The Rules of the Road

DSC03341It can be hard to figure out what the hell you should be doing out there in the vast wilderness of traffic. People get angry about pretty much every behavior. Someone will get mad at you for following the law precisely, while someone else gets mad that you harmlessly break the law. Car-driving commenters love to rail about how bikers break the law and use that as an argument for why we shouldn’t invest in bike infrastructure or encourage cycling. Bike-riding commenters complain about drivers parking in the bike lane or pedestrians walking on bike paths. It’s all a hot mess. To help bring some clarity to the conversation, here are critical rules and behaviors for navigating urban streets no matter what mode you’re using. Some of these rules are not actually legal, so follow them at your own risk.

Bikers

  • Idaho stop: The Idaho stop is a law which allows bikers to treat stop signs as yield signs and red lights as stop signs. I advocate for this approach, since it helps people biking establish themselves in the road. The authors of one study stated “stopping discourages bicycling, substantially increasing time, energy expenditure, discomfort, risk of collisions and risk for strain and overuse injuries.” They went on to write that, “Bicyclists enjoy vastly superior abilities to perceive and execute a safe yield at a stop than other modes, and great incentive to do so safely.” The study found that bicycle injuries decreased by 14.5% the year after the law was implemented. Whether or not the Idaho stop is officially canonized into law, we shouldn’t ticket bicyclists for running red lights or failing to stop at stop signs when this behavior can improve their safety and comfort. This is not a full license to blow through a red light. But if you come to a stop (or significantly slow down even if you don’t put your foot on the ground), look both ways, and make sure it’s safe to proceed, then go ahead.
  • Don’t bike fast like a jerk: If it’s a Saturday afternoon and you wanna cruise 25mph down the Greenway unimpeded, just stop. That’s not going to happen. If you try to zip down the Greenway and get frustrated every time someone is in your way, it’s your own fault for having unrealistic expectations. If you want to bike fast and unimpeded, bike in the street with the cars. You do not own the path any more than anyone else. This means that if you yell, “On your left,” from two blocks away and people don’t hear you, you’ll have to slow down, repeat yourself, and pass once they move over.
  • Biking on the sidewalk: Biking on the sidewalk is dangerous. A study in Minneapolis by Bike Walk Twin Cities found that 39% of motorist-bicyclist crashes occurred when bikers were entering traffic from a sidewalk. Sidewalk biking may feel safer to you, but it’s actually one of the most dangerous things to do on a bike. If you’re afraid of biking in heavy traffic, find quiet side streets to bike on. For example, in my neighborhood many people bike on sidewalks along Lyndale Avenue to avoid heavy car traffic. If they biked just one or two blocks off Lyndale in either direction, they’d find quiet side streets where there’s less traffic and slower moving vehicles. This is a better option than sidewalk biking. If you insist on sidewalk biking, realize that it’s your responsibility to yield to pedestrians, to take extra caution at all intersections, and to be aware of your surroundings.
  • Don’t pass on the right: There is no need to pass on the right. Other bikers aren’t expecting you there and if they’re about to turn right, they’re going to turn right into you causing both of you to crash. If you’re trying to pass on the right because it’s not clear to pass on the left, that means it’s not clear to pass at all. Just wait a second already!

