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Editorial: Cyclists, motorists must share road

Spring is finally here and that means it's time to get out the bicycles and pump up the tires. We're fortunate to live in an area with ample trails and roads for scenic cycling.

Spring is finally here and that means it's time to get out the bicycles and pump up the tires. We're fortunate to live in an area with ample trails and roads for scenic cycling.

We need to make sure we ride our bicycles safely, though. And those of us driving vehicles also need to be aware of cyclists.

The Minnesota Department of Transportation and the State Nonmotorized Transportation Advisory Committee have joined together to work on eliminating deaths and reducing injuries due to bicycle-motor vehicle collisions.

The program, called the Minnesota Share the Road Bicycle Safety Education Program, is based on the recognition that bicyclists and motorists are equally responsible for bicycle safety.

The following rules of the road are offered by the Share the Road program.

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  • Bicyclists may ride on all Minnesota roads, except where restricted. According to Minnesota law, bicycles have the right to operate on all Minnesota streets, roads and highways, except where restricted.

Bicyclists have all the same rights as all other vehicles. They may operate in a traffic lane, for example, except when a designated bike lane is present. Bicyclists also have all the same responsibilities as drivers of all other vehicles.

  • Bicyclists should ride on the road, and must ride in the same direction as traffic. It is illegal and unsafe for bicyclists to ride against (facing) traffic. Motorists do not expect, and therefore are often unable to see, bicyclists riding on the wrong side of the road.
  • Motorists must at all times maintain a three-foot clearance when passing a bicycle. Bicyclists also are encouraged to maintain a three-foot clearance from any motor vehicle, even when riding past a parked car or cars. This is in order to avoid an accident when a motorist opens the door of a freshly parked vehicle.
  • Bicyclists must obey all traffic control signs and signals, the same as motorists.

Among the most common causes of bicycle-motor vehicle collisions is the failure of bicyclists to yield the right-of-way or to obey a traffic control sign or signal. Bicyclists are obligated to obey the same Minnesota laws that regulate all other vehicles including motor vehicles.

  • Motorists and bicyclists must yield the right-of-way to each other equally.

Another leading cause of bicycle-motor vehicle collisions is the failure of motorists to yield the right-of-way to a bicyclist, whether at an intersection or along a roadway.

  • Bicyclists must signal their turns and should ride in a predictable manner. Bicyclists should always ride in a predictable manner. This means riding in a more or less straight line, avoiding abrupt swerving motions.
  • Bicyclists must use a headlight and rear reflectors when it's dark. To increase visibility, add a rear flashing light. Wear light colored clothing that is retro-reflective.
  • Bicyclists should always were helmets.

So, have fun cycling this summer and enjoying the outdoors but also be careful. This goes for drivers too.

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