Thanks BikeMN (Bicycle Alliance of Minnesota) for pushing the legislature to update the law making it easier for bicyclists and motorist to Share the Road. This new revision allows motorists the option to pass a bicycle and use a portion of a no passing zone to stay minimum of three away from cyclist. This makes it more comfortable for all, plus Minnesota becomes a more bike-friendly state.
Bicyclists Now Have An Added Layer Of Protection On MN Roads
When Governor Dayton signed the new transportation bill into effect it enacted a change to the law. This revision to the law was advocated by the Bicycle Alliance of Minnesota. It allows motorists the ability to pass a bicycle in a no passing zone, if safe to do so. Before this recent change in the law motorist had to allow a minimum of three feet when passing, only passing zones. They had to keep a distance of when passing a bike, staying on the right side of the double yellow line. In many cases this rule was an impossible feat for drivers to perform as many of the states roads are to narrow without using a passing lane. This new update to the law now makes it legal so an automobile can change lanes to pass a bicycle even in a no passing zone when safe to do so.
A Win-Win For Motorists and Cyclists
“This change, proven successful in nine other states, is a win-win. We’ve made things both safer for bicyclists and more convenient for drivers,” said BikeMN volunteer lobbyist Joe Olson while thanking legislators for helping to make this happen.
“This revision to the law is a convenience for motorists because it legalizes a current practice of reasonable driving, especially on the many flat and straight low-speed roads in our communities,” says Dorian Grilley, BikeMN’s executive director. “Many people see the double yellow line and they think ‘Oh, I can squeeze by that bicycle in the 12-foot lane ahead,” Grilley said. “Now we hope drivers will allow bicyclists a little more space without fear of getting a ticket.”
BikeMN encourages bicyclists to ride where they are visible and have room to maneuver. The law states bicyclists should ride as far to the right as practicable, which does not mean as far to the right as possible. Bicyclists should ride away from the curb in the right wheel track of vehicles and at least a minimum of 24 inches away from the road edge. A motor vehicle should either wait to pass or change lanes to overtake the bicyclist. This law change expands opportunities for safe automobile passing while improving the flow of overall road traffic.
Details To The Changes
The change can be found on Line 62.4 of the transportation bill, House File 3. It states: Minnesota Statutes 2016, section 169.18, subdivision 5 (Subd. 7.Laned high (c)), is amended to read: a motor vehicle may be driven to the left side of the roadway (in a noway (c passing zone) to safely overtake a bicycle under the following circumstances:
(1) the bicycle is proceeding in the same direction as the motor vehicle
(2) the driver of the motor vehicle either (i) provides a safe clearance distance, in no case less than the greater of three feet or one-half the width of the motor vehicle, or (ii) completely enters the left lane of the highway
(3) the operator of the bicycle is not (i) making a left turn, or (ii) signaling that the bicycle operator intends to make a left turn and
(4) the driver of the motor vehicle complies with all other applicable requirements under this section.
Now that it’s legal to pass a cyclist in a double yellow, as of July 1st, advocates around the state hope drivers will be more willing to make a wide pass around cyclists.
The new law is intended to reinforce the rule that you must give at least 3 feet to pass a cyclist on the road.
Alisa Reckinger, who bikes frequently around Minneapolis, wasn’t aware of the new law until now and hopes it makes her trips a little safer. “I think a lot of it comes down to common sense a little bit,” she said. “I think sometimes drivers don’t realize how close they are, but I think giving a little more space makes everyone feel a little safer out there.”
The Bicycle Alliance of Minnesota is working to make Minnesota a place where bicycling is an easy, safe, and fun for everyone. The mission of BikeMN is to unite and strengthen bicycle advocacy, provide education, and work for a more bicycle friendly Minnesota. Visit www.bikemn.org to learn more about local advocacy around Minnesota.