Drivers

  • Slow down: Speed is dangerous. Driving faster increases the likelihood that you will kill a person walking or biking if you hit them. If you’re driving at 20mph and hit someone, the chance that they’ll die from their injuries is 5%. If you’re driving 40mph and hit someone, the chance that they’ll die from their injuries sky rockets to 85%. If you’re in a crowded pedestrian area or on a residential street, 25mph is plenty. Driving slower means you’ll have more time to respond to someone in the street and will be less likely to seriously injure or kill someone if you do hit them.
  • Stop for pedestrians and bikers: Did you know that in Minnesota, walkers have the right of way at every corner? Every corner where two roads come together is an unmarked crosswalk, which means you should be stopping when you see someone waiting or starting to cross. It’s a law that most drivers ignore and most pedestrians are too afraid to take advantage of, so the norm is that drivers don’t stop at unmarked crosswalks and barely stop at marked ones. You can and should change this norm by respecting walkers and bikers who are trying to cross the road.
  • Move over: If you are passing someone on a bike, you must give at least three feet when overtaking them. This is to avoid sideswiping them or hitting them if they swerve to avoid debris in the road. This is not a simple courtesy, it is a matter of life and death. You will probably have to cross the center line to pass a cyclist safely, and that is okay. If you can’t change lanes or there’s oncoming traffic that prevents you from crossing the center line, then just wait. It’s common sense. Don’t put someone else’s life at risk just because you’re impatient.
  • Don’t honk, seriously: It’s loud. Honking is illegal unless you’re in imminent danger. Honking is scary for people outside of a vehicle. If you’re honking at a person on a bike, you might cause them to lose their balance and fall over right in front of you. Just don’t do it.
  • Don’t give up your right-of-way: I know you’re trying to be nice when you give up your right-of-way and wave a biker through a stop sign, but you’re making things worse. Imagine being at an intersection where another vehicle has clearly gotten there first, as often happens to me when I’m on my bike. I sit and wait for them to go. They sit and wait for me to go because I’m on a bike, and they’re confused or trying to be courteous. Sometimes they’re waving me through, but often I can’t see the driver due to windshield glare. Then after we’ve been stuck in a stalemate for far too long, I eventually go. If drivers would just go in the correct order, we’d avoid a stalemate and I might not even have to put down my foot because I’d be able to time my approach to the intersection to arrive after the car has proceeded through.
  • Right turn on red: Right turn on red is dangerous, many pedestrians are hit, injured, and killed this way because drivers only look to the left to ensure they are safe to move into traffic and do not look to the right to avoid hitting pedestrians in the crosswalk. If you’re going to turn right on red, do not move into a crosswalk until you’re pretty certain you can move out of it quickly. Before turning right into traffic make sure you look right to ensure you’re not going to run over a pedestrian. If you don’t have a clear sight line to oncoming traffic, or would have to block a crosswalk for a significant period of time to get one, just wait. Red lights don’t last that long.
  • Don’t park in the bike lane: The bike lane is not there for you to park in. There is no excuse for parking in a bike lane ever. Figure out some other place to stop or park your car that is not endangering the safety of bikers.

Pedestrians

  • Don’t walk on bike paths: If there’s a bike path and a walking path and you’d prefer to walk on the bike path, just stop. The reason there’s a bike path is so people can ride their bikes on it; the reason there’s a walking path is so people can walk on it. These are two different groups that move at different speeds, it makes sense to keep them separated. In the winter when walking paths aren’t plowed, the bike paths essentially become shared use paths, so see below.
  • When you’re walking on shared use paths, stay right and stay alert: It’s great that you’re out walking your dog, but other people want to use the path too. Don’t take up the whole thing because your dog’s leash is way too long and he’s curious about those smells over there. Pay attention to your surroundings. If you’re on a shared use path, stay to the right and stay alert. Be ready to move over when people jogging, rollerblading, or biking want to pass you. It’s only polite.
  • When someone says “On your left” trust that they’re passing on your left: This means you need to know left from right and be ready to move over if someone’s coming. Please pay attention.

Everyone

  • Don’t use your phone while you’re moving: Even if you’re walking. Pay attention to where you’re going. If you must use your phone, pull over to the side of the road or walk over to an unused part of the sidewalk. Don’t block traffic, watch where you’re going, and avoid hurting or killing people.
  • Be courteous and patient: No matter how many people behave well, there will always be a contingent of people who are gonna act like assholes. Accept this. Don’t go fuming into a rage anytime someone on a bike blows through a red light. They’re one person, they’re not an ambassador for everyone who rides bikes. If a walker on the bike path is taking up all the space and not paying attention, realize that it’s not a personal affront against you or a reason to treat other walkers like enemies. If a driver cuts you off, try to let it go without escalating the situation or cutting off the next driver you see. There are lots of careless mistakes that happen in moments of confusion, they’ve happened to me and they’ve happened to you. The best we can do for ourselves and for others in our community is to assume that other people are just trying to get somewhere doing the best job they can.

This post originally appeared on Biking in Mpls.


