Be safe around bikes

Last weekend, while biking through the Southeast Como neighborhood, I was involved in a hit-and-run collision with a Comcast service van. As I was riding in the bike lane alongside the van, we reached an intersection and the van turned to the right, hitting me and my bicycle. Having a heavy vehicle hit your approximately 25-pound bicycle is a terrifying experience. Even more upsetting was the fact that the driver didn’t stop afterward. Thankfully, I was not injured and my bicycle was damaged, but still useable.

Even days after I reported the event to the police and to Comcast, the cable company has consistently failed to appropriately address this situation or even return my calls. Anyone who has ever dealt with Comcast will tell you that trying to resolve an issue with them can be a frustrating or even futile process. Eventually, I decided to contact University Student Legal Services for help pursuing this matter. The minor damage may not seem worth all the trouble, but what if I had been seriously injured? What if the Comcast driver continues to put others in danger? Will anyone see punishment for violating traffic laws and damaging my property?

Unfortunately, my experience is not unique, and collisions between bikes and cars occur far too often. A comprehensive study done by the City of Minneapolis reported that of the nearly 3,000 cyclist-motorist crashes that occurred between 2000 and 2010, about 20 percent were hit-and-runs. The vast majority of those who fled were drivers.

According to Minnesota law, bicycles are held to the same standards as motor vehicles in most cases. This means that cyclists must ride predictably and obey all traffic rules, but it also means that cyclists are entitled to the same compensation in the event of a collision. I urge both cyclists and motorists to become familiar with their rights and duties when sharing the roads. Safety is everyone’s concern.