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David Mittleman
David Mittleman
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Stay Safe on Two Wheels as Fall Approaches

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Even as summer comes to a close, Michigan bicyclists will take this opportunity to bike to school, work, and simply enjoy the cooler weather and the beautiful landscapes.  Bicycling is a pastime enjoyed by many, but recently it has become increasingly dangerous.  The past few years have seen a dramatic increase in bicycle fatalities on Michigan roadways.  The Lansing State Journal reports that according to the Office of Highway and Safety Planning, eleven bicyclists have been killed on Michigan roads so far in 2016.  The best way for cyclists to protect themselves while riding along with traffic is to always stay alert and to follow the rules of the road.

Michigan law grants bicyclists all of the same rights as drivers, as well as all of the same responsibilities.  This applies to rules against texting and cell phone use, obeying traffic signals, right-of-way, and passing restrictions.  Additionally, bicyclists riding at night must have a front head lamp and a rear red reflector.  While wearing a helmet is not required in Michigan, it is strongly encouraged to prevent head injuries.

In addition to obeying all traffic laws including speed limits, traffic signals, and signs, bicyclists have additional duties under Michigan law to protect themselves and others on the road.  In Michigan, there is no legally required safe passing distance for vehicles when they are passing bicycles along the road, but state law does require cyclists to ride as close to the right hand curb as practicable.  There are exceptions for when a bicyclist is passing another bicycle or when road conditions make riding on the right edge unsafe.  Additionally, bicyclists may move away from the right-hand curb when preparing to make a left turn, when travelling straight when a right-turn lane branches off, or when travelling down a one-way street.

Bicycles may ride on sidewalks instead of the roadway, but bicyclists must be sure to yield the right of way to pedestrians.  Additionally, bicyclists are required to give an audible signal before passing a pedestrian on the sidewalk.  Bicyclists are granted all of the same rights and responsibilities as pedestrians when operating their bicycle on the sidewalk.

Parents and guardians have an additional duty not to authorize or knowingly permit a child to violate any of the laws applicable to bicyclists.  It is important that all bicyclists know and follow all traffic laws.  Not only to prevent them from civil liability, but to protect their lives as well.