Streets.mn is a non-profit and is volunteer run. We rely on your support to keep the servers running. If you value what you read, please consider becoming a member.

, , , , ,

39 Responses to The Rules of the Road

  1. Jason Goray July 18, 2016 at 10:13 am #

    Great article.

    I’ve got one minor nitpick and one question:

    Nitpick:

    “Honking is scary for people outside of a vehicle.”

    I agree with the primary point here, but I’m going to get a bit semantic on this. I think that the problem is that it is startling rather than it is scary.

    Lots of things are scary to some people and there is no right to not be scared, but being startled can create the problems you talk about, especially swerves and other panic based erratic behavior.

    Since the primary thing needed for traffic safety is predictability, causing erratic behavior is inherently dangerous.

    Question:

    “If there’s a bike path and a walking path and you’d prefer to walk on the bike path, just stop. The reason there’s a bike path is so people can ride their bikes on it; the reason there’s a walking path is so people can walk on it. These are two different groups that move at different speeds, it makes sense to keep them separated.”

    How does this essentially differ from the argument that automobile users make when a cyclist chooses to ride on the road when there is a parallel bicycle path?

    • Stu July 18, 2016 at 10:46 am #

      The Park Board prohibits walkers on bike paths and bicyclists on walking paths. See Park and Rec Board Code Chapter 7.5-3. The City, State, Park Board does not, generally, prohibit bicyclists on streets.

      So why does a cyclist choose to ride on the road and not the parallel bike only path? One, it is legal to do so (again, generally) and two, I, and others like me, are pulling my toddler on that very same path and slowing her/him down.

      Also, some paths have inane road crossings for no apparent reason (looking at you southern half of Minnehaha Park bike path).

      • Jason Goray July 18, 2016 at 11:24 am #

        The prohibition is a pretty strong point, but honestly, I’d like something better than “well, they shouldn’t do it because it’s illegal” because if the only reason not to do something is the law then that suggests a flawed law.

        Re: cyclists choosing to ride on the road because it’s faster (heck, forget about the toddlers, there’s a 10 mph speed limit!), the same argument might be made for joggers or roller bladers preferring the bike path to the stroller packed walking paths.

        If it isn’t reasonable for cars to ban us to the bike paths, why is it reasonable for us to ban joggers & bladers to the pedestrian path (actually, I’m not sure where bladers are restricted to, but hopefully the point is clear).

        FWIW, I don’t completely disagree with the author here. I’m mainly playing devil’s advocate/bringing up points I’ve heard from drivers and haven’t heard strong counterpoints to.

        Also, I note that the word in the article was “walk on the bike path” – maybe that was intentional to mean “people moving slowly” and wasn’t intended to restrict runners, many of whom can actually move at the 10 mph speed limit?

        • Adam Miller
          Adam Miller July 18, 2016 at 12:40 pm #

          I doubt that anyone out running on these paths is keeping up a 6 minutes mile pace.

          • Jason Goray July 18, 2016 at 12:50 pm #

            I disagree as I know personally know a couple of marathoners who can manage a marathon at over 9 mph and run faster during training runs and who regularly run the river. I’m sure they’re not the only ones.

            However, setting those relatively rare athletes aside almost makes the point more strongly.

            For instance, there are some cyclists who are keeping up 25 or 30 mph on roads that are parallel with bike paths, but does that mean that those who are only doing 12 – 20 mph (proportional in a 25 to runners going 6 to 8 mph on a 10 mph path) shouldn’t be able to use the road?

            • Adam Miller
              Adam Miller July 18, 2016 at 2:04 pm #

              Let me put it this way: I’ve never seen a runner who was anywhere near keeping pace with me as I bike along at 10-12 mph.

              As for “shouldn’t be able to”, I’m not exactly sure what that means. People biking 12-15 mph should be on the bike path unless there’s a reason they needed to get off (e.g., lack of curb cut). I’d wouldn’t make them legally prohibited from riding the street, but given that they are not outside the norm of path traffic, they should ride on the path.

              Just like joggers should job in the footpath, because they are much more like foot traffic than bike traffic.

              • Jason Goray July 18, 2016 at 2:19 pm #

                12 – 15 mph is above the legal speed limit for many of Minneapolis’ bike paths.

