Sharing the road is key to safety

by Jessica Steeno

Biking near the University, one of the most congested traffic areas in the state, can be much safer if motorists and bicyclists adhere to some simple rules of the road.
“Bicyclists are responsible for all the rules of the road the same as a motor vehicle would be,” said University Police Sgt. Joe May.
“They should stay in the bike lane and go at a reasonable speed so they have time to react. If they adhere to traffic laws, they’re way ahead of the game.”
Bicyclists should follow the flow of traffic, according to a pamphlet prepared by the City of Minneapolis Department of Public Works. Minnesota law states cyclists should ride as close to the right side of the road as possible.
But there are several instances when cyclists should leave a bike lane or the right side of the road. When passing another vehicle going in the same direction, cyclists should go around it on the left side. Cyclists making left turns should use the left side of the roadway, just as motorists would.
The only other time cyclists should leave the right side of the road is when obstructions block the way. Then cyclists should ride inside the traffic lanes along with the cars.
Although bicycles and motorists are supposed to share the road, sometimes that does not happen.
Thomas Wald, a physics major and avid bicyclist, has been in several accidents with motorists.
This past summer a car hit the back tire of Wald’s bicycle as he used a bike lane to cross an intersection.
“Sometimes motorists just don’t want you on the road,” Wald said. “Motorists need to learn to treat bicyclists like just another vehicle on the road.”
Cyclists must obey some of the same road rules as motorists, like yielding to pedestrians and obeying traffic signals.
If cyclists ride after dark, their bicycles must have headlights, taillights, and reflectors. Cyclists should also wear light-colored clothing to make themselves more visible to motorists.
A special consideration for bicyclists, May said, is checking to make sure their bicycles’ front wheels are securely attached.
If the front tire is not correctly bolted, it can loosen and fall off while the bicycle is moving. May said these accidents usually result in facial injuries.