What change would be most effective in helping cars and bikes share the road?

Recent changes to traffic flow on Hennepin and First Avenues in downtown Minneapolis have also moved bike lanes close to the curb. Planners hope a parking lane that separates bicycles from traffic will offer bikers some protection. What change would be most effective in helping cars and bikes share the road?

Comments texted to MPR:

Buffers are good because some drivers like to drive as close to bikers and bike lanes as they can simply because they do not want to share the road. -Suzie, Minneapolis, MN

The most effective change to help bikes and cars cohabitate would be to get the bikes of the roads. After all the cars taxes pay for the road. -Ryan

Motorists may pay road taxes, but they DON’T pay for the pollution they cause and its effects. -anonymous

It would go smoother if cyclists using the car lanes would actually follow traffic laws. Can’t believe how often I see them roll right through intersections. -Ryan, St. Paul, MN

Bikes need to obey traffic laws! If they did a symbiotic relationship would come much faster. -anonymous

How to better traffic between bikes and autos? Three words: more mass transit! -anonymous

Why not move bikeways onto parallel lower traffic roads? I’d feel a lot safer. -Cat, Blaine, MN

Ban the use of cell phones while driving. -Maria, Minnetonka, MN

Bikes are vehicles with full rights. If car drivers don’t want them sharing the roads, the solution is more bike lanes. -Ceri, Minneapolis, MN

Better BIKE LANES! –Sally, Eden Prairie, MN

More bike lanes and more motorist education on the rights of cyclists on the road. -Brian, St. Paul, MN

Share your reply in the comments: What change would be most effective in helping cars and bikes share the road?

  • Michael

    Slower speed limits in the city.

  • Cyclists who obey the same rules of the road as drivers.

  • Denny

    Placing signage along bike lanes, paths and routes stating that bicycles are allowed. Too many times I’ve had drivers yell at me to “get on the f***ing sidewalk” when state law allows me to ride on city streets — except were expressly prohibited.

  • kt

    I like the idea of a Parking Lane between the cars and bikers, and wider streets with obvious lanes are a good start; Another good implementation would be 25MPH limits on all city streets and Permits/License-Plates for bikes, which would help to generate more money for this cause.

    Another good addition to the safety measures in our city would be traffic cameras, and the saturation of officers in unmarked vehicles to help enforce laws that are already on the books.

    Aside from those things I would like to see people riding bikes actually follow traffic laws, i.e.: stop at lights and stop signs instead of racing through red lights while barely slowing down, or ignoring stop signs and causing other vehicles to stomp on their brakes, or hit the biker.

  • Matthew Brenengen

    As a frequent user of the wonderful Midtown Greenway Trail, I find there is a lot of confusion where the trail intersects the road. While bikes on the trail have a stop sign, about 70% of the time, vehicle drivers want to stop and waive bikes through – the other 30%, they just drive past – which is what I think they are supposed to do. The result is a standoff and a perverse Minnesota-nice negotiation about the rules of the road, “You go, bike.” “No, you have the right-of-way car.” “No, I will wait for you.” This Minnesota-nice ambiguity results in unsafe and inefficient intersections. Is there a way to make them less ambiguous for drivers and bikers?

  • Sarah

    Creating parking rows to separate bikers from drivers, as has been implemented on First Avenue in downtown Minneapolis, has been enormously successful in major cities in Europe. Also, we need a public education campaign both for drivers and bikers to obey all laws that apply to them.

  • Matty

    The biggest problem is speed differential between vehicles on the road. The solution is to design urban roads to the appropriate standards (20-25 mph design speed). Currently, our street design standards call for overly wide roads designed to move auto traffic as fast as possible. This is results in a landscape hostile to anyone who chooses to be outside of a car.

    To the folks who want people on cyclists to follow the rules of the road a good place to start would be designing roads that are inviting to (and work well for) people on bicycles so they don’t feel like they need to fend for themselves in a hostile environment. Survival instincts will outweigh following rules set up for other modes of transportation anytime.

  • The parking lane that separates bikers and auto traffic is a great start but this is a much bigger problem. One that requires a more comprehensive approach to solving it. MN Complete Streets has proposed a wide array of solutions that would improve pedestrian safety as well as biker safety

  • Matt Kauffmann

    Trying to control drivers speed and getting them to understand that bicycles are allowed, and for adults required by law, to ride in the street. I see a lot of cyclists who want to still ride their bike like their still 10 years old (i.e. on the sidewalk when it suits them, NOT stopping at lights etc.) It’s all about impressing on the automobile drivers that we’re all in this together and we’re going to all follow the same rules.

    I’m a frequent bicycle commuter and I used the new 1st Avenue lane for the first time last night and the thing I found most refreshing was that 1st Avenue seems to have priority over the side streets at the intersections. I’d given up riding from Washington to Dunwoody on Hennipen avenue because the lights were timed so POORLY. Ride 1 block, stop, ride1 block stop, ride 1 block, stop. I rode the whole length and didn’t have to stop once. Sweet!!

  • Dave

    We have plenty of laws on the books to regulate traffic. They seem to be rarely enforced on cyclists. Many cyclists seem to believe these regulations don’t apply to them.

    Enforce the laws and educate the riders. Please.

  • Matty

    Maybe we should survey all of the drivers of the cars illegally traveling in the bus/bike/right turn only lanes on Hennepin Avenue about compliance with the law?

