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"Ask A Trooper" talks about pedestrian and bicycle safety

by Bonnie Amistadi

ASK A TROOPER by Sgt. Jesse Grabow of the Minnesota State Patrol

Question: What is the law regarding motorists moving over when meeting a person walking on the roadway? I often walk my dog on the side of the road (but not in the gravel shoulder or grass.) I walk against traffic so the vehicle I'm meeting is very close to me and rarely moves over when the other lane is open and rarely slow down, even to the point of spitting rocks at us. Am I right, are motorists legally supposedly to move over if they can do so safely and slow down? Or am I supposed to quickly get on the shoulder out of fear that they could hit us? Or is it not the law in Minnesota and just myself and some others do it for walkers and bike riders as a courtesy?

Answer: Pedestrian safety is a two-way street. As a reminder, pedestrian traffic walks facing the direction of oncoming traffic, while bicycles must ride in the same direction as traffic. Here is what Minnesota law says about pedestrian traffic. Pedestrians when walking or moving in a wheelchair along a roadway shall, when practicable, walk or move on the left side of the roadway or its shoulder giving way to oncoming traffic. Where sidewalks are provided and are accessible and usable it shall be unlawful for any pedestrian to walk or move in a wheelchair along and upon an adjacent roadway.

While out walking, get off onto the shoulder and move out of the way as far as possible of oncoming traffic. With that said, I would encourage other motorists to extend some courtesy to pedestrians and give them some room and slow down, when possible. Sharing the road is covered quite extensively in the Minnesota drivers manual but, more importantly, I believe its good common sense.

Each year in Minnesota, approximately 40 pedestrians and 10 bicyclists are killed as a result of collisions with motor vehicles. Fifteen percent of those pedestrians killed were not using or crossing the highway properly. Everyone needs to pay attention and do the safe and smart thing.

A portion of state statutes were used with permission from the Office of the Revisor of Statutes. If you have any questions concerning traffic related laws or issues in Minnesota, send your questions to Trp. Jesse Grabow Minnesota State Patrol at 1000 Highway 10 West, Detroit Lakes, MN 56501-2205. (You can follow him on Twitter @MSPPIO_NW or reach him at, jesse.grabow@state.mn.us ).