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Bicycle riding up, fatalities down in Minnesota
Gov. Dayton proclaims May as Bike Month
ST. PAUL, Minn. — Bicyclists are back on the road, and together, motorists and bicyclists must share the road, according to the Minnesota Department of Public Safety and Minnesota Department of Transportation.
Preliminary 2011 statistics from DPS report four bicyclist fatalities in Minnesota—the lowest since 2007. From 2008-2010, 32 bicyclists were killed and 2,836 bicyclists were injured.
Most bicycle crashes occur during afternoon rush hours, and people under age 25 represent more than half of all bicyclists injured annually.
Officials expect a continued surge in people riding of bicycles in 2012 and urge caution for those who may be new to bicycle commuting.
“We’re striving to create a culture where one traffic fatality is one too many,” said Sue Groth, MnDOT state traffic engineer. “Motorists need to be ready as more bicyclists join traffic, and bicyclists need to help drivers by heeding traffic and wearing bright, reflective gear and helmets.”
Groth added that bike commuters need to take the time to plan safe routes, use paths when possible, and follow the rules of the road, including obeying traffic signals.
The primary reason crashes occur for both bicyclists and motorists is failure to yield right of way. For bicyclists, another leading crash factor is disregard for a traffic control device. For drivers, it’s inattention.
“Cyclists have a right to be on the road. We need to be visible and predictable, which includes signaling turns and stopping at stop signs just like motor vehicle operators,” said Anna Kerr, Statewide Non-Motorized Advisory Committee chairperson. “It all comes down to all roadway users being respectful to each other.”
The law is clear. Bicyclists and motorists share responsibility. Eight “rules of the road” to improve bicycle safety are:
- Bicyclists may ride on all Minnesota roads, except where restricted — such as interstates.
- Bicyclists should ride on the road, and must ride in the same direction as traffic.
- Motorists must at all times maintain a three-foot clearance when passing a bicyclist.
- Bicyclists must obey all traffic control signs and signals, just as motorists.
- Motorists and bicyclists must yield the right of way to each other.
- Bicyclists must signal their turns and should ride in a predictable manner.
- Bicyclists must use a headlight and rear reflectors when it’s dark.
- Bicyclists should always wear helmets and bright reflective gear.
May Bike Month provides many opportunities to learn about safe bicycling practices. For a list of events, visit www.mndot.gov/bike/bikemonth.html.
For information about MnDOT’s “Share the Road” bicycle safety education program, bicycle crash statistics and bicycle events statewide, visit www.sharetheroadmn.org/index.html. Printable resource materials are also available on the website.
Promoting bicyclist safety is a component of the state’s core traffic safety initiative, Toward Zero Deaths. A primary vision of the TZD program is to create a safe driving culture in Minnesota in which motorists support a goal of zero road fatalities by practicing and promoting safe and smart driving behavior. TZD focuses on the application of four strategic areas to reduce crashes — education, enforcement, engineering and emergency trauma response.