    Traffic law enforcement is an issue across all modes of transportation. Let’s stop propagating the myth that drivers of bicycles are somehow the only rule breakers, OK? Thanks.

    If we stopped designing our streets for speeding cars and nothing else, compliance with traffic laws will rise drastically among all modes. So the law dogs around here should be supporting complete streets policies and design standards. Contact your state legislators and let them know you support complete streets.

  • Scott

    An appreciation for the fact that streets are intended for a variety of travelers and users, not just cars, is a great place to start. From there, a planning process to design a street that includes input from members of the community can be developed. The design can then also take into account what is going on “beyond the curbs” — the sidewalks, bus stops, parks, schools, homes, shops, and so on.

  • john mark lucas

    I agree with the previous comment that the key issue to address is the speed differential as it is the key factor that affects actual and perceived safety. More traffic calming measures, better accommodation for cyclists at intersections (e.g. bike boxes) could help.

    The lower speeds would give both parties time to react to each other serious incidents.

    On the new curb bike lanes; there should be a very strong visual distinction between the cycle lane and parking lane to make people exiting the parked cars aware of potential cycle traffic on the passenger side. Car passengers are not accustomed to this. In Copenhagen where this facility is widely used, the unaccustomed tourists are the ones usually involved in these bike lane accidents.

  • Jo Taliaferro

    I believe that a statewide Complete Streets Policy in which every walkway, roadway, bike lane and every transportation route had a designated space would make a huge difference for all travelers in Minnesota no matter their age or ability. Fewer lanes for cars, more designated, safe pedestrian walkways accessible to everyone would make Minnesota a safe-conscious state in which to get around without fear. Even the laws governing traffic now, are not inforced and bicyclists are not educated in safe riding. We who ride or drive or walk should all have places where safety is the top priority and accessibility is the norm rather than the exception!

  • Greg

    Why not grade separation between the bike lane and the parking lane/road? This would be safer for bikers. Cars trying to parallel park would still have a curb to park against. I think I remember bike lanes in Germany that were higher than the streets and lower than the sidewalks. This makes it clear where people are supposed to be biking, driving, and walking.

  • Dave

    We can talk about laws and lane design, but I think an increase in patience from all parties would make the biggest difference of all.

  • Sue

    For people in cars and trucks to recognize that bicyclists are legally entitled to space on most streets (of course not on interstate highways). Drivers might also consider that each commuter cyclist means one less car on the road… and it’s much easier to get around a bike than yet another car!

  • Brian Ernste

    Cities should choose a few main corridores that are designated for bike and vehicle traffic only. The “sidewalks” on these few roads would be designated to bikes only…and you stay on the right side of the road, so there isn’t on-coming traffic to deal with.

    Cities also should team up with local employers to educate and give incentives to their employees who ride bike/walk to work. Not only will this reduce the number of cars on the road, but it also encourages employees to live healthier lives- an in turn reducing healthcare costs.

  • Molly

    A concerted effort, on behalf of both drivers and cyclists, to practice respect on the road.

  • Soon Dodge

    I have all but given up riding on undesignated city streets in St. Paul and Mpls. Is this what drivers want? We (bikers) have equal rights to the road. And what was that recent comment on air about bikers not paying taxes on the roads? News flash–most of us also have cars and purchase gas. Gas taxes are only a fraction of the taxes we all pay that are supposed to contribute to road maintenance. We are traveling by bike to work and school. We are contributing to the entire economy here and trying to maintain the health of ourselves and our community. Please give us the respect we deserve on the roads. Please educate yourselves as drivers and slow down. Try to drive less aggressively. A 2 ton vehicle is a dangerous weapon and YOU are in control. Get off your cells. Dont drink and drive. Be aware of bikes. Thats all. Thanks for reading my rant. –T.C. bike commuter for 8 yrs and counting.

  • Jesse Meyer

    Drivers need to understand that bicyclists are legal users of the road, that the taxes bicyclists pay into the general fund are used to maintain and build road infrastructure, and that legally, bicyclists deserve a minimum of three feet distance when passing.

    Cyclists, in return, should operate their bikes in a predictable and safe manner and need to have proper lighting at night. In addition, they need to understand that on sidewalks, pedestrians have priority.

  • Dustin

    An online dating service that promotes multimodal relationships.

  • The widespread and persistent adaptation of a Complete Streets policy. Every major road needs to accommodate the disabled, pedestrians, cyclists, drivers, and freight vehicles (in that order). This is especially important in suburbs in which you cannot effectively commute without using main arterials. Everybody wants to commute with the greatest degree of safety; local and state government should ensure that this can be a reality for all parties.

  • Mary

    Education on both sides! Bikers need to learn to follow the traffic laws while riding their bikes. Stop signs apply to bikes as well as motor vehicles. I’m tired of bikers flying across the road without stopping when they are using a bike trail. Crosswalks apply to pedestrians not bikes. Drivers need to learn to look before turning to make sure they aren’t going to cut off a bike.

  • dick olson

    License & tax bikes so they can pay tieir fair share. Under the current system bikes are the poor cousins relying on the driving public’s charity. In St. Paul we already have a complete nonmotorized traffic system. It*s called sidewalks.

  • cyclejerk

    $5 a gallon gas would help.