                Are you sure about your speeds? When I use a speedometer, 10 mph often strikes me as amazingly slow.

                I’m not sure I agree with you about joggers being more like foot traffic than bike traffic. They don’t tend to be nearly as erratic, especially side to side, as much foot traffic and if they’re pushing themselves, they have similar difficulties to bicycles dealing with a sudden change in front of them.

              • Jason Goray July 18, 2016 at 2:36 pm #

                I forgot to answer your question – by “shouldn’t be able to”, I was observing that if it is reasonable for bikes to think that runners going 60 – 80% of bike path speed limits (6 – 8 mph) shouldn’t be there, then it seems like a double standard to insist that cars not complain about cycles going 60 – 80% of road speed (15 – 20 mph in a 25).

                My personal opinion is that it’s hard to mentally adjust for others going less than half or more than double one’s own speed, so I think someone running 7 – 8 mph belongs on the cycle path more than the walking path and that someone cycling 18 – 20 mph belongs on the road more than on the cycle path.

                Speeds more in the 50 – 60% range seem like they’d more subjective depending on the mindset of the cyclist/runner in question.

                In general, I think that the point of everything is to let people get around with as little hassle and as much safety as possible. I think I have trouble with this particular issue as it feels like a double standard.

              • NiMo July 19, 2016 at 9:55 am #

                I’ve been on bike behind running groups who are going 10-11mph (5:30/mi pace). I was very aware of exactly how fast they were going because the 20 or so runners were occupying the full width of both directions of the West River Parkway bike path. I think I’ve come across that same group a few times although not in a while.

                Did a little digging, and there were 746 individuals as best I could tell who completed the 2015 Twin Cities Marathon at a 9mph pace or better. Only a fraction of them are training on the paths, but they are out there!

                • Jason Goray July 19, 2016 at 10:08 am #

                  *heh*

                  You managed to simultaneously support my statement and highlight unreasonable behavior by those who I was suggesting maybe should have access to the bike path.

                  Nicely done.

                  Well, I guess when it comes to public paths and roads, there’s the golden rule “do unto others as you would have them do unto you” which is superseded by the platinum rule “do unto others as they would have you do unto them” which is superseded by what I like to call the rhodium rule “don’t be a jerk”

                  Ah well.

                  • GlowBoy July 19, 2016 at 1:38 pm #

                    As someone who extensively uses Minneapolis’ dual-path system in winter, I’ll point out another area in which these rules are not absolute. Once there’s snow on the ground (or the pedestrian paths are flooded or mud-covered, as they can be in the spring), the system switches to one path being plowed and one path not being plowed.

                    The unplowed paths are used by skiers, snowshoers and fatbikers, while the plowed paths are used by pedestrians and wheeled users. There are a lot more pedestrians than wheels on these paths in the winter, and even as a frequent winter cyclist I don’t mind sharing. The signs aren’t changed over for winter, but everyone seems to know what to do.

                    As for the 10mph speed limit, bear in mind that MPRB held hearings on this last year, and I believe recommended to the city council that the speed limit being abolished for a number of reasons. It’s only really needed on busy summer days when there are lots of people out and the paths get congested. The rest of the time it’s just a stupid impediment to cycling, everyone ignores it, and it’s basically unenforced and unenforceable. It was further pointed out in the hearing that most suburban districts have already abolished their bike-path speed limits for these reasons.

                    So I basically ignore the speed limit unless there are lots of other people out, and when I’m passing someone (especially above 10pm) I audibly let them know I’m coming, and I don’t go 25mph on the creek pathway downhill from Lyndale if there’s someone else there. Basic don’t-be-a-jerk stuff.

                    The 10mph rule is on its way out even if it’s not official yet (and even if it weren’t, I’d be taking an Idaho-stop approach to it because most of the time it’s a stupid rule).

          • Gabe July 22, 2016 at 9:20 pm #

            6 minute mile pace is hardly rare.

