In Minnesota, there are “motor vehicles” and “vehicles” also known as “modes of transportation” (MOT). A “motor vehicle” is defined as every vehicle which is self-propelled and every vehicle which is propelled by electric power obtained from overhead trolley wired. Motor vehicle does not include an electric personal assistive mobility device or a vehicle moved solely by human power.     

    “Vehicle” means every device in, upon, or by which any person or property is or may be transported or drawn upon a highway, excepting devices used exclusively upon stationary rails or tracks. A vehicle is required to comply with all traffic laws that apply to the roadway/sidewalk/trail on which they are traveling. This includes:

    •    Riding only with the flow of traffic while on the street
    •    Obeying all signs and signals
    •    Using signals for turning
    •    Using lanes as designated

    What is the definition of a bicycle?

    “Bicycle” means every device capable of being propelled solely by human power upon which any person may ride, having two tandem wheels, and including any device generally recognized as a bicycle though equipped with two front or rear wheels. Bicycle includes an electric-assisted bicycle, as defined in subdivision 27 in the Minnesota Statute. Bicycle does not include scooters, motorized foot scooters, or similar devices.

    Does a bicyclist have to obey the same traffic laws as a motorist?

    Yes. Minnesota Statute 169.222, Subdivision 1: Every person operating a bicycle shall have all of the rights and duties applicable to the driver of any other vehicle by this chapter…

    Does a bicyclist have to ride with the direction of traffic?

    Yes. A bicyclist on the roadway in a traffic lane should ride in the direction of traffic, as should a bicyclist on the shoulder or in a bike lane. Minnesota Statute 169.222, Subdivision 1 and 4(b): If a bicycle is traveling on a shoulder of a roadway, the bicycle shall travel in the same direction as adjacent vehicular traffic.

    Is it legal for a bicyclist to ride on the sidewalk?

    Sometimes. Minnesota law does not require bicyclists to ride on the sidewalk and does not generally recommend it because of safety hazards to the bicyclist and to pedestrians. Most importantly, sidewalks are not designed for bicycle travel speed. (BikeMN recommends that children 10 and under ride on the sidewalk and under the leadership of an adult as they may not yet have developed the physical skills and cognitive ability to navigate roadways.)

    Minnesota Statute 169.222, Subdivision 4: Minnesota law does not prohibit sidewalk riding unless in a business district or where prohibited by city ordinance… While riding on a sidewalk a bicyclist should move at pedestrian speeds and must also continue to give an audible signal when passing other pedestrians and yield to other pedestrians on the sidewalk.

    Shannon Stassen, City Administrator, informs that it’s “illegal to bike on downtown sidewalks (in Crookston) for safety reasons. Other sidewalks it is legal to bike on them.”  

    Does a bicyclist have to signal their turns or lane changes?

    Yes, but not always. Minnesota Statute 169.222, Subdivision 8: An arm signal to turn right or left shall be given continuously during the last 100 feet traveled by the bicycle before turning, unless the arm is needed to control the bicycle, and shall be given while the bicycle is stopped waiting to turn.