  • Dorian Grilley

    Minnesota, and the other 49 states, recognize bicycles as a vehicle. That means bicycles have the same rights and responsibilities as all road users. Many of the well informed answers to the question have pointed out the need for both bicyclists and drivers to be aware of and obey the rules of the road… including passing bicyclists by a minimum of 3 feet. Bicyclists can help by being aware, visible, predictable and considerate wherever they ride. Unfortunately bicyclists are handicapped in many places by road designs that do not safely accommodate their needs. The Bicycle Alliance of Minnesota, Fresh Energy and Transit for Livable Communities, along with many others, are working to pass a statewide Complete Streets policy and will follow up with local units of government to do the same (Hennepin County and Rochester already have a policy). Such policies will help transform our streets into places for all users of all age and ability. But, it will take time.

  • David

    Handing out tickets to bicyclists who don’t understand that traffic law applies to all wheeled vehicles on the road. It is a rare occasion when a cyclist actually stops at a stop sign.

    Also, when there is a designated greenway, enforce riding on it and not in the street. W. River Parkway is quite narrow, but a lot of cyclists insist on riding on the road instead of the brand new greenway that runs parallel.

  • Al

    Motorists need to be more aware of cyclists and give them more room.

    Cyclists need to know that because they are considered vehicles and need to ride with traffic, not against it. Nothing frustrates me more when I am biking than another cyclist coming towards me against traffic. They put us all in danger when they can’t follow the rules.

  • Mark

    Getting the worst polluting cars off the road and replacing them with very clean alternatives like gas-electric hybrids, electric cars, CNG, and so on.

  • scott

    I am a bike commuter, and I see countless bikers that think that traffic signals don’t apply to them. This reflects poorly on all bikers and creates bad blood betwen car drivers and bikers.

    So the change needed is enforcement of traffic laws on bikers! This will get bikers to realize they must also follow the law, and improve safety and the respect that car drivers have for bikers.

  • Eric

    Bicyclists need to learn that they are not pedestrians and cars should learn not to treat them as such.

    Cities like my own (Winona MN) need to learn that the simple act of painting a bike on the road does NOT a “Bike Lane” make. weaving between parked cars and dodging doors is in fact more dangerous that straight road driving. Bike lanes should not be dual use parking areas.

  • David

    Drivers and cyclists need to exhibit some mutual respect for each other – we’re all legal road users, and we need to know our rights and responsibilities. We’re all just trying to get where we’re going; it doesn’t have to be an adversarial relationship.

    Educating all parties goes a long way, but in the long run, we will have to continue moving toward accommodating cyclists apart from cars. If we want to encourage more people to take up bicycling for transportation, we have to make them feel safe on the roads.

  • Wendy Huebner

    Economically in this economy make all the streets one-way. No construction just paint. Right lane for cars left lane for bicycles and sidewalks for people. Make angle parking to re-capture lost parking from left lane. Single lane streets, cars turn right only and Bicycles left only. People can go around the block. That would stop all the grid-lock from drivers refusing to clear the intersection on yellow for left turning vehicles. Would probably reduce speeds in neighborhood streets.

    Double lane streets: Left lane bicycles, next lane left turn cars next lane straight and the right lane for right turn cars and parking. On multi-lane streets; Bicycles can go straight on the walk lights. Bicycles must obey traffic rules.

  • brian

    all of the drivers complaining about bicycles not stopping for stop signs need to think about their own actions first. if they were coming to complete stops, looking both ways before moving forward and paying attention to the 2000 lbs of machinery they are in control of there would not be so many problems. yes i know you’re in a hurry, but let the bikes pass and you’ll be way ahead of them again after only half a block. it’s much easier to regain speed in your vehicle than it is on a bike.

  • leeann Overman

    Totally separate lanes. No biking in the dark. Bikers would have to start obeying the laws and rules of the road….Like stopping at stop signs, and signaling their turns. They don’t do these things because they don’t want to take their feet out of their pedals…very dangerous!

  • Perhaps stiffer penalties for both motor vehicle drivers and bicyclists? This is a difficult question. While I would hope that better rules to begin with would make a difference (e.g., different lane construction downtown), I don’t think improving the rules would make much of a difference.

  • D

    I think our current legal designation of cyclists as vehicles is grossly incorrect and thus the root of confusion and animosity. To name a few differences–number of wheels, size, weight, speed, ability to accelerate and decelerate, occupancy, safety rating in the event of a crash…To continue calling cyclists a vehicles is to continue calling a bat a bird. When we begin classifying cyclists as cyclists, then we will be able to provide for all transportation methods (vehicles, cyclists, and pedestrians).

  • Gary

    Those who believe cyclists should be on sidewalks are wrong. It is unsafe for pedestrians, in some places it is illegal and cars do not see cyclists as they approach and cross the street. And, by the way, you do not need to stop for stop signs.

    As for bike paths, if you are cycling to get somewhere fast they often do not work because:

    1-there are pedestrians and/or dogs; 2-there is a 10 mph speed limit (Mpls); 3-they are built to be scenic and wind around or are very rough. That does not mean the paths are not good, they are, but not in every situation.

    I believe that stop signs should mean ‘yield’ to cyclists and that cyclists should stop at traffic lights and wait for green. As an avid cyclist and frequent commuter I believe that is a workable and reasonable approach.

