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June 12, 2024

Minnesota on Track to Become the Safest State to Ride a Bicycle

By: Dr. Ash Lovell, electric bicycle policy and campaign director, and Matt Moore, policy counsel

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New, nation-leading legislation is set to protect vulnerable road users, more clearly define electric bicycles, and require the implementation of Complete Streets policies.

On May 24, Minnesota leapt forward in a statewide effort to create safer streets for all road users as Governor Tim Walz signed HF5247 into law, placing Minnesota at the leading edge of bicycle safety in the nation.

PeopleForBikes applauds the sponsors of this landmark legislation for their leadership and vision: Senators Liz Bolden, Kelly Morrison, and Scott Dibble and Representatives Lucy Rehm, Steve Elkins, Frank Hornstein, Larry Kraft, Brad Tabke, and Andy Smith. PeopleForBikes also recognizes the Bicycle Alliance of Minnesota for their pivotal advocacy work and legislative leaders Senator Scott Dibble and Rep. Frank Hornstein for shepherding this important legislation through a very busy session.

“We are committed to partnerships with local leaders and nonprofit organizations, including PeopleForBikes,” said Michael Wojcik, executive director of the Bicycle Alliance of Minnesota. “Through our collaborative efforts, we have once again passed nation-leading policy improving the equity, health, and safety of all Minnesotans."

The bicycle-related aspects of this transportation bill go further than any other state-level bicycle safety policy by recognizing that motorists bear a responsibility for keeping vulnerable road users, like people walking and riding bicycles, safe from collisions with their much larger, more dangerous vehicles. The new law updates driver education standards to include information about driving amongst vulnerable road users, the rights and responsibilities of vulnerable road users, best practices to minimize dangers and avoid collisions, and the duties of a driver when encountering vulnerable road users.

Additionally, the law updates the definition of an “electric-assisted bicycle” to more accurately define what is not an electric-assisted bicycle due to it exceeding lawful limits on speed or power. Electric bicycles that can switch between one or more of the three classes, called multiple-mode e-bikes, must not be able to go faster than 20 miles per hour when the throttle is engaged. The policy clearly distinguishes between electric bicycles that fit within the three-class system and devices that go too fast or have too much power and are therefore not electric bicycles.

Finally, the legislation requires that the state commissioner of the Department of Transportation must implement a Complete Streets policy in consultation with local governments, regional agencies, and other stakeholders. Complete Streets policies require the planning, scoping, and maintenance of roads to address the safety and accessibility needs of all road users, specifically those walking, biking, and rolling. Previous statutory language in Minnesota made Complete Streets implementation much more discretionary. 

Protected, connected bicycle infrastructure and a clear delineation of responsibility and threats for vulnerable road users will make Minnesota the safest state to ride a bicycle, and PeopleForBikes sees this landmark legislation as a model for other states to follow suit. Minnesotans can look forward to more and better educational resources, safer places to ride, and a clearer understanding of what is and what is not an electric bicycle as they move about their state.

Related Topics:

Electric BikesBike Safety
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