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Ask a trooper: Bikes subject to same traffic rules as cars

Sgt. Mark Baker

Minnesota State Patrol

Q: Do people on bikes have to follow the same rules we do in cars? For example, isn't it better if bikers ride against traffic so the bikers can see what is coming as well as the cars seeing the bikers coming?

A: Bike riders are required to follow the same rule as motor vehicles when using the roads. This includes stopping at stop signs and red lights, signal their turns using hand/arm signs and riding the same direction as motorized vehicles on the right side of the roadway. Bikes must also have a headlamp in the front and reflectors on the rear of the bike when riding at night.

There appears to be an increase in bikes on our roads in the past couple of years. Drivers of vehicles passing a bike must give at least three feet of space between the bike and the vehicle while making the pass.

There are many other regulations when it comes to the operation of bicycle on the roadways. People interested in more information can review the requirements in Minnesota statute 169.222

Q: Is it legal to have your GPS unit attached to your front window? I was told it was legal in Wisconsin, but not in Minnesota.

A: It is illegal to have a GPS unit mounted to the windshield in Minnesota. I do not know the law in Wisconsin.

Minnesota equipment laws do not allow any objects to be suspended between the driver and the windshield with a couple of exceptions, which do not include GPS units. In addition, that law prohibits any sign, poster, or other nontransparent material on the front windshield, sidewings, or side or rear windows of the vehicle.

Visibility is critical when it comes to safe driving. Many crashes we investigate are a result of one driver not seeing the other vehicle or pedestrian. Be cautious about what you decide to place in front of you as a driver that may limit or restrict your vision.

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