  • George

    In Europe there are separate bike lanes complete with signals and turning lanes. Cars, busses and bikes are on separate paved and controlled pathways.

    Drivers take cyclists seriously and cyclists are pretty good about obeying the rules.

    It all boils down to respect and tolerance. Drivers need to stop bullying cyclists with cars. The city needs to implement a sane and workable design for bike lanes, and cyclists need to obey the rules.

    We have seen how it works in high density cities. It can be done with a willingness to see it happen.

  • ann

    Bikers need to respect the rules of the road before I respect them. I get so frustrated when they act entitled to the road (not the side of the road, but the actual road slowing traffic and causing more danger) and superior. Also, when bike lanes (which tax payers bought) are provided for bikers – USE THEM! When this is done, I will respect bikers.

  • Dan

    If you are not commuting on your bike you must be on an official bike trail or a residential neighborhood street – no exceptions!

    The roads are for autos not bicycles and we should not waste any more tax dollars for non-commuting purposes. How can it be enjoyable to ride a bike when the chances of suffering major injury are always, always there. Not to mention the stress that is added to the auto operators. I drive my auto in the burbs and see hundreds of recreational bike riders that are always taunting vehicles by riding back and forth across the white line no matter how wide the shoulder is and riding on roads that are hills and curves with out shoulders with posted speeds of 40+ mph. I feel very sorry and scared for the less capable auto operators as these reckless bicycles want to take over the streets. I have a teenager getting his license this winter and a father that is turning 80. They both have the right to the road free of unnecessary hazards – non-commuting bicycles. I don’t want either one of them riding a bicycle on the road. I have had 2 friends hit by cars, one of them died from the injuries several years later and the other fully recovered. The variation in speed is an issue but so is the variation in size – this can’t be overcome. Serious bikers are commuting, non-serious bikers are not commuting. My opinions.

  • Tony Kelly

    We MUST enforce traffic laws for cars. There is NONE in Minneapolis; everyday I see cars running red lights and driving very dangerously. When a bicycle runs a light, it’s annoying and dangerous to themselves; when a 5000 lb (sub)urban assault vehicle runs a light, it’s deadly. Yet no Minneapolis cop is around, and we’ve decided that an automated detection system violates our privacy (huh?!). The simple physics indicate that bikes and cars are not equals: making the streets safer for everyone means making the most dangerous people follow the law first.

  • I just in from my commute on bike from N MPLS to Mendota heights and I can tell you that I saw drivers and cyclists both breaking the law and traveling like the rules do not apply to them. I am a huge advocate of enforcing on both sides of the aisle, but drivers need to realize that they are driving a vehicle due to a privilege, not a right and this comes with responsibilities. As for the cost, realize that road construction comes from property and sale taxes for the majority and not gas taxes, so we all pay for the roads and trails. As for the comment on using residential streets and bike trails unless one is commuting, how and what would you use to determine commuting, to and from work, to the store, a friends house, etc.? Also, we could use the same logic and say unless a driver is commuting they should be on the high-speed highways and freeways.

  • It was a mistake to give motor vehicles such dominance in the roads in the first place. Now we have an epidemically obese country full of spoiled over-entitled drivers who expect their unsound lifestyle choices to be subsidized by the government. Name one bicycle company bailed out through taxpayer money. We fight wars to maintain a steady flow of oil! And you have the gall to call cyclists poor cousins? Raise gas to $15 a gallon and make unsafe driving a felony. The age of the car is over.

  • Dan

    Enforcing all the laws of the road at all times is impossible and unreasonable to say the least and for all practical purposes a joke! Adding more laws just adds to this confusion.

    Roads are designed for auto traffic for the most part.

    Bikes and pedestrians are similar in size, speed, maneuverability, stopping distances, blind spots, etc. versus autos.

    Autos should always have the right-of-way. When there is a collision no-fault should apply and the risk should apply accordingly. I know this point of view may be hard to listen to… sorry.

  • Holly Cairns

    I believe one of the greatest things we could do is expand our shoulders. I live off of Cedar, near Northfield, Minnesota. Cars zip at 55 mph and the white line is six inches away from the gravel. It’s hard to stay in those six inches.

    Also, cars don’t seem to remember the three feet rule.

  • Dan,

    Can you expand on this statement please? Does this mean that those of us who choose to walk or ride should be willing to accept the risk if being hit by a car if we do not yield to you? What about a motorcycle are they taking risks that they should just suck up? I guess if you have your way we need to continue down the rabbit hole of bigger is better and if I kill you, but survive due to my size so be it.

    We have turned into a very sad society.

    “Autos should always have the right-of-way. When there is a collision no-fault should apply and the risk should apply accordingly. I know this point of view may be hard to listen to… sorry.”

    One last question would be when was the last time you actually said hi to another driver just to say hi and not because someone let someone else in? We do that everyday, biking (commuting and non-commuting is a social activity unlike driving)

  • Debra

    Drivers who suggest bicycles use sidewalks have never been in the dangerous mix of bicycles and pedestrians. Most cities have regulations preventing bicycles on sidewalks for just that reason. There are just as many crazy drivers out there as there are crazy bicyclists – perhaps we could all just follow the laws and learn to live with each other on the streets as we do or should do in other aspects of our lives.

