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Minnesotans love bicycling, and participation in this healthy activity is growing. According to the Minnesota Department of Transportation, over half of Minnesotans now say they’ve ridden a bike sometime during the year. Of course, many ride regularly, with the numbers who commute by bicycle notably on the rise.

Along with greater numbers of bicycles on the road has come a greater number of bicycle accidents. In 2011, according to the Minnesota Department of Public Safety (DPS), 942 bicyclists sustained injuries in accidents. That number is up from the 882 reported injuries in 2010. The afternoon rush hour has recently been the most dangerous time of day for bicyclists, with the greatest number of accidents reported during that time period.

While the recent increase in total bicycle accidents is disheartening, fewer bicyclists were fatally injured in accidents last year than the year before, or in any year since 2007. In 2010, nine died; and in 2011, five. Although the improvement is a good sign, it is still five too many.

Motorists need to pay attention to cyclists and recognize their right to share Minnesota’s roads. Motorists must take special precautions when cyclists are on the road because cyclists have the disadvantage in any collision with a motor vehicle. This reality also provides a strong motivation for cyclists to exercise caution.

Cyclists can help by making themselves more visible with bright clothing, lights and reflective devices and should never assume a driver sees them. Both motorists and cyclists should obey traffic rules and signals and move predictably so others can accurately anticipate their movements and avoid running into them.

A DPS spokesperson has recently expressed the hope that motorists will become more proficient in interacting with bicycles as they get used to seeing them on the road. More attentive drivers-and bike riders-should result in safer roads for all.

Nevertheless, accidents do happen. If you or a loved one is injured in a cycling accident, please contact an experienced personal injury attorney to explore your legal options.