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Tue, Apr 13th, 2010
Posted in State of Minnesota

ST. PAUL - Minnesota bike riders are back on the road - and motorists need to share the road, according to the Minnesota Departments of Public Safety (DPS) and Transportation (MnDOT). Preliminary 2009 stats from DPS report 10 bicyclist deaths, a drop from 13 in 2008, but still above the average death count over the last decade. Officials expect a continued surge of bicyclists in 2010 and urge caution for those who may be new to bicycle commuting.

The agencies underscore the importance of the safety issue due to the popular biking culture, especially in the Twin Cities; Minneapolis was recently named America's "top biking city" by Bicycling Magazine.

"Motorists need to be ready as more bicyclists join traffic, and bike riders need to help drivers by heeding traffic and road rules, and wearing bright, reflective gear and helmets," says Cheri Marti, director of DPS Office of Traffic Safety.

Marti adds that bike commuters need to take the time to plan safe routes, use paths when possible, and follow the rules of the road, including obeying traffic signals.

DPS reports each year an average of eight bicyclists are killed and more than 950 are injured in crashes with vehicles. Most bicycle crashes occur during afternoon rush hours. People under age 25 represent more than half of all bicyclists injured annually.

"Bicycles have a right to be on every road, except where specifically prohibited, and that means following the rules of the road and being respectful of other traffic," says Susan Koschak, Statewide Non-Motorized Advisory Committee chairperson. "As cyclists, we have the responsibility to be visible, which means wearing clothing that contrasts with the background and using appropriate lights when it is dark."

The major contributing factor in bicyclist-motorist crashes is failure to yield right-of-way, for which both bicyclists and drivers are at fault. For bicyclists, another crash factor is disregard for traffic control devices. Crash factors for motorists include failing to watch for and see bicyclists, and driving inattentively.

DPS and MnDOT officials say that the law is clear: bicyclists and motorists share responsibility. Eight "rules of the road" to improve bicycle safety are:

1. Bicyclists may ride on all Minnesota roads, except where restricted - such as interstates.

2. Bicyclists should ride on the road, and must ride in the same direction as traffic.

3. Motorists must at all times maintain a three-foot clearance when passing a bicyclist.

4. Bicyclists must obey all traffic control signs and signals, just as motorists.

5. Motorists and bicyclists must yield the right of way to each other.

6. Bicyclists must signal their turns and should ride in a predictable manner.

7. Bicyclists must use a headlight and rear reflectors when it's dark.

8. Bicyclists should always wear helmets and bright reflective gear.

For information about MnDOT's "Share the Road" bicycle safety education program, bicycle crash statistics and bicycle events statewide, visit

"Share the Road" resource materials, including one 30-second radio spot, three 15-second radio spots and print materials in PDF and EPS formats, are available at

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