Study shows that cyclists skirt laws

A new study regarding cyclists and traffic laws in Minneapolis has shed light on the potential issues that both drivers and cyclists face while commuting, training or recreationally riding.

The study, conducted by Michael Petesch and released on streets.mn, found that 58 percent of the 411 cyclists he observed on 15 highly cycled intersections followed the law and stopped at a stop sign. Moreover, the study also found that cyclists at intersections including “sharrows or bike boulevards had the worst and second-worst compliance rates.”

Some have argued that cyclists should be able to slowly roll stop signs if no one is around. Likewise, if there is a red light, a cyclist can treat it like a stop sign, but must yield to traffic if there are others there. One study found that after instating this rule, known as the Idaho stop, injuries at intersections actually dropped.

However, six of the 15 intersections Petesch used were listed within the top 33 intersections for most bicycle-vehicle crashes from 2000 to 2010.

While we urge all cyclists to follow Minnesota’s bicycling laws, Petesch’s findings suggest that more can be done to boost the traffic law adherence. Bicycle-specific traffic lights and signs, as well as utilizing “scramble signals” in an effort to prioritize bicyclists have been shown to increase compliance.

Solutions are available, and as Minneapolis decides whether to increase the number of protected bike lanes in the city’s core, we hope policymakers take the best scientific findings into consideration.