St. Cloud’s Area Planning Organization’s Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Committee aims to promote safety, education, and infrastructure for bicyclists in the city. Although, the League of American Bicyclists gave the city a Bronze rating in 2021. This reflects what other statistics establish: that bicycling in St. Cloud can be improved.

Minnesota Bicycle Accident Statistics

Detailed bicycle accident statistics are not available for St. Cloud, MN. According to the Minnesota Office of Traffic Safety (OTS), 10 bicyclists died in accidents in 2020. By 2022, this number had dropped to six fatalities. An additional 499 bicyclists were hurt that same year. The state recorded a total of 561 bicycle accidents during 2022.

While the number of bicyclist fatalities has been trending downward for several years, the number of overall bicycle crashes in the state has slightly but steadily increased since 2020. That year, there were approximately 500 bicycle injury accidents, a number that increased in 2021 and again in 2022.

Where Bicycle Accidents Happen

Of the state’s 561 bicycle accidents, over 90% of them occurred in cities and towns with populations greater than 5,000. The list of cities that met this threshold would have included St. Cloud, one of the more populated cities in Minnesota. A total of 105 bicycle accidents, including 93 injury wrecks, happened in cities of St. Cloud’s size.

The most fatalities occurred in cities with between 10,000 and 24,999 residents. Cities like Minneapolis, with populations above 250,000, saw the greatest number of overall bicycle wrecks.

Circumstances Under Which Bicycle Accidents Occur

Fifty-one percent of fall bicycle crashes, 291 in total, happened when a bicyclist was attempting to cycle across traffic. Four of the state’s bicyclist fatalities also occurred under these circumstances. A bicyclist rides across traffic when they cross over lanes of traffic traveling in a different direction, such as might occur at an intersection.

The next most common situation that led to a bicycle accident was when the bicyclist was traveling in the same direction as traffic. A total of 103 bicycle accidents happened in Minnesota under these circumstances, including crashes that injured 93 cyclists. The situation in which the fewest number of accidents happened was when the bicyclist was stopped or standing still. 

Demographics Of Bicyclists Injured And Killed

Bicyclists aged 19 years old and younger were the most likely to be killed in bicycle accidents. This age group experienced four of the state’s six bicyclist fatalities. One cyclist who was killed fell into the 40 to 44-year-old age group, and another was between the ages of 50 and 54 years old.

The younger age group also experienced the greatest number of serious injuries. Of the state’s 82 seriously injured bicyclists in 2022, more than one-fourth of them were 19 years of age or younger. The next age group with the most serious injuries was that comprising individuals between 55 and 69 years of age. This group saw 21 instances of serious injury.

Factors Contributing To Bicycle Accidents

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, failing to yield the right of way is one of the leading causes of fatal bicycle accidents in the United States. This includes both drivers and bicyclists, who must both follow the same rules of the road. Other factors that increase the risk of a bicycle accident include:

  • Vehicles traveling at higher speeds
  • Alcohol usage or drug usage by either the motorist or bicyclist
  • Drivers who do not see bicyclists on the road 
  • Motorists who are too tired or too distracted to drive safely

The risk of a serious or fatal bicycle injury accident increases significantly if the bicyclist is not wearing a helmet. According to the American College of Surgeons, wearing a properly fitted bicycle helmet can reduce the risk of a fatal injury by one-third and cut the risk of a head injury in half.

Biking Trails And Infrastructure In St. Cloud

There are numerous biking trails around the City of St. Cloud of varying lengths. These include the five-mile Beaver Island Trail, the 29-mile Glacial Lakes State Trail, and the 60-mile Lake Wobegon Trail. In 2022, St. Cloud became part of U.S. Bike Route 20, a 188-mile-long trail connecting St Cloud with North Dakota.

In its 2021 report on St. Cloud, the League of American Bicyclists noted the city’s “Complete Streets” Policy. This policy, enacted in 2011, calls for bicycle-friendly facilities to be considered in all road projects, including street construction, repaving, and reconstruction. The League encouraged St. Cloud to consistently follow its policy to improve bicycle infrastructure. 

Other improvements suggested by the League included having St. Cloud’s Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Committee meet more frequently and increasing the number of bicycle parking spots throughout the city. 

Minnesota Bicycle Safety Laws

Bicycling safely in St. Cloud requires both bicyclists and motorists to obey the rules of the road. 

If you are riding a bike, you are expected to obey the same traffic laws as all other motorists, with one notable exception. Bicyclists may run a red light if they have come to a complete stop, waited a reasonable amount of time for the light to change, and ensured there was no cross-traffic.

Like many states, Minnesota has enacted a “safe passing” law. This law requires drivers in St. Cloud and throughout the state to give bicyclists at least three feet of clearance when they are overtaking a bicyclist.

Finally, Minnesota does not require bicyclists to wear a helmet when riding. However, wearing one is an important precaution that can prevent you from suffering a serious injury in the event of a wreck.

The Verdict On Bike Riding In St. Cloud

Like other larger towns in Minnesota, riding a bicycle in St. Cloud is not free of risks. Young riders and those in their 50s are especially at risk of being injured or killed in a bicycle accident. Although there is an abundance of trails for residents to take advantage of, the city must do more to implement its own policies in order to make St. Cloud a more bike-friendly community.