      • Janne Flisrand
        Janne July 22, 2016 at 11:43 am #

        Another reason a cyclist might choose the road is because of congestion. Especially on Minnehaha Parkway, the trail is narrow and there is a lot of traffic. It’s surprisingly easy to almost hit someone head-on, it’s often very difficult to pass. Also, there are a surprising number of small children who are doing the wonderful thing of learning to ride or practicing their riding skills. And, that can steer a rider who wishes to keep the children safe to the streets.

    • Lindsey Wallace
      Lindsey Wallace July 18, 2016 at 11:45 am #

      I agree that it is startling, but I think it’s scary too. When someone honks, I assume there is a serious threat nearby. I then need to scan the area quickly to make sure there isn’t, say, a car about to blast through a red light or some other terrible thing about to happen.

      Regarding your other question, I have some thoughts. There are reasons someone would ride their bike in the street rather than on a path. If the rider wants to move quickly with traffic, if the bike path is crowded, if there is debris on the bike path, if the bike path is dark or secluded at night and a cyclist feels safer riding in the street, or if they need to turn onto another road and the bike path doesn’t have curb cuts to allow such movement (ie. like around Cedar Lake). Drivers cannot know the conditions of the bike path or the particular reasons that a cyclist may choose to ride on the street, so ensuring that they have the option to use either makes it safer for the ones who ride on the street for whatever reason. Most of these reasons do not apply to walkers on the bike path when there’s a nearby walking path in similar condition.

      • Jason Goray July 18, 2016 at 12:17 pm #

        *nod* I agree that it can be both startling and scary, but I think it’s the startle and the response that it evokes that’s the fundamental problem. It really is a small nit, though and doesn’t in any way invalidate your point.

        Re: the path, I definitely get the reasons why a cyclist would choose to ride on the road versus a path and I hear your point that some of these reasons don’t exist for walkers wanting to move over to the bike path.

        However, I think that the most direct analogy is this:

        If the walking path is filled by dog walkers and stroller pushers moving at a stroll, a runner’s desire to move over to the bike path where traffic is closer to the speed they’re going seems very similar to a faster cyclist’s desire to move from a bicycle path to the road.

    • Rosa July 18, 2016 at 1:37 pm #

      The parallel bicycle path is probably not equal to the street, either in where it goes, how fast it goes, or how safe it is. Sometimes that’s why pedestrians are in the bike path, and it seems to me that they should use the bike paths then. Runners are a good example – if they’re too fast for the walking path’s other traffic, they should be up in the bike lane

      On the other hand, drivers typically have many options of places they can drive their cars if they don’t want to share with slow traffic, many more than cyclists do if they want to avoid pedestrians. If we had equivalent ways for bikers and pedestrians to get around that matched the facilities aimed mostly or only at drivers, I think our ideas about who gets to use the road would change. Maybe we should build them and see.

      • Jason Goray July 18, 2016 at 1:43 pm #

        Yeah, it always baffles me to see an impatient driver on one of the 25mph parkways or some of the other high-cycle traffic urban streets.

        You’ve got hundreds of other streets to choose from – many of them a mere 1/8 mile from the one you’re on. If you’re in such a hurry, why choose this one?

        It’s a different issue, though. Or, maybe kind of related to other points in the article – like, if you’re a cyclist that wants to do 25 mph on a Saturday and choose the greenway, well, you kind of brought your frustration on yourself.

        • Rosa July 19, 2016 at 12:23 pm #

          Yep. Go ride in the street then! It IS frustrating to always have to dodge around people, go be the underdog.

          But I always lean to the “don’t endanger others” side.

          • Jason Goray July 19, 2016 at 12:39 pm #

            That does seem like a good basic rule.

  2. Matt July 18, 2016 at 10:20 am #

    “Don’t give up your right-of-way” 1000x yes. This drives me crazy as a cyclist. I know drivers are trying to be nice, but it makes them less predictable and ends up slowing me down for exactly the reasons you state. Just follow the rules of the road, and I’ll be able to tell what you’re doing. When you stop following them, you stop being predictable, and it’s bad for everyone.

  3. hokan July 18, 2016 at 11:15 am #

    Quibble: while it’s true that walkers have the right of way at intersections, it is not true that all intersections are crosswalks.

    Unmarked crosswalks exist where a sidewalk is interrupted by a road. If there’s no sidewalk, there’s no crosswalk.

