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Bicycling on the sidewalks in downtown Rochester and other cities may be illegal, but can bike riders really ride through red lights and stop signs in Minnesota?

Biking is being promoted across the state as a way to get some exercise and help keep cars off the roads. And while riding your bike on the sidewalk in downtown Rochester and most other cities in Minnesota has always been against city statutes, while riding in the road, bicycles are subject to the same laws that other vehicles are, right?

But what about red lights and stop signs in Minnesota? Can bicycles just blow through those like you see them do so often? (And I include myself in this category -- I routinely ride my bike and will often just slow down without coming to a full stop at stop signs near our house if there isn't any other traffic. My bad, I know.)

Well, as it turns out, the answer is no. According to the official Minnesota state statues, Sec. 169.222 in subdivision 1, it states "All traffic laws apply" to those operating a bicycle. So, yeah, just riding through a stop sign while on your bike-- even if there's no other traffic coming the other way-- would still be a violation.

But what about at those pesky traffic lights that are triggered by sensors in the road -- those lights that never seem to change to green (because the cycle isn't heavy enough to trip the sensor)?

That's where it gets a little sticky. Minnesota state statute Sec. 169.06 DOES allow motorcycles and bicycles to proceed through a red light -- after first coming to a stop -- when "waiting at the light for a reasonable amount of time and the light does not cycle from red to green."

But to the bigger question, no, bicycles here in Minnesota can't just blow through a stop sign or red light without stopping. At least, not legally, anyway.

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