  • Joe Radosevich

    Some of the comments here seem to be ignoring a basic premise of the question being asked, which is “What change would be most effective in helping cars and bikes share the road?

    So, that kinda rules out the folks who think bikers need to just go away.

    Complete Streets are the biggest change we can make, not only to help all users share our streets, but also to increase safety for all users and improve our neighborhoods.

    Complete Streets mean fewer and more narrow travel lanes, which slows down traffic and reduces accidents between vehicles (as well as between cars and other users). This benefits everyone.

    Complete streets also mean more greenery, medians, bump-outs, and yes bicycle facilities. They are shown to increase property values, safety and positively impact community health.

    Also we need to finally give cities the ability to control their own speed limit. The city of St. Paul has tried to earn this right for years, to reduce residential speed limits to 25 MPH. Gov. Pawlenty and Republicans in the legislature have blocked the measure year after year, despite the fact that cars traveling at 25 MPH are signifigantly less likely to kill pedestrians (especially children) if they hit them.

  • Curt

    It would help if auto drivers knew the “Rules of the Road”. Bicyclists are NOT required to ride on the shoulders of Minnesota roads. They are entitled by law, to use the same roads as cars and trucks with the exception of the freeway system.

    As far as obeying traffic laws, I see more cars and trucks speeding on city streets and running lights than bicyclists breaking traffic laws.

    Auto and truck drivers don’t own the road. They are the property of all the citizens, and bicyclists WILL use what’s ours too.

    Get used to it drivers!

  • Eric

    Every aspect of U.S. life is becoming increasingly separated and antagonistic. From health care to bicycling, we need to actually listen to each other, critically think about what we’ve heard, put ourselves in the others’ shoes. Then make mutually based decisions.

  • kelly

    first reminding those who chose to bike in the street to act accordingly. bikers first need to obey traffic rules, you want to be treated like transportation act like it.

    second cars need to slow down- which is not just for bikers but everyone.

    third more adequate bike lanes that are acknowledged by automobiles even if they are loud and an eyesore- learn by doing.

  • Rachel

    I’d like to see more “complete streets” models in the suburbs. I live in St. Louis Park and work in Edina-only seven miles away. There is no safe way for me to bike that also doesn’t take two hours. Planning our roadways to accomodate a variety of modes of transportation is crucial. It’s all about choice and right now my only real choice is to take hwy 100 down to Edina. I’d like the option to safely commute by bicycle to work.

  • Eric Smith

    Eric in Duluth, I think that in addition to having all of the bike lanes in the cities, bicyclists should have to follow the rules and laws to help prevent accidents at stop signs, stop lights, and left turns.

  • Diane Barnett

    If both bikers and drivers adhere to the “rules of the road” there will be fewer accidents. This means ride on the right side, signal turns, stop at stop signs etc.. I don’t know what to do about cars turning right across the bike lane.

  • Holly Cairns

    Curt said: Bicyclists are NOT required to ride on the shoulders of Minnesota roads.

    It’s funny you should say that, Curt, since I am under the impression that bikes are to stay to the side as much as possible (within a certain few feet of the white line, in fact, but I’m not looking it up right now).

    One extra thought: Taking a left hand turn irks me… I go into the lane, cars come up behind me and I worry they’ll take me out. I try to be as big as I can with the signal. Even then some try to pass on the left to get before me in the turn lane.

  • Clint Stockwell

    The change that will be most effective in helping cars and bikes share the road is the price of gas.

    However, buffer padding on bike lanes and stopping areas for bikes at crosswalks and major intersections would be helpful.

    More roundabouts would change the mix- Just imagine Southdale near France & Hwy. 62 with roundabouts or even going shopping by bike and not getting into trouble with turning and right of way.

    I like to see parking lots convert the center of their lots (not very big 4-6 cars) into simple green spaces with trees and areas to park bicycles.

  • Amy Z.

    As a cyclist myself, I am very embarassed when I see other cyclists not following the rules of the road or not respecting other vehicles on the road, bikes and auto. This creates animosity and frustration on the part of drivers who already have difficulty accepting seeing bikes on the road. Why would a cyclist act like the road only belongs to them if they want cars to share the road? We all need to have a “share the road” attitude.

    Also, cars need to just learn to pass cyclists instead of stalking behind them because they are afraid to pass. It slows down traffic and creates anxiety for the cyclist.

  • JBlilie

    For those bike-lanes close to the curb to work, they need to place parking lot curb-logs at the outside edge (with gaps for biks to go through) otherwise, the cars will (as the drivers are trained to do) park close to the curb (in the bike lane.)

    I bike a lot during the summer; but don’t commute due to various factors. I’ve ridden around the world and used to commute by bike 12-months/year.

    My fellows cyclists:

    1. Obey the rules of the road!

    2. Wear brightly colored clothing (if you want to live)

    3. Do not ride side-by-side unless you have a full lane of shoulder to work with. (Doing otherwise is absurdly self-indulgent and risky to everyone on the road.)

    4. Keep out of the driving lanes unless you have to use them. I once had a cyclist stop in the middle of a rural road (that had a wide shoulder by the way) and force me to come to a full, panic stop to avoid hitting him (there was a car coming the other way, it was a 55 mph zone.) I guess it was important: He wanted to look over his shoulder without clicking out of his pedals!! This kind of behavior is what makes drivers angry towards all of us cyclists.

