Five things you might not know about Minnesota bicycle rules

Justin Horwath

Our October 7 editorial argued the University needs to establish consistent, clear and reasonable rules for cyclists on campus. Since then, letters to the editor and e-mails have been filling up our inboxes, and we thought it’d be useful to publish some of the research that went into the editorial.

  1. Minnesota State Rep. Phyllis Kahn, a DFLer whose district 59b includes the University, has proposed legislation in Minnesota that emulates Idaho’s unique “Rolling Stop Law,” which allows cyclists to legally treat all stop signs as yield signs. However, in an e-mail, Rep. Kahn told us that lots of groups—including some cycling advocates—are “hostile to the concept.”
  2. Bike lights are mandatory at night, and even have to conform by law to the standard color configuration: white in front, red in back.
  3. Cyclists are required by law to ride “as close as practicable to the right-hand curb or edge of the roadway,” except in special circumstances. That means that bold middle-of-the-lane cyclists are generally riding against the letter of the law.
  4. It’s legal to ride on sidewalks in Minnesota—but not in “business districts,” and it’s also against University of Minnesota rules to do it on campus.
  5. As of April 2010, bicyclists can legally treat a red light as a yield sign if it doesn’t change for an unreasonable amount of time (i.e., is broken or activated by a pressure sensor.) This provision is also thanks to Rep. Kahn.

 For further reading, here are minor links to Minnesota state bike laws, plus local variations for Minneapolis, St. Paul and the University.

In other cycling news, we’re pleased to learn that Minneapolis recently approved funds for a bicycle trail connecting campus to downtown Minneapolis.