- Wear a properly fitted helmet every time you ride. Wearing a helmet can reduce the severity of head and brain injuries.
- Use reflective tape, gear, or accessories to be as visible as possible.
Carry a tire pump, tire levers, patch kit, and spare tube.
- Carry water or a sports drink using a water bottle holder (often called a cage).
- Equip your bike with a white front headlight as well as a red rear reflector and/or light for
- riding in twilight, darkness, and poor weather conditions. (Legally required.)
- Carry identification and pertinent medical information.
- Carry a cell phone in case of an emergency and to document issues.
- Use shatter-resistant protective eye wear.
- Wear bicycling gloves to protect your hands in the event of a crash.
- Install a mirror on your handlebar, helmet, or glasses to improve your overall awareness and to see trailing vehicles and riding companions.
- Carry a lock to secure your bike.
- Wear reflective leg bands to keep long pants away from your chain.
- Carry a bag under your saddle, on your rack (panniers), or on your back.
- Install a bell or horn to warn others of your approach, especially on trails.
- Carry a multi-tool to help with basic repairs. A crescent wrench is helpful with certain bikes.
ANATOMY OF A BIKE
- Brake/Shift Levers
- Front Brake
- Front Wheel Hub
- Crank Arm
- Chain Ring
- Rear Derailleur
- Cassette/Freewheel and Rear
- Rear Brake
- Reflector/Rear Light
- Seat Post
- Front Derailleur
Bicyclists’ Rights and Responsibilities
When riding a bicycle on Minnesota roads follow the same rules as motorists. Bicyclists can be ticketed for violating traffic laws (see Minnesota Vehicle Laws, page 24). All road users will be safer and happier if they show respect and consideration for one another on roads.
Dangerous Behavior for Bicyclists
• Bicycling against the direction of traffic
• Failing to yield when required
• Running stop signs or red lights
• Riding at night in dark clothing and/or without lighting
• Riding unpredictably (such as weaving in and out of travel lanes)
• “Hugging” the curb
• Riding on sidewalks
• Bicycling in motor vehicle blind spots, especially around commercial vehicles
• Distracted or impaired bicycling
Dangerous Behavior for Motorists
• Not looking for bicyclists using facilities or on the road
• Failure to yield to a bicyclist when required
• “Squeezing” a cyclist by passing too close (3-foot minimum)
• Turning directly in front of a bicyclist
• Driving too fast for conditions
• Opening vehicle door into a bicyclist’s path
• Driving while distracted (such as texting) or while intoxicated
• Blasting your horn or harassing bicyclists in other ways
RULES OF THE ROAD
Motorists who don’t follow the rules of the road endanger bicyclists. They often “don’t see” cyclists, or don’t understand the road hazards and conditions that bicyclists face. Motorists also often misjudge the speed of bicyclists. Help protect yourself by riding smart, following all traffic laws, and riding predictably, consistently, and attentively
First Come, First Served
Just like other vehicles, bikes have a right to space on the road. Other vehicles must yield space to bikes that occupy a space first just as bicycles must yield space to motor vehicles that occupy space first. This rule applies both between intersections and at intersections. Like motor vehicles,
bicyclists must also yield when changing lanes.
Yield to Crossing Traffic
Drivers entering the roadway from driveways and alleys, must yield to traffic on the roadway to be entered or crossed. Yielding means looking until you see that no traffic is so close as to be a danger. Before changing lanes, bikes must check to see that a space is clear. If it is not clear, a
bicycle must yield to a car in that space before making the change
Direction of Travel
Always ride in the direction of traffic. Never ride against traffic (on the left
side of the road). You may, however, ride with traffic in the far left lane on one-way streets when preparing to make a left turn.
Sidewalk riding is more than twice as dangerous (and in some cases illegal)
as riding on the road. Drivers often don’t notice you. If you do ride on sidewalks, be extra alert when crossing driveways and intersections, and always yield to pedestrians.
Speed Positioning and Passing
The slowest vehicle should be in the right-most position and the fastest on
the left. That puts parked drivers at the curb, slower drivers next to them, and fast drivers next to them. Passing should take place on the left. There are a few exceptions, such as a vehicle ahead turning left, when passing happens on the right. This is why caution should ALWAYS be used when passing slow or stopped traffic on the right, such as in a bike lane or on a shoulder. Motorists are not expecting to be passed on the right. Also, passing on the right means passing in a blind spot. Always watch a vehicle’s front right wheel to see if it may make a sudden move to the right.
