Bicycling on the sidewalks in downtown Rochester may be illegal, but can bike riders really ride through red lights and stop signs in Minnesota?

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Riding your bike on the sidewalk downtown has always been against Rochester city statutes, but the city has recently launched a campaign to make sure cyclists are aware they belong on the road. (Which is a good thing -- I know I've almost been hit by several bicycles while walking downtown recently!)

But what about red lights and stop signs? Can bicycles just blow through those like you see them do so often? (And I include myself in this category -- I routinely ride my bike and will often just slow down without coming to a full stop at stop signs near our house where traffic is pretty light.)

Well, as it turns out, at a stop sign, the answer is no. According to this KARE-11 story, "Bikers are legally obligated to stop at stop signs in Minnesota." But what about at those pesky traffic lights that are triggered by sensors in the road -- those lights that never seem to change to green (because the cycle isn't heavy enough to trip the sensor)?

That's where it gets a little sticky. The story says Minnesota law allows motorcycles and bicycles to proceed through a red light -- after first coming to a stop -- when "waiting at the light for a reasonable amount of time and the light does not cycle from red to green."

So, no, bicycles here in Minnesota can't just blow through a stop sign or red light without stopping. At least, not legally, anyway!