Minnesota Bicycle Laws FAQs
Under Minnesota law, motorists are required to exercise care and be extra cautious to prevent bicyclists from harm. However, because bicyclists have the same rights as drivers, they also have a duty to follow the law. Here are the most frequently asked questions regarding Minnesota bicycle laws.
Frequently Asked Questions – Bicycle Safety & Laws in Minnesota:
- Do Cyclists Have to Adhere to the Same Traffic Laws as Motor Vehicles?
- Are Bicycles Considered Vehicles If I Ride in a Bike Lane?
- Can I Get a Ticket For Riding Without a Bike Helmet in Minnesota?
- Can I Receive a Ticket for Impeding Traffic on a Bicycle on a Minnesota Roadway?
- What Are the Penalties & Dangers of Running a Red Light on a Bicycle?
- Can a Bicyclist Legally Wear Headphones While Riding a Bike in Minnesota?
- Can I Ride in Between Lanes of Traffic (Lane Splitting)?
- Do Bicyclists Have to Walk Their Bike Through a Crosswalk in Minnesota?
- Can I Receive a Ticket for Failing to Signal a Turn or Lane Change?
Do Cyclists Have to Adhere to the Same Traffic Laws as Motor Vehicles?
Yes, cyclists have the same rights and responsibilities as drivers. Therefore, they must adhere to all traffic laws applicable to motorists unless there is an exception expressly related to bicycle riders. For example, riding through a red light after waiting a reasonable amount of time. One other difference is that bicyclists are required to ride as close as possible to the right side of the road unless they are overtaking and passing another vehicle traveling in the same direction, making a left turn, or when necessary to avoid a road hazard.
Are Bicycles Considered Vehicles If I Ride in a Bike Lane?
A bicycle is not considered a vehicle in Minnesota, but cyclists are still governed by many of the same traffic laws. That means bicyclists must:
- Ride in the same direction as vehicles
- Stop for red traffic lights and wait until the light turns green before continuing. Unlike vehicles, cyclists can proceed if they have waited a reasonable amount of time and the sensor has not detected them
- Stop at stop signs and yield the right of way if necessary
- Make turns in the appropriate lane
- Use hand signals when turning or stopping
- Remain at the scene of a bicycle accident
- Not ride while intoxicated
The law does make several exceptions for bicyclists compared to vehicles. For example, bicyclists must ride as close to the right-hand side of the road as practicable, unless they are passing a car, making a left turn, or attempting to avoid debris, unsafe road conditions, pedestrians, etc. In addition, there cannot be more persons on a bike than how many it was designed for, and bicyclists are allowed to ride side by side in twos, as long as they do not impede traffic.
Can I Get a Ticket For Riding Without a Bike Helmet in Minnesota?
Minnesota law does not mandate bicyclists to wear a helmet, so no, you cannot get a ticket for riding a bike without one. It is, however, strongly recommended and much safer to do so. Not only can a helmet prevent severe head injuries and possibly save your life, but if you are injured in an accident while not wearing one, it can also be extremely challenging to recover full and fair compensation. The reason is that the at-fault party may deny liability or fight your claim by suggesting your negligence in choosing not to wear a helmet was the actual cause of your injuries.
Can I Receive a Ticket for Impeding Traffic on a Bicycle on a Minnesota Roadway?
Under Minnesota law, bicycle riders have the same right to use the road as motorists. Therefore, a rider cannot receive a ticket for impeding traffic simply because they are on a bicycle. Bicyclists can ride two abreast on a roadway in a single lane as long as they do not impede the normal and reasonable movement of traffic. Basically, the only way bicyclists can illegally impede traffic is when riding more than two abreast or if they can move to the right and fail to do so.
What Are the Penalties & Dangers of Running a Red Light on a Bicycle?
Bicyclists have to stop at red lights unless they have an “affirmative defense” for running it. Meaning they have come to a complete stop and waited a reasonable amount of time without the sensor detecting them. They then have the right to proceed with caution after yielding to all cross traffic. The penalty for running a red light on a bicycle without an affirmative defense is a fine of up to $300 and possible surcharges.
However, a red light violation can also lead to an accident. If the cyclist’s negligence causes injuries or the death of another, they may be civilly and criminally liable. Not to mention the severe injuries they may suffer as well. Due to a lack of protection, bicyclists are highly susceptible to life-changing injuries if they collide with a vehicle. If not fatal, the common injuries caused in an accident often result in extensive medical bills, considerable lost income, and possibly require long-term care.
Can a Bicyclist Legally Wear Headphones While Riding a Bike in Minnesota?
Unlike motor vehicles, Minnesota’s distracted driving laws do not apply to bicyclists. Therefore, you are legally allowed to use headphones while biking, but that doesn’t mean you should. Riding while distracted significantly increases the chance of a bicycle accident.
Can I Ride in Between Lanes of Traffic (Lane Splitting)?
Bicyclists should never ride between lanes of moving or stopped traffic. It is illegal but also incredibly dangerous. However, joining other traffic rather than riding on the right is sometimes necessary because the road is simply too narrow for both a bike and a car, or the cyclist must make a left turn. This is also referred to as “taking the lane.” Under Minnesota law, bicycles must ride within a single lane similar to vehicles.
Do Bicyclists Have to Walk Their Bike Through a Crosswalk in Minnesota?
Bicyclists are not required to walk their bikes through crosswalks but should use caution. In some scenarios, it may be the safest option. However, vehicles must stop when you have the right of way. Similarly, you must wait to enter the crosswalk until you are signaled to do so. Just like pedestrians, it is illegal for bicyclists to enter a crosswalk when they do not have the right of way, and a vehicle is closely approaching, making it impossible for the driver to stop.
Can I Receive a Ticket for Failing to Signal a Turn or Lane Change?
It is possible but unlikely. By law, bicyclists must use arm signals to notify of a lane change or turn, but not always. If you need both arms to control your bike, you are not required to use arm signals. Instead, when you can, signal a turn at least 100 feet ahead of time and when stopped and waiting to turn.