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Minnesota Becomes the Tenth State to Promote Cyclist Safety with New Laws


June 2017

Could riding a bicycle in Minnesota become a safer proposition? Some advocates believe that a new transportation bill that went into effect in early June 2017 might have just such an impact.

Understanding the Changes

The bill significantly expanded the number of situations in which motorists could legally move past bicyclists. According to news reports, drivers no longer have to wait until they're in designated passing zones to change lanes and give riders more distance. It's now acceptable to pass when:

  • Cyclists aren't making left turns or signaling that they're about to perform such maneuvers,
  • Drivers adhere to other laws and pass by entering the left lane or with no less than three feet or 50 percent of their own vehicle's width worth of clearance, and
  • The bike rider in question is traveling in the same direction as the motorist.

Are Things Really Safer for Bicyclists?

Motorists' new ability to pass bicyclists in more situations is unquestionably welcome to any rider who's had to share the road with larger vehicles or persistent tailgaters. The law shouldn't be taken as a perfect solution, however.

For instance, drivers are only supposed to go around riders when they deem it safe to do so. In other words, there's still plenty of room for misjudgment and the potential tragedies that come along with it. Motorists who fail to recognize or heed cyclists' left turn signals may also deal them catastrophic personal injuries.

On the other hand, numerous states have already enacted similar rules, so observers say that such legislation has proven itself to work. While this certainly bodes well for bike enthusiasts and eco-conscious commuters, bicyclists shouldn't stop wearing their helmets or riding defensively just yet.

Safeguarding Those Whom the Law Fails to Protect

Legislators are adopting more responsible stances on protecting everyone who uses Minnesota roads, but changes are slow to take effect. Motorists who cause wrecks may still deny culpability, and without legal representation, the victims often suffer the adverse results.

If you or a loved one has sustained harm in a cycling accident, it's critical to understand how the law works. Discussing your case with a proactive, experienced attorney may make it easier to leverage your rights and seek compensation. To learn more about your options, contact Schwebel, Goetz & Sieben today for a private, free consultation at 612-377-7777 or toll free at 1-800-752-4265.