night.

Motorized Bicycles

A “motorized bicycle” is defined by its speed capacity; it is capable of traveling at speeds of 30 mph or less. Rules that apply to bicycle riding generally apply to motorized bicycles. Motorized bicycles are not allowed on sidewalks, freeways, or lanes and trails designated for pedestrians and bicycles.

Watch for Pedestrians (pg. 45)

Whether you are driving on busy city streets, in rural towns or on highways, stay alert for pedestrians. Yield the right-of-way to pedestrians crossing at intersections and crosswalks. Watch for pedestrians on roads where cars are parked, during times of poor visibility, and whenever children are present. If a pedestrian is in a marked or unmarked crosswalk, stop and wait until the pedestrian has passed your lane. Watch for blind pedestrians who may be carrying a white or metallic cane or using a guide dog. If a blind pedestrian is waiting at a crosswalk, do not use your horn or rev your engine as this may distract the pedestrian or guide dog. It is illegal to pass another vehicle that has stopped for a pedestrian. If another vehicle has stopped, look for pedestrians that are in the crosswalk and be prepared to stop. A violation of pedestrian right-of-way laws is a misdemeanor. A second violation of these laws within a year is a gross misdemeanor. Crosswalks Marked crosswalks have solid white lines on the road and have road signs or flashing lights to warn you that you are approaching a crosswalk. Unmarked crosswalks are areas where a road intersects a sidewalk and there are no solid lines painted on the road. When stopping at a marked or unmarked crosswalk, do not block the crosswalk with your vehicle. As a pedestrian, obey the traffic laws designed to keep you safe and help drivers see you.

• Obey traffic control signals at intersections. Stay a few feet back from the road when waiting for the WALK signal.

• Yield the right-of-way to vehicles within the intersection at the time the WALK signal is activated.

• Make your intention to cross clear, make eye contact with the driver and ensure the driver is yielding the right-of-way to you before proceeding.

• Use sidewalks when they are available and in usable condition.

• When crossing a road with no crosswalks, yield to all vehicles on the road.

• Stay out of traffic lanes, when possible, and make way for traffic on the road.

• If it is necessary to walk on the road, stay on the left side, or face oncoming traffic.

When walking at night, or in poor visibility conditions, wear light-colored clothing trimmed with reflective material or carry a flashlight to help drivers see you. Be prepared to avoid drivers who do not see you. Pedestrians have the right-of-way within intersections and crosswalks, but motorists may not see you in time to stop. Even in normal weather conditions, glare from the sun and other factors can make it difficult for drivers to see the road ahead and to spot pedestrians in time to stop.

Minnesota State Statutes for Bicyclists and Pedestrians (General Overview)

Bicyclist Statutes:  Click on Bicyclists

Pedestrian Statutes:  Click on Pedestrians.  Scroll down to Pedestrians section, 169.202.  See also, 256C.03.