by Harry Greenberg | May 29, 2009 • Summer in Minnesota can only mean one thing…(besides the fishing season)
Open Season on Pedestrians and Cyclists
When it comes to Minnesota roads bigger is always better. We have always known there is a pecking order when it comes to Minnesota’s roads, and cyclists and pedestrians don’t fare nearly as well as motorized vehicles. However with the recent traffic accidents which resulted in not one fatality but two fatalities, there is increasing concern that our public officials are not really serious about protecting either group when it comes to sharing the road with motor vehicles.
What makes these accidents particularly upsetting is that in both cases, pedestrian and cyclist were where the law proscribes them to be, (in the crosswalk and in the bike lane). As bicycle commuters who share the streets with motorists every day, we can no longer remain silent or on the sidelines. That time has certainly arrived to make our voices and feelings heard.
A police spokesman quoted in the local media had this to say:
“Buses are very large vehicles with numerous blind sights.”
Well they are not the only ones with blind sights. Our council members, and mayor and other elected officials who routinely encourage us to bike and walk to work (May 14th as you may recall, was Bike and Walk to work day and heavily promoted by the city) have been noticeably silent on these fatalities along with the repsonse of the police department which has at this moment in time has not issued any citation to either driver.
NOW, if our elected officials truly represent us and believe (as they proclaim repeatedly) that we are entitled to use and share the roads with motor vehicles, they must speak out.
But in order for that to happen you must speak out first. Because until our elected officials hear from you, they may think that cyclist and pedestrian lives lost to ‘blind spots or sights’ are inconsequential, not worthy of response and can be put on the back burner.
When we are united in our response, and act accordingly, we become a constituency that cannot be ignored. Bicyclist and pedestrian safety will appear on their radar and they will start providing answers for us. For all who believe the current status quo is completely unacceptable, we invite you to make the month of June CALL YOUR COUNCIL MEMBER MONTH. Start with Council Member Lisa Goodman, after all it is her ward in which the fatalities occurred.
LISA GOODMAN: Phone (612) 673-2207 Fax (612) 673-3940
Tell all your friends to call her and,mass mail this information to your address lists. Put it up on your favorite list serves. We want Lisa to get the message in a big way. Then move on to other council members you would like to share your concerns with, for instance the council member who represents you.
Here are some talking points when you Contact Lisa-please don’t be rude or disrespectful because Lisa is an important ally-she just doesn’t know it yet.
What is your position on the two very serious traffic accidents in your ward which resulted in two fatalities, where neither driver was issued a citation after a bus and truck hit both of them.?
Are you prepared to speak out for and protect the rights of people who are not motorists to use the streets in your ward safely?
Are you going to call for an investigation exploring why neither driver was issued a citation, when drivers are routinely given citations for much less serious infractions like broken turn signals or expired tabs-not life or death situations by any means.
Are you familiar with the following statute (read it to her) and are you willing to advocate on behalf of non-motorists in your ward when laws protecting cyclists are not enforced?
169.19 TURNING, STARTING, AND SIGNALING.
Subdivision 1.Turning at intersection.
The driver of a vehicle intending to turn at an intersection shall do so as follows:
(g) Whenever it is necessary for the driver of a motor vehicle to cross a bicycle lane adjacent to the driver’s lane of travel to make a turn, the driver shall drive the motor vehicle into the bicycle lane prior to making the turn, and shall make the turn, yielding the right-of-way to any vehicles approaching so close thereto as to constitute an immediate hazard
For further information please contact:
The Bike Commuter Institute – www.bikecommterinstitute.org or