Lane Positioning to Avoid Hazards & “Squeezing”
Stay to the right, but don’t hug the curb. By riding away from the curb in the right wheel track of vehicles, usually a minimum of 24 inches away from the road edge, you discourage drivers from “squeezing” you by passing too closely in the same travel lane.
When to Share the Lane
Bikes can share the same lane with other drivers under certain conditions. If a lane is wide enough to share with another vehicle (at least 14 feet), ride at least two feet from the road edge to avoid debris and hazards.
Frequently, travel lanes are not wide enough to share (usually less than 14 feet). If you deem a vehicle cannot safely pass you (with a minimum of 3 feet) in the lane, you can “take the lane” to signal to traffic that they must pass you in the other lane. This protects you from drivers passing
too closely. Position yourself as if you were a car by riding in the right wheel track of motorized traffic or the center of the lane in a narrow lane. This places you within motorists’ fields of vision sooner and allows them more time to prepare to pass. This positioning also allows you space to
move away from traffic to avoid debris, hazards such as car doors opening when parallel parking is present, and “crowding” by other vehicles. Riding here also properly prepares you to make left turns or to pass other road users.
At intersections, follow the rules of the road as any other driver would.
At intersections, there is a certain position bicycle drivers need to place
One Lane: When approaching an
intersection with one lane, position
yourself in the lane with respect to your
destination direction. (Diagram A)
Multi-Lane: When coming up to an
intersection with multiple lanes, place
yourself in the rightmost lane that is
traveling in the direction you’re going.
Multiple Left Turn Lanes: When
turning left on a road with multiple left turn lanes, select the rightmost lane that serves your destination. (Diagram C)
One-Way Streets with Two or More Lanes: When you make a left turn from a one-way street onto another one-way street, it’s easiest to turn from the left-most lane. (Diagram D)
Two Abreast Rules & Etiquette
Riding two abreast is legal in Minnesota. Bicyclists, however, can receive citations for riding more than two abreast. Bicyclists often ride next to one another when dangerous road conditions exist that make it unsafe for drivers to pass in the same travel lane. Bike shope encourages bicyclists to be courteous and “single up” when other road users are present and it is safe to do so. You may never ride more than two abreast.
Crossing Railroad Tracks
Many railroad tracks cross roads diagonally. To prevent catching a tire in the track, slow down and cross at a right angle. It’s especially important to do this in wet weather conditions
When stopping for a rest or emergency, move completely off the road into the shoulder.
Where to Ride: Bike Lanes, Travel Lanes
While you are not required to use them, bike lanes and paved shoulders are often the safest place to ride, especially where motor vehicle speeds exceed 45 MPH or heavy traffic is present. When facilities are not available, maintained, or the traffic conditions warrant, bicyclists must use standard
travel lanes. The safest way to do so is by identifying conditions and assessing the usable space.
Bike Lane Considerations
Bike lanes are not always designed
to give cyclists enough room to stay in the bike lanes and outside of the “door zone” (where driver’s side doors of parked cars open). Remember, the door zone is at least 3 feet so give parked cars at least 4 feet. (Diagram E)
Be sure to scan and signal to other
traffic when moving out of the bike lane and into the travel lane. When in a bike facility that ends at an intersection, use caution and position yourself to avoid conflict with right turning motorists. (Diagram F)
NOTE: It is NOT legal in Minnesota to continue straight in the right-turnonly
lane as shown in diagram F. Technically, in the shown situation, the
bicyclist should scan, yield, and move left into the travel lane. However,
there may be times when it is dangerous to move into the adjacent lane,
such as high speed rural roads where shoulders end or there is lots of
faster moving traffic on the left. Use good judgment and extreme
caution in these situations.
Turning from a Bike way
When making a left turn from a right side bike way, scan, signal, and exit the bike way early. Turn left from the proper road lane (Diagram G). An alternative is to make a box turn by stopping in the intersection, turning your bike with traffic, and proceeding when the traffic signal changes. (Diagram H)
DANGERS OF SIDEWALK RIDING
Sidewalk riding is very dangerous — you are invisible when on sidewalks!
