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Bicycles back on the road, fatalities down in Minnesota

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.

From 2011 to 2013, 18 bicyclists died on Minnesota roads and 2,634 were injured. Of those injuries, 155 or 6 percent were serious injuries. This is a decline from the previous three-year period. From 2008 to 2010, 32 bicyclists were killed and 2,836 bicyclists were injured.

In 2013, 45 percent of the seven fatalities and 822 serious injuries were in the 15 to 29-year-old age group. Five-to 14-year-olds made up another 15 percent of fatalities and serious injuries.

“Reducing bicycle crashes is important to Minnesota’s vision of eliminating all fatalities and serious injuries on our roadways,” said Sue Groth, MnDOT state traffic engineer. “Bicyclists on the road must act like vehicles — meaning obeying traffic signals, signaling their turns and, of course, being visible. Motorists must treat bicyclists like they treat other vehicles and providing ample space for the bicyclist when passing.”

Crash statistics show that cyclists and motorists are nearly equally at fault in crashes between motor vehicles and bicycles. The primary reasons bike crashes occur are failure to yield right of way, non-motorist error and disregarding a traffic control device. These three are among the five top contributing factors every year.

Most crashes occur during afternoon commuting time between 3 p.m. and 6:59 p.m. The 5 to 5:50 p.m. time period has the highest number of crashes.

The Department of Public Safety and MnDOT have these bicyclist and motorist tips:

Bicyclist tips

• Follow the law — obey all traffic signs and signals. Ride in the same direction as traffic.

• See and be seen — wear bright colors, reflective gear and use head and tail lights.

• Protect yourself — wear a helmet.

• Ride on the road, and ride in the same direction as traffic.

• Obey all traffic control signs and signals, just as motorists.

Motorist tips

• Be patient when passing a bicyclist — slow down and pass only when it’s safe. Allow clearance of at least 3 feet.

• Be on the lookout — watch for and yield to bicyclists before making a turn.

• Stay alert and avoid distracted driving — put away mobile devices, food and makeup.

For information about MnDOT’s “Share the Road” bicycle safety education program and bicycle crash statistics, visit www.sharetheroad mn.org.

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