Bicyclist Safety

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration encourages all road users, including motorists and bicyclists, to respect each other and foster a safer transportation environment. Bicycles on the roadway have the same rights, and responsibilities as motorized vehicles. 

Michigan law requires motorists to give bicyclists at least 3 feet of space when passing. Some Michigan municipalities have enacted ordinances requiring motorists to give bicyclists 5 feet of space when passing. These ordinances supersede the state law. In these jurisdictions, motorists are required to increase the amount of space given to bicyclists. As of October 1, 2019 these communities include: Ann Arbor, Dearborn, Grand Rapids, Kalamazoo, Kalamazoo Township, Muskegon, Norton Shores, Oshtemo Township, and Portage.

Bicyclists Should:

  • Ride with traffic and follow the rules of the road.
  • Use hand signals when turning or stopping.
  • Obey traffic signals, signs, and markings.
  • When dark, a white light on the front and rear red reflector are required.
  • Ride on the trail, paved shoulder, bike lane, or bike route.
  • Be visible: wear appropriate high visibility safety gear, including a helmet.
  • Watch for debris that might make you fall or swerve.
  • Watch for turning traffic.
  • Ride no more than two abreast.

Drivers Should:

  • Give at least 3-feet when passing bicyclists. (See above for stricter local ordinances)
  • Obey traffic signals, signs and markings.
  • Yield to bicyclists as you would motorists and do not underestimate their speed. This will help avoid turning in front of a bicyclist traveling on the road or sidewalk, often at an intersection or driveway.
  • Avoid distractions.
  • Obey the posted speed limit.
  • Stay alert and take extra caution at intersections, especially when making turns.
  • In parking lots, at stop signs, when packing up, or when parking, search your surroundings for other vehicles, including bicyclists.
  • To avoid "dooring" a bicyclist, never open a car door without first checking for passing traffic. One example of checking for traffic is the "Dutch Reach." This method involves the driver of a vehicle using their right hand to open their door, not their left hand. This naturally puts the driver in position to check both in front and behind for approaching traffic.

 

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