Bicyclists, pedestrians, and motorists are equally responsible for safety. We all share a responsibility to stay alert, obey the rules of the road, and reach our destinations safely. By following some basic guidelines and laws, we can all enjoy the trails and roadways that the Twin Cities has to offer.
Note: Many local bicycle shops offer regular classes on safe cycling for all abilities and skill levels. The City of Minneapolis Bike Walk Ambassadors also provide instruction and advice on bicycling safety and bicycle maintenance in group settings. Find more on the Bike Walk Twin Cities Web site.
Wear light-colored clothing and/or reflective clothing when walking at night. The more reflectivity, the better: dark clothing is invisible to drivers at night, even when they’re close to you. Shoes with reflective straps or flashing lights are helpful, as are reflective ankle straps and arm bands. You can also purchase reflective tape for your clothing.
Lights or strobes are especially important while walking on dark side streets. Carry a flashlight, or better yet, wear a headlamp. Small flashing lights that clip on a belt provide lightweight visibility. Glowsticks are also great for visibility; there’s a reason kids carry them on Halloween! If you’re walking your dog, you can also purchase a flashing collar.
Walk in well-lit, active locations. Use sidewalks whenever possible, and realize that cars can’t always see you. If no sidewalk is available, walk on the left side of the road so you can see oncoming traffic. When walking through a crosswalk (or near a driveway), make eye contact with the driver to ensure he sees you.
Whenever possible, avoid walking alone at night. If you plan to take a long walk at night, let someone know where you’re going and when you plan to return, or ask them to join you.
Being seen should be your chief concern when riding at night. Minnesota State Law requires night cyclists to be equipped with a headlamp in front and a red reflector in back (but a flashing red rear light is better for visibility).
On your bike, angle your lights and/or reflectors so others can see them. Place reflectors and reflective tape on the bike frame and any moving parts of the bike. Wear light or brightly colored clothing and put reflective tape on your helmet and clothing.
Slow Down. Remember, motorists and cyclists can’t see as well in rain or snow. It takes longer to stop; to be safe, go slower than normal so you can react if a driver can’t see you.
When bike brake pads are wet, they take up to 10 times longer to work. Dry them by applying your brakes well ahead of where you want to slow down. To dry them faster, pump the brakes by applying them, then letting go repeatedly.