Motorists are looking in the road and not for sidewalk traffic moving at high speeds, such as bicyclists. They often don’t see bicyclists there, especially at driveways and intersections. Sidewalks themselves pose dangers to bicyclists. Poor maintenance, uneven surfaces, gaps, and
pedestrians make sidewalks difficult and dangerous for bicycles to navigate.
Bicyclists are never required to use sidewalks or side paths. A person lawfully operating a bicycle on a sidewalk or in a crosswalk has all the rights and duties applicable to a pedestrian under the same circumstances. If you must ride on a sidewalk (and local ordinance does not prohibit it) do the following:
• Yield to pedestrians and walk bikes in crowded areas.
• Provide an audible approach warning by ringing your bell or calling out “passing on your left.”
• Watch for inattentive motorists or bicyclists; never assume they see you.
• Ride with the direction of traffic (on the right side of the road).
• Ride at walking speed. Stop and yield at intersections when a pedestrian would.
Bike shop recommends children under age 10 ride on sidewalks and under the leadership of an adult, as they may not have the cognitive development to make the decisions necessary to safely ride in the street. Extra caution should be used at driveways and intersections, following the same rules as if on the road.
BICYCLE ROAD MARKINGS & SIGNS
Bike lanes and bike-related road markings continue to spring up across the state. Each city must comply with Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices standards for facilities. However, not all communities will choose to use all of these markings and signs.
Bike lanes with solid lines
These are for bikes only. Drivers should not cross into them unless you’re turning or parking, and be sure to yield to bikes first.
Buffered Bike Lanes
Similar to a regular bike lane, but also includes a marked buffer between the bike lane and adjacent travel lanes. A buffered bike lane is restricted to bicycle traffic, except in instances when motorists need to turn, enter, or leave the roadway.
A bike symbol that is not in a bike lane highlights a designated bike route.
Drivers can drive on them as normal, but the bike symbols are a reminder to expect and look for bikes.
Bike-Related Road Markings
A bicycle lane is a portion of a street adjacent to the travel lane that is reserved for bicyclists. Bicycle lanes are typically on the right side of the road and are designated with pavement markings with arrows that direct bicyclists in the direction of travel. Bike lane signs are typically also placed alongside the road. A bicyclist should always travel in the same direction as other traffic when using a bike lane, unless the pavement markings in a bike lane indicate you may travel against traffic.
Cars are not permitted to park or drive in a bike lane. However, when making a right turn, they must yield to any bicycle traffic and merge into the bike lane prior to making the turn. A properly designed intersection will always place the straight thru bicycle traffic to the left of a right turn
lane. As a bike lane approaches an intersection or bus stop, the white lines may be dashed to indicate a shared space between thru bicyclists and turning motorists.
Bicyclists are not required to ride in the bike lane in Minnesota. Some of the reasons a bicyclist would not ride in the bike lane include that they may be in the “door zone” of parked cars, or they may be blocked by parked cars, debris, or snow and ice. Whenever a bicyclist enters or exits a bike lane, they should be sure to look behind them, signal, and yield to vehicles already in adjacent travel lanes.
Green Bike Lanes
Green bike lanes are pavement markings often used to highlight locations where motorists merge across or turn across a bike lane. To draw attention and increase safety at these locations, bike lanes are colored green to alert motorists that they must yield to thru bicyclists
Advisory Bike Lanes
An advisory bike lane is similar to a regular bike lane, but is used on low volume streets that are narrow. They are marked with a solid white line on the right (next to parked cars) and a dotted line to the left. These markings give
bicyclists a space to ride, but are also available to motorists if space is needed to pass oncoming traffic. So that motor vehicle drivers can safely meet an oncoming motorist, they are allowed to merge into the bike lane when it is an advisory bike lane. Because of this bicyclists should be more prepared for a motorist to enter the advisory bike lane than they would a typical bike lane. The three foot passing law still applies.
Buffered Bike Lane
A buffered bike lane is similar to a regular bike lane, but also includes a marked buffer between the bike lane and adjacent travel lanes. The purpose of a buffered bike lane is to provide extra elbow room for bicyclists and increase safety. The
buffer is placed between the bike lane and travel lane. The buffer may be marked with white chevrons to indicate that no vehicles are allowed to travel in the buffered area.
