Bicycling on the sidewalks in downtown Rochester may be illegal, but can bike riders really ride through red lights and stop signs in Minnesota?

Now that the spring weather has warmed up in southeast Minnesota, you might want to enjoy the outdoors on the bike sometime soon (which helps maintain that 6-doot social distancing!) And while riding your bike on the sidewalk in downtown Rochester has always been against city statutes, a few years ago, the city launched a new campaign to make sure cyclists are aware they belong on the road. (Which is a good thing -- I know I've almost been hit by several bicycles while walking downtown.)

But what about red lights and stop signs outside of downtown? Can bicycles just blow through those like you see them do so often? (And I include myself in this category -- I routinely ride my bike and will often just slow down without coming to a full stop at stop signs near our house where traffic is pretty light. My bad, I know.)

Well, as it turns out, the answer is no. According to the official Minnesota state statues, Sec. 169.222 in subdivision 1, it states "All traffic laws apply" to those operating a bicycle. So, yeah, just riding through a stop sign while on your bike-- even if there's no other traffic coming the other way-- would still be a violation.

But what about at those pesky traffic lights that are triggered by sensors in the road -- those lights that never seem to change to green (because the cycle isn't heavy enough to trip the sensor)?

That's where it gets a little sticky. Minnesota state statute Sec. 169.06 DOES allow motorcycles and bicycles to proceed through a red light -- after first coming to a stop -- when "waiting at the light for a reasonable amount of time and the light does not cycle from red to green."

But to the bigger question, no, bicycles here in Minnesota can't just blow through a stop sign or red light without stopping. At least, not legally, anyway...

Listen to Curt St. John mornings from 6 to 10 a.m. on Quick Country 96.5
and afternoons from 2 to 6 p.m. on 103.9 The Doc

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