    5. Use bike paths. Many roads near me have parallel bike paths and no shoulders and yet some cyclists insist on riding in the lanes (during rush hour) rather than the paths. This is crazy, gives cyclists a bad name, and is seriously tempting death. (Do you really want to trust your life to that 16-year-old texting while driving Mommy’s Suburban? You may be dead-right that the cyclist has a legal right to be there — but you’ll still be dead, which is rather permanent; and all they’ll get is a traffic ticket. Think about it.) Yeah, yeah, I don’t like crossing the cross streets either, you have to slow down for them, blah, blah, blah. It’s safer, for everyone. Shaving an extra 30 seconds off your time isn’t worth dying for.

  • Jessica Sundheim

    We live in a very small town and absolutely cannot ride our bikes on the street. There are a lot of elderly people who do not see well and do not pay attention to bikers, nor do they know the law. We tried to have a bike bus to school, but were cut off, flicked off and put in danger by drivers. We carefully and respectfully ride our bikes on the side walks and beautiful West Central Lakes Trail. I have to say biking and walking in the cities wasn’t any easier. It is nearly impossible to cross Grand Ave. in St. Paul.

    I think what would help everyone is a national safety campaign. Commercials about being nice are great, but informative commercials about bike laws would actually be more educational. SHARED KNOWLEDGE IS KEY to solving this issue. I have cop friends who do not know the law! It’s very frustrating to be standing out in the rain and not have cars give ME my due right of way so that I can cross and get out of bad weather. RESPECT!

  • Joshua

    Two words: Complete Streets.

    We’re entering a new transportation future. Our roads need to be designed not just for cars, but safe and accessible for bicyclists, pedestrians, transit riders and drivers alike.

  • Jon

    State lawmakers need to have the backbone to create distinct traffic laws that account for the fact that bikes are a completely different animal than cars.

    Sometimes it makes sense, from a safety perspective, for bikers to roll through a stop sign before a car comes (seeing as how many cars disregard bikers right-of-way or don’t look for bikes). It’s often a matter of safety.

    By law now, bikers are allowed to take up an entire lane. I think we all know that’s rarely the case and maybe that should be revised too.

    It’s not a matter of bikes getting special treatment, but of everyone’s safety being prioritized. We have a ton of bike commuters (including the seasonal racing nerds that give bikers a bad reputation).

    I’d challenge anyone who disagrees that bikes should be treated differently to ride in Minneapolis in February and see if it starts to make more sense.

  • Jbillie,

    Please consider answering this question whenever you drive or any driver for that matter.

    “Is Shaving an extra 30 seconds off your time worth killing or maiming someone”

  • JBlilie

    Dan said: “Autos should always have the right-of-way. When there is a collision no-fault should apply and the risk should apply accordingly. I know this point of view may be hard to listen to… sorry.”

    What a swinish attitude. Mostly, autos don’t have the right of way. They don’t vs. pedestrians. They can cause the most damage, they should be the most restricted. It’s true that the roads are set up very much in the favor of cars. (Isn’t that enough for you?)

    Regarding risk: What’s the risk to a car driver in a car-bike accident?

    The bottom line for a car, and what I impress upon my teen-aged new drivers is: You are never allowed to have controlled travel into any other object. That is, if you hit something with the front of your vehicle, you are at fault: You were not using sufficient sense and caution.

    I’ve heard the “I pays me taxes, I can drive any way I wants” [sic] nonsense before. You are required to share the road with pedestrians, bikes, motorcyces, horse-drawn vehicles, etc.

    It would be nice, wouldn’t it Dan, if everyone would just keep out of your way on the road?

  • JBlilie


    I’m a cyclist and happy to share the road, and I do. I expect sensible behavior from everyone and that includes other cyclists.

    Riding in shoudlerless traffic lanes during rush hour, when a parallel bike path is available 6 feet away, is just stupid, period. What point are they trying to make with it?

  • JBlilie


    BTW, I have been hit by a car while riding, so I have some perspective on all of this.

    All the best,

  • DJ

    Plowing the snow without sand and chemicals would help a bit. Bicycles don’t have motors, windshield wipers, heaters, defrosters, A/C, or quick-stop anti-lock brakes. We have to stay clear of walkers, rollerskiers, runners, speeders, holes and glass/garbage in the road, as well as buses, parked cars, drivers who don’t signal, and jaywalkers with earphones. I will no longer wait at a stop, because I’ve gotten severely injured when hit from behind while stopped. Drivers need to remember every bike would be another auto in front of them. We’re doing our best to give drivers space to turn, etc., but we have to watch out for ourselves. The laws don’t protect cyclists.

  • JBlilie

    “State lawmakers need to have the backbone to create distinct traffic laws that account for the fact that bikes are a completely different animal than cars.”

    Bike lanes are expensive (look it up). Roads are paid for with gas taxes. Therefore, bike lanes are subsidized. I’m in favor of this and happy to pay a little extra in taxes for it..

    However, see my previous comments. Riding in traffic lanes when there’s a bike path available, parallel, a few feet away is guaranteed to cause every gas-tax paying car driver to to oppose paying for more biike lanes/paths. This is common where I live.

