The family of 25 year old University of Minnesota student who was tragically killed in 2011 scored a victory for local cyclists recently when their efforts, in conjunction with the Minneapolis Bicycle Advisory Committee, succeeded in getting a bill before the Minnesota State Senate which would greatly enhance the safety of cyclists.  Their actions were spurred by the student’s tragic and untimely death, and the desire to prevent others from being forced to endure similar pain.  The accident had occurred as the student was riding her bike in a designated bike lane near the University.  She was struck and killed by a dump truck which attempted an unsafe right turn across the bike lane in which she was riding.  The truck driver was reportedly unaware that bicycles are considered vehicles under Minnesota law for purposes of right of way, and as such he was obligated to scan for their presence and yield to them before executing his right turn.

The bill the family’s efforts placed before the State Senate, S.F. No. 415, proposed changing the existing law to read (changes underlined):

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 first signal the movement, then drive the motor vehicle into the bicycle lane prior to making the turn, and shall make the turn, but only after it is safe to do so.  The driver shall then make the turn consistent with any traffic markers, buttons, or signs, yielding the right-of-way to any vehicles or bicycles approaching so close as to constitute an immediate hazard.

We at Stark & Stark applaud the courage and tenacity of the family in getting this important legislation presented for consideration.