A bicyclist on the Cedar Lake Regional Trail blew a stop sign at Blake Road and proceeded to cross the four-lane thoroughfare as cars approached from both directions.

The cyclist survived his act of “Bicycle Frogger,” safely arriving on the west side of the street. That’s where he got the “teacher look” — but not a ticket — from a Hopkins police officer standing on the side of the trail that passes just behind Pizza Luce. “That was an example of what not to do,” said Sgt. Michael Glassberg.

Trail riders failing to observe stop signs are causing concern for both motorists and police in the west metro suburb. Nobody has been hit yet, but in recent weeks there have been several near misses at trail crossings on Blake Road, 11th Avenue and NE. 2nd Street, Glassberg said.

Crossings at Blake Road and 11th Avenue have been most problematic. Both are mid-block crossings on streets that have two lanes of traffic in each direction. Though each is marked with “Trail Crossing” signs, the problem arises when a driver in the inside lane stops to allow a cyclist to cross, but a motorist in the outside lane who doesn’t see or expect the cyclist does not. That puts both parties on a collision course when cyclists run stop signs. Motorists have complained, Glassberg said.

Frank Mahoney didn’t take any chances during a recent ride. He pulled up to the curb, waited at the stop sign for a clearing in the traffic, then proceeded across 11th Avenue. That’s the way it’s supposed to be done, Glassberg said.

“Bicyclists must come to a complete stop — at the very least a slow roll and look — and wait until the roadway is clear of cross traffic or vehicles are far enough away to safely cross,” he said.

Once in the roadway, a pedestrian or bicyclist has the right of way. However, pedestrians and bicyclists are not supposed to leave a curb and place themselves in the path of a vehicle that is so close that the driver doesn’t have time to yield, state statutes say.

When it comes to bicycle-vehicle interactions, “both drivers and bicyclists have responsibility,” Glassberg said.

Where can I legally ride?

The Drive tries to be safe and law-abiding when biking, but recently got yelled at by a police officer in downtown Minneapolis. I was on 7th Street between Nicollet Mall and Hennepin Avenue when I pulled out from the curb and rode in the middle of the right lane as I passed a bus at a bus stop and a line of cars parked in front of the Marriott Hotel. Closer to Hennepin, the lane nearest the curb becomes a right-turn lane, so I remained in the middle of the next lane over as not obstruct motorists making a right turn onto Hennepin.

An officer driving behind me passed me and angrily yelled at me to “move over,” as if I was supposed to be right up against the curb and not in a traffic lane.

Was I wrong?

“You were not wrong, the officer was,” said Dorian Grilley, executive director of the Bicycle Alliance of Minnesota. “You are a vehicle on the road and going [straight] through a right turn lane is not a legal option.”

It could be by next year.

The alliance is advocating to change the law to allow bicyclists in a right-turn lane to legally cross an intersection.

Current law states that bicyclists are to ride as close as practicable to the right-hand curb except when reasonably necessary to avoid conditions that make it unsafe to do so.


Follow news about traffic and commuting at The Drive on startribune.com. Got traffic or transportation questions, or story ideas? E-mail drive@startribune.com, tweet @stribdrive or call Tim Harlow at 612-673-7768.