After witnessing the howls of outrage and sighs of frustration (and maybe even chortles of suppressed glee?) related to some very poor proposed bike legislation introduced in Minnesota this Legislative session, I grabbed the fixie by the bullhorns and took a stab at modifying the core Statute of Minnesota bike law (Section 169.222) to reflect the reality of conditions on the ground. A summary of the modifications is below, followed by the full proposed text. Deletions are formatted as
strikethrough, additions are underlined (kinda like how they do it at the Legislature! ;-)).
Before we get into the details though – have you noticed all the new blinking yellow left-turn arrows popping up? They are long overdue and I applaud traffic engineers for implementing them. They represent a tacit recognition that traffic control systems at many intersections weren’t efficiently meeting the needs of people using the road system, either in automobiles or on bicycles. My proposed changes to Section 169.222 continue and strengthen that recognition.
- I removed two words related to “as far to the right as practicable” statements that seemed to indicate people riding bicycles needed to be in the gutter instead of in the traveled lane.
- Right-turn lanes – is the far right of the right-turn lane the correct place to be when, as a person riding a bicycle, you are continuing straight through an intersection? I agree, it is not the correct place to be! So I added a couple exceptions to the “as far right as applicable” subsection. These additions not only make it safer for people riding bicycles, they also make it easier for people driving automobiles to continue on their way (if they are turning right)! The following image (courtesy of this article by Meg Dunn for Pedal Fort Collins, which seems to reference this article by San Francisco Bicycle Coalition)) shows very similar conditions, just with a bike lane.
- Idaho Stop – for 30+ years, people riding bicycles in Idaho have been able to treat stop signs as yield signs, and stop lights as stop signs. Given the success of that legislation, it seemed appropriate to add very similar language to our statute, so I did (pretty much a copy-paste, with just a few slight tweaks).
- Paris Stop – recently (2015) people riding bicycles in Paris were allowed to treat stop signs on the continuous legs of T-intersections as yields (Schema 2 diagram in this poorly-titled, linked story from PRI, image copied below). This resonated with me since I encounter several of these on my daily #BikeCommute.
Full Text of Proposed Statute
169.222 OPERATION OF BICYCLE
Subdivision 1. Traffic laws apply. Every person operating a bicycle shall have all of the rights and duties applicable to the driver of any other vehicle by this chapter, except in respect to those provisions in this chapter relating expressly to bicycles and in respect to those provisions of this chapter which by their nature cannot reasonably be applied to bicycles.
Subd. 2. Manner and number riding. No bicycle, including a tandem bicycle, cargo or utility bicycle, or trailer, shall be used to carry more persons at one time than the number for which it is designed and equipped, except an adult rider may carry a child in a seat designed for carrying children that is securely attached to the bicycle.
Subd. 3. Clinging to vehicle. Persons riding upon any bicycle, coaster, roller skates, toboggan, sled, skateboard, or toy vehicle shall not attach the same or themselves to any street car or vehicle upon a roadway.
Subd. 4. Riding rules. (a) Every person operating a bicycle upon a roadway shall ride as close as practicable to the right-hand
curb or edge of the roadway except under any of the following situations:
- when overtaking and passing another vehicle proceeding in the same direction;
- when preparing for a left turn at an intersection or into a private road or driveway;
- when reasonably necessary to avoid conditions, including fixed or moving objects, vehicles, pedestrians, animals, surface hazards, or narrow width lanes, that make it unsafe to continue along the
curb orright-hand edge;
- when operating on the shoulder of a roadway or in a bicycle lane;
- when preparing to continue straight through an intersection where the right-most lane allows or requires right-turns; or
- when stopped at a steady red traffic control light and vehicles behind the person may make a right-turn on red
(b) If a bicycle is traveling on a shoulder of a roadway, the bicycle shall travel in the same direction as adjacent vehicular traffic.
(c) Persons riding bicycles upon a roadway or shoulder shall not ride more than two abreast and shall not impede the normal and reasonable movement of traffic and, on a laned roadway, shall ride within a single lane.
(d) A person operating a bicycle upon a sidewalk, or across a roadway or shoulder on a crosswalk, shall yield the right-of-way to any pedestrian and shall give an audible signal when necessary before overtaking and passing any No person shall ride a bicycle upon a sidewalk within a business district unless permitted by local authorities. Local authorities may prohibit the operation of bicycles on any sidewalk or crosswalk under their jurisdiction.
(e) An individual operating a bicycle or other vehicle on a bikeway shall leave a safe distance when overtaking a bicycle or individual proceeding in the same direction on the bikeway, and shall maintain clearance until safely past the overtaken bicycle or individual.
(f) A person lawfully operating a bicycle on a sidewalk, or across a roadway or shoulder on a crosswalk, shall have all the rights and duties applicable to a pedestrian under the same circumstances.
(g) A person may operate an electric-assisted bicycle on the shoulder of a roadway, on a bikeway, or on a bicycle trail if not otherwise prohibited under section 015, subdivision 1d; 85.018, subdivision 2, paragraph (d); or 160.263, subdivision 2, paragraph (b), as applicable.
(h) A person operating a bicycle approaching a stop sign shall slow down and, if required for safety, stop before entering the intersection. After slowing to a reasonable speed or stopping, the person shall yield the right-of-way to any vehicle in the intersection or approaching on another roadway so closely as to constitute an immediate hazard during the time the person is moving across or within the intersection, except that a person after slowing to a reasonable speed and yielding the right-of-way if required, may cautiously make a turn or proceed through the intersection without stopping.