  4. David Markle
    David Markle July 18, 2016 at 12:08 pm #

    It’s my understanding that the two cyclists shown above may be in violation by riding abreast.

    • NiMo July 18, 2016 at 12:44 pm #

      You’re allowed to ride two abreast on the “Roadway” as long as you are not “imped[ing] the normal and reasonable movement of traffic,” so even if they were on a road and not a bike path, they would not necessarily be in violation of state law. Considering “Bicycle Path” has it’s own definition under state law, and there is no prohibition against riding two-up on a bike path, they are fine.

      • Rosa July 18, 2016 at 1:38 pm #

        though if the path is crowded they should probably switch to single file, to be polite.

  5. Justin July 18, 2016 at 1:44 pm #

    Great list. I do wish that these were better enforced, at least in Minneapolis. I’ve complained about the lack of enforcement to my CM and I was told that the MPD just doesn’t really enforce traffic laws. They’ll pull over someone who is being blatantly reckless but don’t really patrol with the intent of enforcing traffic laws. I think this is a serious problem. What’s the point of laws about giving cyclists space or stopping for pedestrians if they’re rarely enforced?

    • Monte Castleman
      Monte Castleman July 18, 2016 at 9:44 pm #

      So it’s bad that St Anthony police are enforcing traffic laws? And it’s bad that Minneapolis police are not enforcing traffic laws?

      • Aaron July 18, 2016 at 10:20 pm #

        Wait are you talking about the fact that Philando Castile was pulled over 50 times? How could that possibly add to this discussion?

      • Justin July 18, 2016 at 11:34 pm #

        Way to make a point of some kind.

        • Monte Castleman
          Monte Castleman July 19, 2016 at 7:07 am #

          Point is a lot of people are going to be unhappy no matter what level of policing there is, and this applies also to things like towns that mainly cite wealthy tourists for speeding as well. So what message are we sending to police? Enforce the law but don’t enforce it too much? Should we equip them with Magic 8 Balls to make a decision whether to pull over a motorist once they witness a violation?

          • Alex Cecchini
            Alex Cecchini July 19, 2016 at 9:12 am #

            There’s a difference between the type of minor violations like tail/head lights out, etc that are used as pretense to pull people over and dangerous moving violations like speeding or blowing red lights. While the situation is complicated with some gray areas, your question comes across more like a ‘gotcha’ to urbanists rather than a helpful addition to the conversation.

            Here’s a long post I made on the forums about the challenges of balancing public safety and equity via enforcement: http://forum.streets.mn/viewtopic.php?f=14&t=1753&p=114625#p114625

            The message we should send to police is to definitely enforce the stuff that endangers people, become better members of the community they serve, work to overcome their racial biases, etc etc. To the extent that land use and transportation design/policy can help them accomplish these things (it’s an admittedly small part!), let’s advocate for those things. Calmer streets by design that reduce the reckless behavior people want ticketed, protected bikeways to reduce the number of potential conflict points with cars, legalizing red light/speeding cameras or other automated enforcement to take away racial bias in stops, etc etc.

            • Monte Castleman
              Monte Castleman July 19, 2016 at 10:22 am #

              It’s not dangerous to be unable to identify a car at night because the tag lights are out? It’s not dangerous to have your visibility reduced because there’s only one headlight? It’s not dangerous for a pedestrian or other motorist to not be able to see if a car is turning because the turn signal is out? So should we just get rid of these laws because they’re not important and we shouldn’t be enforcing them?

              Red light cameras seem to be an excellent idea by the way. As I’ve posted before I believe they could be constitutional if they were treated as an infraction rather than a misdemeanor.

              • GlowBoy July 19, 2016 at 1:47 pm #

                We had red light cameras in Oregon. Lots of the “high-crash” intersections around Portland and Beaverton have them, and I think they have reduced red-light running … at least at the high-profile intersections where they are used.

                I’m not aware of problems in Oregon, but in many states there have been jurisdictions that got caught shortening their signals’ yellow phases so their cameras would catch more people and drive up revenue. Ironic, since my understanding is the private firms who set up the cameras actually get most of the revenue collected.

