Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Classic motorist vs. cyclist conversation (Legalities of issues commuters face daily)

A recent post on Perfect Duluth Day managed to strike up quite the conversation. If you're a bike commuter I'm willing to bet you've had the conversation, you know, the one about you having equal rights and them saying, yea, but...

I thought about this conversation quite a bit tonight, and paid extra attention to notice the vehicles around me and also the drivers in the vehicles. One thing stood out at me on the ride home tonight. A LOT of people still don't use their headlights during the day, or even at dusk (I left work at 5:30).

Dear people driving cars in Duluth, PLEASE, take the half second to turn your lights on. Most cars will even do it for you automatically if you move the switch just one time. It will help other motorist see you and it will help you see me. Also, it's probably in violation of the law...

Subdivision 1. Lights to be displayed. (a) Every vehicle upon a highway within this state:(1) at any time from sunset to sunrise;(2) at any time when it is raining, snowing, sleeting, or hailing; and(3) at any other time when visibility is impaired by weather, smoke, fog or other conditions or there is not sufficient light to render clearly discernible persons and vehicles on the highway at a distance of 500 feet ahead;shall display lighted headlamps, lighted taillamps, and illuminating devices, as hereinafter, respectively, required for different classes of vehicles, subject to exceptions with respect to parked vehicles and law enforcement vehicles, as hereinafter stated. In addition to the other requirements of this paragraph, every school bus transporting children upon a highway within this state, at any time from a half-hour before sunrise to a half-hour after sunset, shall display lighted headlamps, lighted taillamps, and illuminating devices as required by this paragraph, except that the operator shall use the lowermost distribution of light specified in section 169.60 unless conditions warrant otherwise. (b) When requirement is hereinafter declared as to the distance from which certain lamps and devices shall render objects visible or within which such lamps or devices shall be visible, these provisions shall apply during the time stated in this section upon a straight level unlighted highway under normal atmospheric conditions unless a different time or condition is expressly stated and unless otherwise specified the location of lamps and devices shall refer to the center of such lamps or devices. Parking lamps shall not be used in lieu of headlamps to satisfy the requirements of this section. Subd. 2. Certain violations; negligence. Notwithstanding section 169.96, a violation of subdivision 1, paragraph (a), clause (2), is not negligence per se or prima facie evidence of negligence.

While you're at it, clear off your windows too- goofballs...

(3) any sign, poster, or other nontransparent material upon the front windshield, sidewings, or side or rear windows of the vehicle, other than a certificate or other paper required to be so displayed by law or authorized by the state director of the Division of Emergency Management or the commissioner of public safety.

More pet peeves being a commuter.
I see cars pass on the right on London Road DAILY. If I see a car taking a left ahead of me I look back and make sure no one is going to run me down.


Q: Dear Trooper,My husband and I have a cabin on the west side of Mille Lacs lake in Garrison. One day I had my neices up for some swimming and when we were done we waited on the side of the road, which is Hwy 169, for the cars to pass. The drivers of 4 cars were courteous enough to stop to let us cross. As we began to cross a 5th car decided to pass the 4 stopped cars on the shoulder side of the road. We would have been killed if I hadn't jumped back and knocked the girls back down the hill toward the lake. On a seperate occasion, in the same area, I saw a car in front of me do that same maneuver to a police car in front of him, that was slowing to make a left turn. I thought it was illegal to pass on the shoulder. I pulled up to the patrol car in the gas station to ask the officer about it and he ignored me and kept walking. Is this procedure of passing legal and if not is there anything I can do to prevent this from happening in front of my vacation home. Thank you for your time and input.
Angie,Mora, MN

Angie, I am sorry for your experiences. Yes, passing on the right is NOT legal in Minnesota, unless there is a lane provided for that purpose, or if you are on a multi-lane roadway. Passing by using the shoulder (whether paved or unpaved) or turn lanes is NOT legal. We do write tickets for it, it is a moving vioilation that goes on your record and your insurance may go up if cited for it. I don't know why the officer "ignored" you and walked away, except that it's possible he could not hear you, or was on a mission of sorts, but he should have acknowledged you. Most violations like that have to be observed by police for us to enforce the law on them (there are some exceptions). As far as what you can do about it? Nothing. We don't have control over other drivers or their vehicles. We can only control ourselves and how we respond to others. If you are a pedestrian and it happens and you get a license plate, call the police and ask them to investigate for possible charges if you want, but you will have to testify if they charge and it goes to court. Prosecutors have to agree to charge in those cases too, and they will need a written statement from you as well. Thanks for writing, and good luck.
Sgt. Curt S. MowersPublic Information OfficeMN State Patrol

1 comment:

Tone Coughlin said...

London Road shoulder passers...I hate that too! Whenever I have to slow down for someone that is turning, I notice people start to veer to the right behind me. So I move a little more to the right and block them, whoa that pisses people off!