The 2015 “Bicycles On The Freeways” Incidents

March 24, 2017 at 4:28 pm | Posted in Bicycling | Comments Off on The 2015 “Bicycles On The Freeways” Incidents

On June 16, 2015 in St. Paul a 14-year-old girl was bicycling from her friend’s house home and followed directions from her phone- which led her down I-94 at rush hour. Mn/DOT traffic cameras immortalized the incident. In the first we see her riding down the shoulder; traffic management turns on the flashing yellow lane control signals for the outside lane to warn motorists.

In the second video, state patrol has arrived and is talking to her, then escorts her off the nearest exit ramp for her to continue her trip on city streets. At least she was wearing her riding helmet.

Riding a bicycle on a freeway in Minnesota is of course illegal,

169.305 Controlled-Access Rules and Penalties
 Subdivision 1
(c) The commissioner of transportation may by order, and any public authority may by ordinance, with respect to any controlled-access highway under their jurisdictions prohibit or regulate the use of any such highway by pedestrians, bicycles, or other nonmotorized traffic, or by motorized bicycles, or by any class or kind of traffic which is found to be incompatible with the normal and safe flow of traffic.

Although the situation is ambigous in some places like the Cannon Falls bypass, in the Twin Cities all the interstates are clearly posted. The state patrol let her off with a warning rather than a citation. This of course leads to interesting questions on our blinding trust in technology; “phone guides motorist into the lake” incidents happen now and then. And there was that Tesla incident where a man was watching Harry Potter movies while the car drove him into a semi.

In the Twin Cities, phones have “outsmarted” local agencies; guiding motorists on a shortcut through a ritzy Edina neighborhood that’s a lot shorter than the official detour on freeways, much to the distress of residents. As a last resort the city finally closed down the street.

A 14-year-old doing something clueless and dangerous isn’t shocking, but the same summer there were three more incidents, involving adults. The very next day a man was bicycling on the freeway in Woodbury, but exited before state troopers could intercept him. A third incident took place on August 19 in New Brighton. In this case the man was actually in the traffic lanes; the teenager at least had enough sense to use the shoulder.
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Then on September 9 the fourth incident didn’t have a happy ending when a man was killed bicycling on I-94 near W. Broadway in Minneapolis. There’s endless debate about where bicycles do and do not belong, but I don’t think anyone disputes an urban freeway is not the place.

 

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