  • JB,

    Sorry to hear about your accident with the car, I know it sucks. As to the path vs. road viewpoint, maybe they are going faster than the speed limit on the trail which is a common occurrence here in the cities or maybe the trail is severely damaged and dangerous to ride or maybe the trail goes in a different direction than they are headed. One could also ask the same of drivers, why do they need to driver 5 MPH or more over the limit when they could get on a faster road for that. I am not excusing the behavior of cyclists who break the law and as you would see in an former post I am an advocate of fining both sides of the coin, not just drivers.


    Car-free for 4 years in MPLS mn.

  • JBlilie

    “The laws don’t protect cyclists.”

    This unfortunately is generally true. Usually the bikes get the least consideration. It Seattle it was (80s/90s) explicit in the traffic laws: Bikes came last.

  • Matty

    The law states, “ride as far to the right as practicable” NOT as far right as possible. Riding in a parking lane, weaving in and out of parked cars, is not practicable and is, therefore, against the law. Hugging the curb and riding in the gutter where all sorts of debris exists is not practicable and is, therefore, against the law.

    Another portion of the law states that when passing a bicycle, a motor vehicle must maintain a minimum of 3 feet of clearance. This is why, unless a lane is a minimum of 14 feet wide, cyclists are supposed to control the full lane according to MN state law.

    Yes, let’s follow the law and start prosecuting aggressive motorists who don’t understand the law and put peoples’ lives in danger everyday on MN streets.

  • JBlilie

    “faster than the speed limit on the trail which is a common occurrence here in the cities or maybe the trail is severely damaged and dangerous to ride or maybe the trail goes in a different direction than they are headed. One could also ask the same of drivers, why do they need to driver 5 MPH or more over the limit when they could get on a faster road for that.”

    No posted speed limit. ~No traffic on the path. Path is in good shape, 6-feet away from the lane they are riding in, and two-way.

    The question isn’t going fast (these are 40 or 45 mph speed zones). It’s mixing traffic that doesn’t fit together. 99% of car drivers won’t pass a bike in the driving lane unless there’s an additional lane to move into to do it. (I would imagine you support this preference.) So, the drivers go from 45+mph (on one road) down to 15-20 mph, traffic snarls, everyone gets pissed. It’s not like it’s a weekend or early in the morning or the evening, it’s rush hour.

    Again, I ride these same areas. It aggravates me because it reinforces the sterotype that (serious) cyclists are scoff-law, F-U jerks on the road.

  • Lisa

    We need complete streets in Minnesota. People drive so fast here, even in downtown, and it really creates a survival of the fittest atmosphere on our streets. I’ve run red lights in downtown simply because my other option was waiting in a very unsafe location in between a bus and a car, both of which pull out very quickly from red lights. I make decisions to keep myself safe, like any rational person would do.

    What we need to do to reduce conflicts on the road between cars and people on bicycle is to create buffered, protected bike lanes on our major streets. Like car drivers, most people on bicycles are going somewhere — to work, to school, to stores — that are located on streets, not on trails. We need safe routes through downtown, connecting to major employment and housing centers, and connecting to the University. Portland and New York are leading the US in making bicyclig safe, by using protected or separated on-street bicycle lanes, colored pavement, and markings or bicycle lights to make intersections safer. First Avene in downtown Mineapolis is a good first step, but it doesn’t have enough of a buffered space to really make cyclists feel safe. In downtown Portland, lights are timed at 15-18 miles per hour, making it easier to get green lights on a bicycle and lowering vehicle speeds to a safe speed. If a car hits me going 40 miles per hour, I have an 80% chance of dying — we need to make sure our traffic speeds are much lower to make it safe out there for people to choose bicycling as a healthy, low-cost, non-polluting alternative to driving.

  • Karen

    If only cyclists would follow the same rules of the road cars do especially stopping at stop signs, our lives would be safer. Not, “if there’s no hill”, or “there’s nothing coming”- STOP. The Parkways are especially scary.

  • Phil

    Two changes would be most effective in helping all to share the road. 1) Complete Streets as described by others on this thread already, where everyone has, at least, a clearly designated place within the system. 2) Better education about, and enforcement of, current traffic law for all road users, but especially for motorized vehicles.

  • J.R.

    I think the answer is more education. Currently, cyclists are about 4% of the traffic on the road at any given time… and as stated by other commenters, bicycles are considered vehicles under the law. Cyclist have a legal right to a full lane, and the only reason this cyclist doesn’t use that right is because I don’t have a death wish. I think it would be really nice if motorists would just obey the laws that are already in place. How many motorists a day, in the 7-county Metro area, pass cyclists *IN A NO PASSING ZONE?* How many of them do this while nattering away on a cell phone? How many of them exit out the driver’s side door even though this is expressly forbidden?

  • Ted

    Since a couple people have mentioned the tax issue, it might me useful to remember that the gas and licensing taxes are at the state level. Meaning that they primarily fund state infustructure, meaning highways where there is a lot less bike traffic. Most municipal or city roads come from city or county budgets which are based on property tax or other assessments. So the taxs paying for those roads isn’t really based on whether you are a motorist or a cyclist. Just food for thought.

  • Z

    Carrists entering Minneapolis should be charged a fee. If the carrist is driving solo, charge them double. This would help discourage inefficient and harmful methods of transportation and encourage other (superior) modes of transport. Also, it seems as though many carrers cling on to the false belief that only “they” pay taxes for “their” roads. Perhaps, cyclists can stop paying taxes and carrists can foot the bill.