A buffered bike lane is restricted to bicycle traffic, except in instances when motorists need to turn, enter, or leave the roadway. Whenever motorists must cross a bike lane to prepare for a turn, they must yield if a bicyclist is approaching and let them pass. Like all bike lanes, bicyclists should not ride the wrong way in a buffered bike lane, and they should signal and yield to vehicles already in adjacent travel lanes when they enter or exit a buffered bike lane.
Protected Bike way (AKA cycle tracks and separated bike lanes)
A protected bike way is an exclusive area for bicyclists that is physically separated from motor vehicle traffic. Protected bike ways may be one-way or two-way and will be marked appropriately. Protected bike ways may be located within street corridors and separated from traffic lanes by parked cars, curbs, medians, bollards or flexible traffic posts, planters, or other vertical features. This design provides a space within the public right of way for bicyclists and provides additional comfort and separation from motor vehicles lanes.
Where protected bike ways are present, it is extremely important for motorists and bicyclists to be cautious at intersections. Motorists should watch for and expect bicycle traffic in front of them and behind them in protected bike ways and yield when appropriate. As bicyclists in a protected
bike way approach an intersection, they should use caution and assume turning or merging vehicles do not see them due to potential obstructions and their position in the public right of way. Bicyclists using protected bike ways with parked cars between the protected bike way and the motor vehicle lanes should watch for passenger car doors and pedestrians crossing the bike lane.
Shared Lane Markings
Shared lane markings or “sharrows” (derived from “shared” and “arrows”) are pavement markings used to mark a designated bike route. Placed in the travel lane, they encourage bicyclists to ride in a safe position outside of the door zone (where driver’s side doors of parked cars open). There are regular shared lane markings and green shared lane markings, they both mean the same thing. Motor vehicles are permitted to drive in travel lanes where shared lane markings are present. Bicyclists may be traveling in the same lane so motorists must travel behind them until it is safe to pass (they must give the bicyclist at least three feet).
Shared lane markings include a bicycle symbol and a double chevron indicating the direction of travel. They do not designate any part of the roadway as exclusive to either motorists or bicyclists. Rather, the symbols highlight the fact that the travel lane is shared.
A bike boulevard is a lower-volume, lower-speed street that has been optimized for bike traffic. The purpose of a bike boulevard is to provide bicyclists, especially those who are not comfortable riding on busy streets, a safer and more relaxing place to ride. While many residential streets are already favorable to most bicyclists, a bike boulevard goes the extra step to provide safe crossings at major streets and encourage motorists to travel at slow speeds, while reducing the frequency of stop signs.
This environment is created through a variety of traffic calming and design elements such as speed humps, traffic circles, curb extensions, medians, and traffic signals. Many of the changes, especially the intersection treatments, improve safety for pedestrians and motorists, too. Bike
boulevards are designated with pavement markings that include a large bicycle symbol with the text “BLVD.”
A bike box is a type of advanced stop bar that is used at some signalized intersections. The bike box includes two elements, 1) an advanced stop line for motorists to wait behind, and 2) a marked space for bicyclists to wait in. When the traffic signal is red, motorists must wait behind the bike box and behind the stop line. Bicyclists are allowed to ride to the front of the traffic queue into the bike box and wait for a green signal. When the traffic signal turns green, motorists must yield to bicyclists before proceeding or making a turn.
The purpose of a bike box is to allow bicyclists to wait at the front of traffic queues so they are more visible to motorists. This is to improve the safety of bicyclists at intersections.
Bike-Related Road Signs
While motorists are always required to share the road with bicyclists, sometimes there are signs reminding them to do so. For a time, “Share the Road” signs were popular across the state. Recently, however, traffic engineers have started moving away from them for signs with more direct language, such as “Bikes May Use Full Lane.” Their intention is to encourage motorists to avoid crowding cyclists and give them a full three feet when passing. Sometimes there are just yellow diamond-shaped signs (often on sharrows or bike boulevards) that complement the paint on the road to remind
motorists bicyclists will be present.
Shoulders & Rumble Strips
Shoulders run parallel to the roadway travel lanes and are designed for the accommodation of stopped vehicles and for emergency use. Bicyclists may legally ride on shoulders, although they are not required to do so. While shoulders are often the safest place to ride, especially on roads with high speeds or traffic volumes, it is important to note that shoulders may not be as well maintained as the lanes of travel or may be too narrow for safe riding.