              • NiMo July 20, 2016 at 11:59 am #

                grew up in DC and had red light cameras and speed cameras. for all the griping people do about them, I think they’re pretty good. I’d rather have better designed streets that discourage law violations than cameras but one option is obviously a lot less involved/expensive than the other when it comes to reducing red light running and speeding.

                The other notable distinction in DC traffic law if I recall correctly from my old driver’s exam days, is that DC law holds that running you are running the red if you are not able to pass through the entire intersection before the light turns red. Thus, all the people here that accelerate to enter the intersection at a yellow light ultimately passing through when its red, are held to be running a red light under DC law. In Minnesota, my understanding is that the law states you can’t enter an intersection if the light is red, but if you’re in there when it turns red you’re fine. It also makes “blocking the box” infractions much easier to enforce.

                The one thing I will say is it seems like the police in Minneapolis go out of their way to not write tickets. I’ve seen people egregiously blow through red lights on Hennepin Ave. numerous times with cops sitting at the light going in the opposite direction who didn’t pull them over.

  6. Michael Kuchta July 19, 2016 at 12:39 am #

    An excellent list. I have one major disagreement, however. A red light is a red light. We as cyclists should stop. For real. The Idaho law makes perfect sense for 4-way and 3-way stop signs (such as on Mississippi River Parkway in St. Paul.) It is debatable at 2-way stops. It makes no sense at red lights. Blowing red lights is one of the primary bad behaviors that gets motorists ticked at us. Plus it’s an invitation to become a hood ornament or to put others in jeopardy. After all. We don’t always know which direction of travel has the green light or green arrow. And motorists should be able to expect at least this degree of predictability from those of us on two wheels. We need to hold ourselves and each other accountable to this fundamental rule of the road. Stop. Take a drink of water. Be patient, as Lindsey advises several times. If there’s no cross traffic and the light isn’t turning green, state law allows us to proceed. After we stop.

    • Lindsey Wallace
      Lindsey Wallace July 19, 2016 at 11:11 am #

      Again, I’ve never advocated for people to ‘blow through red lights.’ The Idaho stop would require people on bikes to come to a stop at a red, ensure the way is clear, and proceed carefully. Bikers have a high incentive to ensure that they do this safely, because they’re more vulnerable than cars. Additionally, this rule makes it faster to bike through the city and can help bikers establish their place in the lane before the rest of traffic is allowed to proceed through the intersection. More on my feelings here: http://www.bikinginmpls.com/why-bicyclists-run-red-lights/

      • Michael Kuchta July 19, 2016 at 9:42 pm #

        Thanks for clarifying. I think the original paragraph sends conflicting signals about what is acceptable.

  7. GlowBoy July 19, 2016 at 1:43 pm #

    Idaho Stop requires cyclists to treat red lights as stop signs: come to a FULL stop and proceed only when safe and not violating someone else’s right of way. No one is advocating rolling through red lights without stopping.

  8. Julia July 20, 2016 at 1:47 pm #

    I’m very surprised to see “don’t use your phone while moving” as advice for “everyone.” That kind of blanket statement is both impractical and unreasonable, and contributes to a culture that blames the most vulnerable people for violence against them. This isn’t tit-for-tat transportation; not all modes require the same level of attentiveness or vigilance, not all modes bear the same responsibility for or have the same capacity to kill and maim in the event of momentary lapses in focus or attention.

    I think what you mean is “don’t impede/block the flow of foot traffic on the sidewalk/walking path.” That is actually stellar advice that too few people seem aware of. Don’t put your trash/recycling/composting bins in the sidewalks. Don’t block the sidewalk with your car waiting to turn out of a driveway. Don’t park your car or bike on the sidewalk. Don’t block the crosswalk with your car OR bike. Don’t stand where people need to walk. If you’re at an outdoor cafe, make sure you’re not blocking the sidewalk. When walking in a group on the very narrow sidewalks of Minneapolis, be aware of and adjust group width for people approaching or passing from behind. When walking, if your focus is shifting to something else (run into a friend, smartphone taking your concentration, store window needs a second look), make sure you’ve moved out of the path. When you meet up with or depart from people, step out of the walking path to greet/say good-bye.