  • Curt

    There has been a lot of discussion about bicyclists obeying traffic laws. When I’m not biking, I’m usually walking and it almost unheard of for a motorist to stop when I’m at an intersection waiting to cross the street. I submit that there are more motorists that break traffic laws than pedestrians and bicyclists. I’l like to insert a quote here from Minnesota law concerning motor traffic, and pedestrians attempting to cross a street at an intersection.

    Where traffic control signals are not in place or in operation, a driver must stop for a pedestrian crossing within a marked crosswalk or at an intersection with no marked crosswalk. A vehicle that is stopped at a crosswalk can proceed once the pedestrian has completely crossed the lane in front of the stopped vehicle.

    Drivers, do you follow this law? If not, don’t throw stones at others.

  • Dresden Doe

    It’s a little troublesome that a simple lane change is tough for drivers to digest. Driving privileges aren’t taken seriously, and neither is the responsibility that comes with it. Give cyclists at least 3 feet of space (ITS THE LAW), and/or slow down. The Minneapolis Police could stop parking in bike lanes, that would help matters, too. I haven’t driven in years by choice, but I do own a car. When I did drive, I don’t recall ever getting frustrated or stressed out about a cyclist being in “my” way. I was competent enough and coordinated enough to maneuver accordingly. I logged thousands of miles on a bike in Europe, including bustling metro areas, and I never had any problems with drivers. I witness road rage on a daily basis in Minneapolis and other U.S. cities. The problem goes a lot deeper than the asphalt. You can’t change drivers mentality here, at least not with a couple of poorly executed lane changes.

  • Karl G., St. Paul

    Finger pointing abounds.

    Number one pet peeve: Drivers who stop illegally out of politeness and try to direct pedestrians and bicyclists are a menace. If a pedestrian is in a cross walk, follow the law and yield. The key word is “in”. Standing on the curb offers a broad perspective of traffic flow in all directions. The mirrors on cars are an acknowledgment that cars offer limited visibility. Sitting (reclined) in a cushy seat with a limited visual plane does not give drivers the perspective to put peds and bikes in motion safely. Not to mention the other cars that have to jam brakes, when it would have been a lot simpler to flow past, and allow the peds/bikes to wait for a natural interval. I’ve seen people nearly get clipped taking a driver’s word for it that the way is clear.

    Bikes should be allowed to roll when they have assessed the situation and in doing so are not requiring anyone to alter speed or direction. During busy traffic periods, with increased dynamics, bicyclists should be aware that their actions can cause disruption. Be polite. Don’t be a sh*t disturber.

  • George R

    I got hit in a cross-walk while walking by an auto driver carelessly making a right turn on red. Laws, particularly by those using a vehicle that can kill, need to be enforced. I want to point out that when hit by a car at 20mph you have about a 90% chance of survival and when hit by a car at 40mph you have about a 10%chance of survival. If a driver of a car is driving at 40mph in a 30mph zone in a residential area they are selfishly endangering others and should be prosecuted. Bad mouthing bicyclist is a cheap shot. Look in the mirror and say I always stop at the cross-walk, never roll through a red light and never speed and if you can truly say that then you are indeed a one in a million.

  • velo

    I’ve been a daily bike commuter since 2002 and am a recent transplant to St. Paul/Minneapolis from Portland, Oregon. Biking here is decent, but compared to Portland, the Twin Cities are way behind. Biking becomes safer when there is relatively complete facilities and lots of riders on the roads. Traffic flows better all around when drivers expect bikes and act accordingly. More bikers usual mean fewer daredevil types and a more representative slice of the population.

    For Bikers: Try to follow traffic laws and ride predictably. Don’t ride against traffic, don’t run red lights and use lights at night or dusk. Think of yourself as an equal road user with rights and responsibilities.

    For Drivers: Recognize that bikes are traffic. We have a right to the road just like you. We aren’t in the way of traffic, we are traffic. Realize that the stakes are a lot higher for us. If you hit us you might mess up your hood, and we might be dead. Keep in mind that you are operating 2,000+ pound plus lethal weapon.

    For Facilities:

    More bike lanes and make sure they connect to each other. Discontinuous facilities aren’t very useful for bikes, particularly for those of us who ride for transportation.

    Traffic taming on side streets is great for making bikeways that don’t turn into secondary arterials. Turn all the stop signs one way to encourage traffic flow for bikes, but force cars to turn off every few blocks and add speed bumps to keep speeds low.


    Hold drivers accountable for bad behavior. Accidents don’t just happen, they are the result of choices. If a motorist kills someone while driving distracted they clearly are placing a higher value on their cell phone call then on someone’s life. That sounds like a crime to me.

    Holder bikers accountable, particularly for riding the wrong way and riding with no lights. This creates a dangerous situation for drivers and riders.

  • Debo

    On a one mile stretch of main roadway in my downtown neighborhood we have a sidewalk, then a parking lane, then a nice wide bike lane. Bikes and cars live side by side here in the most friendly and efficient manner that I have seen anywhere and the neighborhood (College Park in Orlando Florida) has been named as one of the most Bike Friendly in Florida. Maybe planners from other cities should take a look because it really does work.