(i) A person operating a bicycle approaching a steady red traffic control light shall stop or slow to a reasonable speed before entering the intersection and shall yield to all other traffic. Once the person has yielded, they may proceed through the steady red light with caution. Provided however, that a person after slowing to a reasonable speed and yielding the right-of-way if required, may cautiously make a right-hand turn without stopping. A left-hand turn onto a roadway may be made on a red light after stopping or slowing to a reasonable speed and yielding to other traffic.
(j) A person operating a bicycle approaching a stop sign or steady red traffic control light at a T-intersection where the person’s direction of travel does not require turning on to another part of the intersection or crossing the portion of the intersection where turning traffic may be present shall continue at a reasonable speed and yield to all other traffic. Once the person has yielded (if required), they may proceed through the intersection with caution.
Subd. 5. Carrying articles. No person operating a bicycle shall carry any package, bundle, or article which prevents the driver from keeping at least one hand upon the handle bars or from properly operating the brakes of the bicycle.
Subd. 6. Bicycle equipment. (a) No person shall operate a bicycle at nighttime unless the bicycle or its operator is equipped with (1) a lamp which emits a white light visible from a distance of at least 500 feet to the front; and (2) a red reflector of a type approved by the Department of Public Safety which is visible from all distances from 100 feet to 600 feet to the rear when directly in front of lawful lower beams of headlamps on a motor vehicle. A bicycle equipped with lamps that are visible from a distance of at least 500 feet from both the front and the rear is deemed to fully comply with this paragraph.
- No person may operate a bicycle at any time when there is not sufficient light to render persons and vehicles on the highway clearly discernible at a distance of 500 feet ahead unless the bicycle or its operator is equipped with reflective surfaces that shall be visible during the hours of darkness from 600 feet when viewed in front of lawful lower beams of headlamps on a motor The reflective surfaces shall include reflective materials on each side of each pedal to indicate their presence from the front or the rear and with a minimum of 20 square inches of reflective material on each side of the bicycle or its operator. Any bicycle equipped with side reflectors as required by regulations for new bicycles prescribed by the United States Consumer Product Safety Commission shall be considered to meet the requirements for side reflectorization contained in this subdivision.
- A bicycle may be equipped with a front lamp that emits a white flashing signal, or a rear lamp that emits a red flashing signal, or both.
- A bicycle may be equipped with tires having studs, spikes, or other protuberances designed to increase traction.
- No person shall operate a bicycle unless it is equipped with a rear brake or front and rear brakes which will enable the operator to make a braked wheel skid on dry, level, clean A bicycle equipped with a direct or fixed gear that can make the rear wheel skid on dry, level, clean pavement shall be deemed to fully comply with this paragraph.
- A bicycle may be equipped with a horn or bell designed to alert motor vehicles, other bicycles, and pedestrians of the bicycle’s presence.
- No person shall operate upon a highway any two-wheeled bicycle equipped with handlebars so raised that the operator must elevate the hands above the level of the shoulders in order to grasp the normal steering grip area.
- No person shall operate upon a highway any bicycle which is of such a size as to prevent the operator from stopping the bicycle, supporting it with at least one foot on the highway surface and restarting in a safe manner.
Subd. 6a. Operator age. No person under the age of 15 shall operate an electric-assisted bicycle.
Subd. 7. Sale with reflectors and other equipment. (a) No person shall sell or offer for sale any new bicycle unless it is equipped with reflectors and other equipment as required by subdivision 6, paragraphs (b) and (e) and by applicable regulations for new bicycles prescribed by the United States Consumer Product Safety Commission.
(b) Notwithstanding paragraph (a), a new bicycle may be sold or offered for sale without pedals if the bicycle otherwise meets the requirements of paragraph (a).
Subd. 8. Turning, lane change. An arm signal to turn right or left shall be given continuously during the last 100 feet traveled by the bicycle before turning, unless the arm is needed to control the bicycle, and shall be given while the bicycle is stopped waiting to turn.
Subd. 9. Bicycle parking. (a) A person may park a bicycle on a sidewalk unless prohibited or restricted by local authorities. A bicycle parked on a sidewalk shall not impede the normal and reasonable movement of pedestrian or other traffic.
(b) A bicycle may be parked on a roadway at any location where parking is allowed if it is parked in such a manner that it does not obstruct the movement of a legally parked motor vehicle.
Subd. 10. Bicycle events. (a) Bicycle events, parades, contests, or racing on a highway shall not be unlawful when approved by state or local authorities having jurisdiction over that highway. Approval shall be granted only under conditions which assure reasonable safety for all participants, spectators and other highway users, and which prevent unreasonable interference with traffic flow which would seriously inconvenience other highway users.
(b) By agreement with the approving authority, participants in an approved bicycle highway event may be exempted from compliance with any traffic laws otherwise applicable thereto, provided that traffic control is adequate to assure the safety of all highway users.
Subd. 11. Peace officer operating bicycle. The provisions of this section governing operation of bicycles do not apply to bicycles operated by peace officers while performing their duties.
History: 1978 c 739 s 12; 1986 c 444; 1987 c 255 s 14; 1993 c 326 art 4 s 2; art 7 s 2; 1995 c 72 s 2; 2012 c 287 art 3 s 29-31; art 4 s 20; 2013 c 127 s 31-34