8/26/2008

From the MPLS City Web Page

More people in Minneapolis take to the streets and trails on bicycles during summer – recent estimates indicate a 30 percent jump in the number of bikes on the street over last year. This year the cost of gasoline has made biking to work and biking for fun more attractive than ever. With more people on bikes on our City streets and trails, it’s really important to separate truth from myth when it comes to bike safety and laws.  Some biking accidents can be avoided when you know the facts.  Here are seven common myths about bike safety and laws—dispelled!

MYTH:  Bikes must use the right lane on the road.  
FACT:
Cyclists are required to stay to the right in most cases, but may ride in the lane that is appropriate to their destination. That means bikes may use the left lane to turn left, to pass, and to avoid road hazards or parked cars.

MYTH:  Bikes don’t have to stop for traffic lights or stop signs.  
FACT:
Cyclists are responsible for following all traffic laws on the road and on trails, including signaling for turns, stopping for lights and stop signs, using headlights and rear reflectors, and yielding to pedestrians at corners and crosswalks.

MYTH:  Cars have the right of way at crossings. 
FACT:
Both drivers and cyclists are required to follow all signs and pavement markings at each trail crossing.  Cars have to stop for a bicyclist or pedestrian in a trail crossing. 

MYTH:  Bicyclists have to ride in the bike lane, or on a trail when provided. 
FACT:
Cyclists do not have to ride in a bike lane if it is not safe due to surface hazards and parked cars.  Cyclists also do not have to ride on trails.  Most Minneapolis trails have a speed limit of 10 mph.  As a result, many bicyclists who want to travel faster use the road.

MYTH:  Cars can drive as close as possible to a bike lane without entering it. 
FACT
: Passing cars must provide a minimum of three feet clearance from a bike at all times even when a bicyclist is in a designated bike lane.

MYTH:  Bikes must use the street. 
FACT:
Cyclists may ride on sidewalks except in business districts or where posted.  Studies have shown that it is often safer to ride on the street.

MYTH:  Bikes and pedestrians don’t mix.  
FACT:
It’s easy for cyclists and pedestrians to share trails and sidewalks when everyone is respectful. Cyclists should slow down when passing pedestrians. Bicyclists, be sure to give a polite warning and pass on the left with as much clearance as possible.  Pedestrians should stay or move to the right when being passed or use a designated pedestrian path when available.

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