Last year deadliest for Minn. bicyclists since 2000

The state Transportation Department reports 2008 was the deadliest year for Minnesota bicyclists since 2000. Thirteen bicyclists were killed in traffic accidents -- up from four the previous year.

State officials say the increase is due in part to more bicyclists on the roads. Nick Mason is vice-chair of the State Non-Motorized Transportation Advisory Committee. He said last year's spike in gas prices led to a surge in the number of commuters who bicycle to work.

"We had motorists that weren't necessarily ready and expecting to see so many bicyclists out there," Mason said. "And we also had bicyclists who were new bicyclists and not as familiar with the rules of the road."

Mason said motorists can help reduce fatalities by slowing down and giving bikes the required three-foot clearance. He said cyclists need to obey traffic signals and should wear blinking lights at night.

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