It is a lengthy and baroque catalog of statutes and ordinances that govern bicycling in Minnesota, along with the complex, connected relationships among the cyclists, pedestrians and motorists who share the road.
The rules are all about management of “traffic,” which the Legislature defines (Minnesota statute 169.011) as “pedestrians, ridden or herded animals, vehicles, streetcars and other conveyances, either singly or together, while using any highway for purposes of travel.”
Bike-wise, these laws precisely cover everything from brakes to reflector tape to rights of way to lane-sharing to parking.
The only problem: Really, nobody is enforcing any of it.
The police are not setting up roadblocks (or even bike path-blocks) to measure cyclists’ speed, much less measure reflective materials (you need at least 20 square inches to be legal at night, by the way). Minneapolis park police have said they cannot remember anyone being ticketed for violating the 10 miles-per-hour speed limit on park bike paths. And, for city cops, it is difficult in the scheme of their wider law enforcement responsibilities to document and catch dangerous drivers who crowd the bike lanes, and cyclists who weave wildly through traffic.
The laws exist nonetheless, and they represent a vital set of accepted community protocols, basic norms, and minimal standards that keep people safe and moving, with as little conflict as possible. But we are all on our own to make these laws work.
This is why Outdoors Weekend compiled The Big Bike Laws Quiz, in the hope that all Minnesotans — at least those who ride, walk, or drive — will gather their friends, family, and loved ones around them, take the quiz together, and recommit to a gentler, more civil life on the state’s roadways, paths, crosswalks, and bike lanes. That’s the idea.