Wednesday, February 24, 2010


@ # * @ * # STOPLIGHT!

Darin Wieneke

February Legal Question Of The Month:
Can I turn left against a red light on my bicycle if the light has not changed for an excessive period of time (or is a motor vehicle/motion-activated traffic light)?

No, but there might be hope on the horizon. The rules of the road for motor vehicles and bicycles are virtually identical. See Minnesota Stat. Sec. 169.222, Subd. 1. At this point, crossing the intersection against a red light is not permitted for most motor vehicles and it is not permitted for bicyclists even if it has stayed red for an unreasonable time or is a motor vehicle/motion-activated traffic light
(a/k/a inductive loop detector traffic light).
The hope for change is in a bill that has been offered in the Minnesota Legislature by State Representative Phyllis Kahn (HF 2616) and State Senator Jim Carlson (SF 2453). Currently, motorcyclists are allowed to raise an affirmative defense to any traffic citation for crossing an intersection against a red light if a red light continues for an unreasonable time or is engineered to change to a green light only after detecting the approach of a motor vehicle.
Minnesota Stat. Sec. 169.06, Subd. 9. This affirmative defense currently does not apply to bicycles. The legislation proposed by Representative Kahn and Senator Carlson would make the affirmative defense also applicable to bicycles.

Until this legislation is passed, you are better off @ # * @ * # at the red light instead of running it.

Darin is a personal injury and wrongful death attorney. In addition to posting periodic triathlon safety articles, he will be answering a legal question of the month. Please send him an e-mail at
if you have a triathlon-related legal question that you would like him to address on MTN.