The Laws and Rules of Bike Safety
The traffic rules of pedestrians and bicyclists can be confusing. When a person rides his bike in a crosswalk, is he considered a pedestrian? Should a bicyclist walk her bike across a street instead of riding the bike?
Minnesota law defines a pedestrian as “any person afoot or in a wheelchair.” A pedestrian has the right of way in a crosswalk. In Minnesota, drivers are required to stop or slow down so that a pedestrian can cross the street safely at a marked crosswalk. Crosswalks are usually marked with white lines at an intersection.
Minnesota law views a bicycle as a vehicle. A person riding a bicycle is required to obey the same traffic laws as a person driving a car. This is why a bicyclist is required to ride in the same direction as other traffic and obey traffic signs.
When a bicyclist gets off the bike, that person becomes a pedestrian. When the bicyclist gets back on her bike, she is a “driver” of the bicycle. A bicyclist riding in a crosswalk is not given the legal protections that pedestrians have. For that reason, it is often safer for a bicyclist to get off the bike and walk the bicycle across the street at a crosswalk.
On average, seven bicyclists are killed each year in Minnesota because of collisions with cars or other motor vehicles. It is very important to know the laws about bike safety and to follow them.
One of the most important rules of bike safety is to wear a bike helmet. Bicyclists of all ages, children as well as adults, should wear bike helmets on every ride. A good-fitting helmet worn just above the eyebrows helps protect the head and the brain. According to the Minnesota Safety Council, “two out of three bicycling deaths are the result of head injuries. Nearly half of children hospitalized for bike-related injuries suffer from a traumatic brain injury, affecting their ability to walk, talk, and think. In a crash, helmets reduce the risk of brain injury by up to 88%.”