Monday, April 26, 2010

Riding your bicycle to Target Field

In an interview with Twins president Dave St. Peter, he was asked if there were any surprises during the ballpark's opening home stand. His reply:

The number of people riding a bike to baseball games. We were at 460 bikes for a game. We have to lead the league in people biking to baseball games. We might be able to get to 1,000 bikes at some point. That's just stunning to me. It's an example of people loving to bike in this community. We have to add more bike racks, which we'll be working on in weeks to come.
I think that's pretty neat. I rode my bike to all three games so far. It's great that the Twins are promoting this.

There are only a few issues/questions I have about biking down to the ballpark:

1. It's a clusterfuck by the lightrail station.

They use the northwest corner of the promenade as a loading area to light rail passengers. Everyone seems confused as they pour out of gate 6 toward the rail platform, only to be turned to the end of the line back toward gate 14. It's a mess, but there's not really a better way to do it. I never take the LRT, so I wouldn't care except that I need to get my bike from the promenade to westbound 5th street. And it's a clusterfuck. I've started to just lock my bike by the Ford Center instead of wade through that muck.

2. They need to finish that Cedar Lake trail.

They had planned to connect the beautiful bike trail from Uptown and the lakes all the way to the Mississippi river, with a stop at the new ballpark. Unfortunately, the path curls away from TF at the last instant, shooting you out near Lee's Liquor Lounge. It looks like they're working on it, but who knows?

3. Having a few beverages and biking home.

Alright Hamilton associates BizMarkie, Daymonster and Bagman all claim you can receive a citation for Biking While Under the Influence. I say bullshit. I contacted my old business partner Luke, who has worked in DUI court and is a mere months from taking the bar exam. He said, "bullshit."

Let's argue it out in the comments. And vote in the upper right-hand corner of this page.


Carl said...

I think the citation is actually for "Not Biking While Under the Influence."

drunk + not biking = citation

drunk + biking = you good

Anonymous said...

The Minneapolis city code says that traffic laws apply to the operation of bicycles on city streets. It cites the folowing state statute:
Subdivision 1.Traffic laws apply. Every person operating a bicycle shall have all of the rights and duties applicable to the driver of any other vehicle..."
So then you have to look at the state traffic laws. The statute that defines DWI is MS 169A.03. Subdivision 15 specifically excludes human-powered vehicles.
"Subd. 15.Motor vehicle.'Motor vehicle' means every vehicle that is self-propelled and every vehicle that is propelled by electric power obtained from overhead trolley wires. The term includes motorboats in operation and off-road recreational vehicles, but does not include a vehicle moved solely by human power."
So...riding a bike drunk is a really bad idea, especially on crowded streets, but I would guess that you can't get cited for DWI. Maybe reckless or careless operation or something like that; public idiocy perhaps, flagrant moving stupidity, but not DWI. BTW, I ain't no lawyer so do not take this as legal advice.


Anonymous said...

The plot thickens...

Another state law (MS169.011, Subd. 92) defines vehicle as follows: " 'Vehicle' means every device in, upon, or by which any person or property is or may be transported or drawn upon a highway, excepting devices used exclusively upon stationary rails or tracks."

So, a bicycle is a vehcle but not a motor vehicle. Makes sense, but still doesn't exactly answer the question. I think I'll change my vote to 'yes' just to be safe.


haasertime said...

agreed Carl. It's just common sense.

Yeah frontrowseats, that's what Brex and I had found too. Along with this delightfully vague paragraph:

Subdivision 1.Traffic laws apply.Every person operating a bicycle shall have all of the rights and duties applicable to the driver of any other vehicle by this chapter, except in respect to those provisions in this chapter relating expressly to bicycles and in respect to those provisions of this chapter which by their nature cannot reasonably be applied to bicycles."

Although they probably could charge you with DUI on a bike (afterall, they have convicted people of DUI though not driving and not drunk) they probably wouldn't even try unless you somehow killed someone.

They could and will definitely pin all sorts of other things on you, like public intoxication or whatever.

But really, they're not going to give you a DUI. For an example of the city's relaxed attitude toward biking a drinking, just look at those Pedal Pubs.

Anonymous said...

I’m going to make this kind of quick, because I’m all legaled out right now, but I second your friend’s call of “bullshit,” but with one major, important caveat. That caveat is the general principle is that if you give the police reason to notice you, you’ll get noticed. In effect, I can see no real way that anyone’s going to get a DWI biking home from a Twins game unless they get into an accident that results in an injury OR the bike rider does something similarly dumb that attracts police attention.

In reality, some kind of misdemeanor, like public drunkenness or drunk and disorderly are more likely charged offenses than DWI, as DWIs are a pain in the butt for everyone involved. If the bike rider does cause a serious injury to himself or another person, though, I can almost guarantee that he will be charged with DWI. Odds are that it will be pleaded down to one of the aforementioned misdemeanors (precisely because DWIs are a pain in the butt to try), but that depends on the city/district attorney and whether your prosecutor is a real gunner.

So, basically it’s the same advice as for life: don’t be stupid and you won’t get in trouble. While technically illegal, riding a bike drunk isn’t all that dangerous and cops know it: unlike a car, you don’t have 2 thousand pounds of steel to bludgeon someone else with while riding a bike.

Of course add the caveat that while I am a week away from being done with law school, I’m not yet legally empowered to give legal advice, so take everything with a grain of salt. Legal ethics requires that I add that last part.

Anonymous said...

Nobody has EVER been convicted of DUI while bicycling in the state of Minnesota. Look it up.

Daymonster said...

I'm still not sold. I think it's possible, yet highly unlikely. Though I have no real evidence to back that up. I did see one Yahoo Answer that said you could but he didn't seem too credible.

Should we interview some people? Besides luke?

millie said...

Who cares whether or not you can get a citation?

What gives me nightmares is the thought of some drunken bicycler veering into the path of my two thousand pound vehicle.

Yeah right, "riding a bike drunk isn't all that dangerous".

Der Punto said...

Not sure if anyone remembers this story but it is hilarious and might add to this debate.

MN man gets DWI on motorized Lazy Boy:

I also found a youtube video from a defense attorny explaining a few points. This video combined with prior posts of MN statutes leads me to believe a person CAN get a DWI while riding their bike.

soup said...

You can still pop wheelies and stuff though, right?

Daymonster said...


That is terrifying. Luckily I was referring to the nice straight bike path that takes me all the way home from target field.

bizmarkie507 said...

damnit haas

Hindo said...

It's always a fun argument. Ask any DWI lawyer and the closest you'll get to an answer is "no" (lawyers will never give a solid answer to anything). No one in MN has ever been formally charged with a DWI on a bicycle. The legal description of a vehicle does not include a bicycle, but the law does make all vehicle laws applicable to bicycles. Someone could be charged with DWI on a bike, then the courts would make a ruling and we would have an answer. Until that day, it will be a great debate to wage while you're drinking. Also...just as a side note MN statute 340a.902 says the "public drunkenness" is NOT a crime, nor can a city make it illegal. It's ok to be drunk in public, as long as you aren't committing another crime and aren't creating a hazard to your's or the public's safety.