By Matt Brickman
MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Whether you’re on two wheels or four, it’s easy to get a little frustrated when sharing the road.
A lot of that boils down to some confusion about what cyclists can and can’t do on the roads.
So for some clarification, I went for a ride with Officer Michael Kirchen from the Minneapolis Police Department’s Bike Patrol.
Let’s start with one of the most common questions: How much of the road can a bike occupy?
“The cyclist can take a lane of traffic, but they should go the far right, as practical,” Kirchen said.
That doesn’t mean riding your bike in the gutter. The rule of thumb is cyclists should be just right of the center in a traffic lane.
Being predictable helps motorists know when it’s safe to pass. And when they do pass, drivers should treat bikes like slow-moving vehicles.
“When they’re passing a bicyclist, slow down, give them enough room, given them that three feet, more if possible,” he said. “And then pass them at a safe speed.”
And cyclists need to have a little patience.
“A lot of times downtown, especially for the downtown bike officers on patrol, we see the bikes just go through red lights,” Kirchen said.
That’s illegal. Same thing for what’s called “salmoning,” which is riding against the flow traffic.
“That’s against the law. The bikes are not supposed to go the wrong way down one-ways,” he said.
The idea is, if bikes and cars are going to share the road – they have to follow the same rules.
“It doesn’t matter if it’s downtown or, you know, out here in the neighborhoods or even out in the suburbs,” Kirchen said. “If a bike is out on the road, they have to go by the same laws, regulations and traffic laws as the cars do.”