Bicycle Laws and Ordinances
Whether riding a bike or driving a car, safety is everyone’s responsibility. When riding a bike, being smart and safe means riding predictably and following the law. When driving a motor vehicle, be aware and respectful of other road users and follow the law. Below is a summarized overview of select laws and answers to common questions regarding bicycling in Minneapolis. All referenced laws are found in Minnesota Statute § 169.222 unless otherwise noted. While the City of Minneapolis has endeavored to create and present an accurate description of traffic laws as they pertain to bicycle riders, to the extent that Minnesota Statute or any law conflicts with this guidance, the City of Minneapolis defers to the conflicting statute or other law.
Riding a bicycle
Bicycles, like cars, are vehicles as defined by Minnesota state statute. As vehicle operators, bicyclists have the same rights and responsibilities as operators of any other vehicle on the road with certain exceptions (detailed below). This means bicyclists must obey all traffic laws including:
- Traveling with the flow of traffic unless otherwise signed
- Obeying all stop signs, traffic signals and signs
- Yielding right-of-way to pedestrains in crosswalks (Minn. Stat. § 169.21 Subd. 2)
- Using all lanes and facilties correctly
Exceptions to normal traffic laws for bicyclists
- Bicyclists must travel as close as practicable—not as close as possible—to the right edge of the road except:
- When overtaking or passing another vehicle moving in the same direction
- When preparing for a left turn
- When reasonably necessary to avoid vehicles, narrow lane widths or other hazards that make it unsafe to continue alone the right edge
- When riding in a bicycle lane
- Bicyclists must signal turns and lane changes unless both arms are needed to control the bicycle.
- Bicyclists may ride two abreast in a single travel lane if they do not impede normal and reasonable movement of traffic.
- Riding a bicycle on the sidewalk is prohibited in businesses districts in Minneapolis, including areas of downtown, uptown and the University of Minnesota campus (Minneapolis Ordinance § 490.140).
- When riding on a sidewalk, bicyclists must yield to pedestrians and give an audible signal when passing if necessary. They must also approach intersections slowly and safely.
- A small number of traffic lights require the presence of a car to change to a green light. Bicyclists may proceed through a red light they believe is not responding to them only if all the following criteria are met: (Minn. Stat. § 169.06 Subd. 9)
- The bicyclist has come to a complete stop
- The traffic signal stays red for an unreasonable amount of time
- The bicyclist believes the signal is malfunctioning or needs to be triggered by an automobile to turn green
- There is no cross traffic
- A front light and rear light or rear reflector are required at night.
- Only one person is allowed on a bike unless specifically equipped for more (e.g. tandem or baby seat).
- Bicycles must be equipped with a rear brake that enables the braked wheel to skid on dry, level pavement. A fixed-gear bicycle that can make the rear wheel skid on dry, level pavement is compliant with this requirement.
- Bicyclists are not required to wear a helmet in Minnesota.
- Bicycles may be locked to bike racks, signposts and new parking meter racks. Bicycles cannot be locked to handrails, trees, streetlight poles or traffic light poles (Minneapolis Ordinance § 490.150).
- For information on bicycle parking, check out the City of Minneapolis’ bicycle parking page.
Laws for motor vehicle drivers
- When passing a bicyclist, motor vehicles must pass at a safe distance, never less than three feet from a bicycle. (Minn. Stat. § 169.18 Subd. 3).
- When opening doors, motor vehicle drivers must not interfere with the movement of other traffic, including bicycles (Minn. Stat. § 169.315).
- Motor vehicles may not enter or cross a bike lane except when turning or maneuvering to park (Minn. Stat. § 169.18, Subd. 7).
- When crossing a bike lane to turn, motor vehicles must drive into the bicycle lane prior to turning (Minn. Stat. § 169.18, Subd. 7).
- When crossing a bike lane, motor vehicles may only do so when safe, yielding the right-of-way to bicycles (Minn. Stat. § 169.19, Subd. 1).
- Motor vehicles may not stop or park in bike lanes (Minn. Stat. § 169.34, Subd. 1(a)(14)).
- Motor vehicles may not enter or cross a bike lane to pass another vehicle on the right (Minn. Stat. § 169.18, Subd. 4).
Last updated Jul 17, 2017