Ride Boldly!

Bikes, bicycling, and road safety.

Good Question on WCCO – What Are Minnesota’s Bike Laws?

Last night’s Good Question on WCCO was about bicycle law. I and a member of the Minneapolis Bicycle Ambassadors spoke to WCCO on the topic.

The coverage is pretty reasonable (although they did spell my name wrong online, ooga booga). It hit two of the things I emphasized, although some of the quote was me, some from the BA, and some from the reporter — bikes are legal on the roads, and the 3-foot-passing rule.

There is also good emphasis on the importance of riding/driving predictably, which is another thing I mentioned in my interview, although that footage was not used.

My classic post on the core Minnesota bicycle statute (169.222) remains accurate today for the legal responsibilities of cyclists. Several additional statutes also apply, but 169.222 hits most of the high points.

And for anyone interested in learning more road skills, the Bicycle Alliance of Minnesota offers a variety of educational bicycle courses based on the League of American Bicyclists curriculum, and are a good resource to find other quality courses.

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Author: julie

Julie Kosbab is an online marketing consultant and active transportation advocate living in Anoka County, Minnesota. She was one of Minnesota's only League of American Bicyclists Certified Instructors when certified in 2005. She is a past member of the National Bicycle Tour Directors Association. She has 2 children and 4 bicycles. Find her on Twitter as @betweenstations.


  1. Nice job Julie. For such a contentious issue, I think you and Jason did a good job emphasizing the right message about drivers treating cyclists with due caution on the road.

  2. I’m disappointed that the problem of riding as far right as practicable was not balanced with the idea of taking the lane. It was probably edited out.

  3. Yeah. Based on my past work in PR, what I can tell you is that in any interview, you’ll do 15-20 minutes of footage, they’ll use 45 seconds. So you try to emphasize the one or two things you REALLY want mentioned, try not to say anything that can be turned into a gotcha, and hope for the best. You also try to avoid reporters who are known for big gotchas – Fox9 and KSTP have done a good share of hatchet jobs on cyclists in the past, but WCCO has been pretty fair, and Jason is usually quite balanced on a variety of topics.

    We did talk about how most cyclists will try to allow motorists to pass in narrow lanes when opportunity presents to do so safely, but that’s a bit of a complex concept for a 3-minute piece.

  4. Hey Julie – thanks for this write-up, and sorry about your name being spelled wrong! I’ve fixed that.

    We tried to hit a number of points, and in a 3-minute story, some of it had to go.

    kuan – I’m confused as to your point. Under the law, bicyclists are not generally supposed to be taking the lane – are they?

  5. Jason: I understand completely. Like I said — I have a background in PR and media relations. You have to assume that any interview you give will be cut down significantly, and speak in sound bites and avoid possible gotchas. (And, as I said — you’re not known for trying to pull the gotcha.) Emphasize the big stuff, and hope it gets in. And as far as I’m concerned, the most important issues made the piece, so I’m happy.

    Officially, the law doesn’t address taking the lane. It says “as far to the right as practicable.” But in some situations, that entails the bike moving into the right hand tire indent in the road, effectively taking the lane. This can be because of awful curb-road levelness, debris, dead varmints, etc. In a narrow lane, this definitely blocks the car and is the cyclist taking the lane. So long as conditions warrant it, it is legal — or so I have been told by peeps at MNDOT involved with the Share the Road Minnesota program. It all comes down to defining practicable.

  6. That makes sense. I find it easier to see bikes if they’re actually taking the lane — but it’s also harder to pass them. So it’s a tough one.

  7. Another Good Question would be “what does it mean when a bicyclist takes the lane.” I’ve had some scary situations where I’ve taken the lane and had cars come around me anyway, as though they didn’t understand that I was communicating to them that it’s not safe enough to pass right now and they need to slow to my speed until it is safe enough to pass. I think many complaints from drivers about bicyclists not riding predictably are actually about actions that we intend to be predictable but that are communicating a message drivers don’t understand.