Some shoulders incorporate rumble strips, which are a countermeasure for mitigating run-offthe-road crashes. Rumble strips can be hazardous for bicycles. Use caution when entering or exiting the shoulder around
rumble strips. Shoulders with rumble strips often have gaps allowing
bicyclists to maneuver in and out of the travel lane.
Bicyclists should yield to traffic in adjacent travel lanes when navigating intersections from shoulders.
Bicyclists can use roundabouts either as a
pedestrian or in the same manner as a motorized vehicle. When using them similar to a motorist, bicyclists should center themselves in the travel lane (“take the lane”) in order to make themselves
more visible to motorists and to prevent unsafe passing.
You can never be too visible on a bicycle. In addition to bright lights, bright and reflective clothing makes you more visible — and safer.
• Always wear proper safety gear, especially a helmet.
• The law requires you to have a white front light visible from at least 500 feet, red rear light or reflector, and pedal or wheel reflectors. For extra visibility, Bike shop strongly recommends adding one or more red rear lights to your bike and person.
• Always wear brightly-colored, high-visibility, reflective clothing.
• Front white headlights should always be bright enough to be seen from 500 feet away. Brighter lights that allow bicyclists to see the road conditions are preferable in many situations and can be worth the higher expense. Multiple headlights (e.g. helmet and handlebar mount) allow better visual perspective and offer safety redundancy.
Guidelines For Mountain Biking Trails
Know your equipment and abilities. Carry food, water, and gear for changing weather conditions.
• Ride only on open trails — respect closures, don’t trespass, and obtain authorization if required.
• Don’t ride trails when they are wet, this damages the trail tread and leads to ruts and erosion
—and more work for trail volunteers.
• Leave no trace — be sensitive to the environment; stay on existing trails and pack out what you take in.
• Control your bicycle — pay attention! Anticipate problems and keep your speed under control.
• Bicyclists always yield — make your approach known and be courteous. Always yield to
uphill users. When stopping for a rest or emergency, move completely off the trail.
• Never spook animals — animals startle easily and can create danger for you and others. Always yield when approaching a horse and ask the rider how to proceed.
Any lock can be broken, given enough time and the right tools, but there are ways to reduce theft risk.
• If possible, take your bike indoors with you. Your next best option is locking it where you can still see it. Otherwise, lock your bike in a highly visible, well-lit area as close to your destination as possible.
• Always lock your bike, even if you are only going to be gone for a minute. Stealing an unlocked or improperly locked bike only takes a few seconds.
• Never lock only your bike’s front wheel; you may come back to find just the front wheel.
• Lock your frame and wheels to something solid and permanent; a thief can lift a bike over and off a sign post.
• Take anything removable unlocked wheels, seats, computers, lights, bike bags, etc. with you. If you can remove it, so can a thief.
Locks & Cables
• U-locks tend to be the strongest type of lock. Cable locks are only a minor deterrent to a bike thief. If you can, remove your front wheel and U-lock it to the rear wheel and the frame so that you fill the “U” of your U-lock.
• You can add cables, locking quick-releases and/or seat post bolts to secure your wheels and seat.
• Lock your bike to a bike rack when available.
• Don’t lock your bike to fire hydrants, police and fire call boxes, gas meters, handicapped ramp railings, or bus loading zone or traffic signal posts. Avoid locking to trees, and never block public right of way on sidewalks.
In Case of Theft
• File a police report at the local police station with details of the theft, including your bike’s serial number, and request a case number.
• Cite the case and serial numbers whenever you communicate with the police.
• Follow up by phone periodically to see if your bike has been recovered.
• If you have purchased “scheduled item” insurance on your bike, contact your insurance agent. Otherwise, you must weigh the costs and benefits of filing a homeowners insurance claim.
• Create a Google Alert with your bike’s description to receive email notifications if your bike is posted for sale on sites like Craigslist and Ebay.
Serial Numbers & Registration
Even if the police recover your stolen bike, you won’t get it back without the serial number. They need proof of ownership. Ask your bike shop to show you your bike’s serial number on the frame and on the sales paperwork. Some communities, including Minneapolis, will register serial numbers to help you recover your stolen bike. It’s also a good idea to keep a photograph of your bike and serial number on file.