City and county staff, along with volunteers, are taking to the street to encourage bicyclists to stay off downtown sidewalks.

Representatives from Rochester Police Department Bike Patrol, Public Works, Olmsted County Public Health, We Bike Rochester, United by Bike, and the Rochester Public Library will join forces from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Thursday corner of Historic Third Street and First Avenue Southwest to encourage bicycle and pedestrian safety in downtown Rochester.

Bicycle riding on sidewalks is not allowed in Rochester's Downtown Rochester Business District. Cyclists must walk their bicycles on sidewalks or ride their bicycle in the street in the district that is bordered on the by Second Street Northwest and North East, on the west by Fourth Avenue Northwest and Southwest, on the East largely by the Zumbro River and stretching as far south as Sixth Street Southwest.

Rochester Public Works will soon mark the zone with signs and sidewalk stencils to help advise bicyclists, and violations are subject to a $75 fine, plus the associated court costs.

Sgt. Jon Turk of the Rochester Police Department's Community Action Team noted 45 percent of all bicycle-car collisions take place in intersections with bikes riding off of sidewalks into the street. Drivers don't expect bike traffic to come off of the sidewalk at cycling speeds.

Riders are safest when bicycles are as visible as possible, which means sharing the road, he said.

During the Thursday's on First event, city and county staff, along with volunteers, will be on hand with maps of the business district and information on how bikes, pedestrians and cars can share the road safely. It will also be a chnace to meet members of the re-established Rochester Police Department's Bike Patrol.

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