74-year-old bicyclist killed near Mankatoby Elizabeth Baier, Minnesota Public Radio
St. Paul, Minn. — A 74-year-old bicyclist was killed Sunday evening in Nicollet County after turning into an oncoming semitrailer truck, police said.
The accident occurred shortly before 7 p.m. at the intersection of Highway 14 and County Road 6, according to the Minnesota State Patrol.
The driver of the tractor, Dennis Harms, of Mankato, was headed westbound on Highway 14 and slowed down when he saw Ralph Polzin, a North Mankato resident, on a bicycle, officials said.
Polzin then turned left in front of the truck, was struck and died at the scene, officials said.
This is at least the fourth bicycle-related fatality in Minnesota in recent months.
On July 1, a 60-year-old bicyclist was killed near Bunker Hills Regional Park in Blaine after being struck by a car headed south on the same road, police said.
On June 1, a 15-year-old boy was killed while riding his bicycle near Mankato, according to the Minnesota State Patrol.
And on May 20, a man riding in a bike lane near downtown Minneapolis was killed after being run over by a tractor trailer hauling concrete and asphalt, police said.
Officials urge motorists to drive carefully as the weather warms up and more bicyclists return to the roads.
In 2008, 13 bicyclists were killed on Minnesota roads -- the most since 14 bicyclists were killed in 2000, and a significant increase over the four killed in 2007.
State transportation officials say the increase in the number of bicycle commuters was a factor in the increase in deaths last year.
Officials advise both motorists and bicyclists to bear responsibility for safety on the roads -- bicyclists are responsible for obeying traffic control devices like stoplights and stop signs, while motorists must drive attentively and be aware of bicyclists.
They said the biggest factor in bicyclist- motorist crashes is failure to yield the right of way.