Ask a Trooper: Rules of the road for cars and bicycles; is it illegal to drive barefoot?E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or mail your question to Duluth News Tribune, Attn: Ask the State Trooper, 424 W. First St., Duluth, MN 55802. You may remain anonymous if you choose.
Q: I was riding my bicycle and a car almost hit me because it didn’t give me the right of way. I have been cut off, flipped off and almost hit numerous times. It is getting worse and things need to change. Can you please talk about bicycle safety?
A: I am glad you are OK.
I have recently heard numerous reports similar to yours and I agree that this is a problem. Motorists who may encounter bicyclists need to know that according to M.S.S. 169.222, bicyclists have all the rights and duties as other vehicle operators (except the ones that by nature don’t apply to bikes). That law also says that a motor vehicle overtaking a bicycle (or an individual) proceeding in the same direction on the roadway shall leave a safe distance, but in no case less than three feet of clearance, when passing the bicycle (or individual) and shall maintain clearance until safely past the overtaken bicycle or individual.
For the good of the cause, I think that we need to educate the person on the bicycle as well as the other motorists. A lot of bicyclists fail to obey the rules of the road, especially in smaller communities. Some of the laws for bicyclists include: only one person can ride on a bike (except ones with baby seat properly affixed), they can’t cling to a vehicle, they have to ride as close as practicable to the right-hand curb or edge of the roadway (unless passing, preparing for a left turn, to avoid objects on road, etc.), bicyclists have to travel in the same direction as adjacent
vehicular traffic when riding on a shoulder or lane of traffic, they can ride no more than two abreast and ride within a single lane on a “laned” highway.
Bicyclists also have to yield to pedestrians and give an audible warning if passing a pedestrian on a sidewalk, across a roadway or shoulder on a crosswalk. They also can’t carry packages, bundles or other articles that prevent the operator from having at least one hand on the handle bars or from operating the brakes of the bicycle. There are many other laws, but for now I will end the bicycle rules by saying that bicycles have to display lights and reflectors and night, signal turns at least 100 feet ahead, and the bike has to be equipped with adequate brakes. Minnesota does not have a helmet law for bicyclists, although there may be some ordinances in larger cities about helmets. Of course, we highly recommend wearing a good-fitting, quality helmet when riding a bicycle, as well as wearing light-colored or reflective clothing at night, with the proper lighting and away from vehicle traffic as much as possible.
I hope this article helps. It does not contain all there is to know, but it is a good start by bringing it to the attention of everyone, so thanks for asking.
Q: What are the rules of driving barefoot. Is that illegal? And are flip-flops and/or sandals illegal?
A: Driving barefoot is not against the law, and neither is driving with flip-flops or sandals, but you don’t have as good of control of the brake and accelerator.
We recommend for drivers to wear a pair of good-fitting shoes when driving. Thanks for asking.
Sgt. Curt S. Mowers is a regional information officer for the Minnesota State Patrol.