The Free Press, Mankato, MN

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October 27, 2013

Bicyclists, motorists both must share road

Bicycling is on the rise nationally and in Minnesota. This is true for Mankato as well.

On a recent rainy day, the annual River Ramble attracted 1,400 riders of all ages. The newly formed Mankato Area Mountain Bikers are building mountain biking trails at a rapid clip. There also appears to be an increase in destination riders in Mankato — students biking to school, commuters biking to work, and shoppers biking to the store. These destination riders are more likely to be found on city streets, although many recreational riders also use streets, county roads, and highways. And while it may seem that we are approaching the end of the biking season, some recreational and destination riders will continue biking through the fall and into the winter.

Given these trends and conditions, the potential for conflict between motorist and bicyclists may also be on the rise. Thus, the time seems right for some review of the legal rights and responsibilities of motorists and bicyclists in Minnesota and Mankato.

Here are 10 things for motorists and bicyclists to remember:

1. With very few exceptions bicyclists must follow the same laws as motor vehicle drivers. An example of an exception is that it is legal for a bike to stop and then proceed through a red light under certain circumstances. (http://www.dot.state.mn.us/bike/pdfs/MN-BIKE-LAW-CARD.pdf)

2. With very few exceptions, bicyclists have the same right to a street, road, or highway as a motor vehicle.

3. Motorists must allow a safe distance when passing a bicyclist. This is generally interpreted as 3 feet. There are situations where a bicyclist must “take control of the lane” to travel safely. This may require a motorist to slow down and wait until it is safe to pass.

4. Bicyclists should ride in the same direction as traffic.

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