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Sharing the Road: Michigan Cyclists and Motorists

Riding Bicycle in City

Riding Bicycle in CityCycling continues to be on the rise as many individuals, both in the United States and abroad, turn to it as a reasonable, healthier transportation option. As the number of cyclists has increased over time, unfortunately so has the number of accidents, injuries, and fatalities suffered by them. In 2012, over 3000 people were either injured or killed on Britain’s roads – 500,000 individuals choose to cycle in London.

This staggering statistic inspired one young inventor, Emily Brook, to create Blaze, a front mounted LED light that projects a green laser image of a bicycle onto the road to warn motorists that a cyclist is approaching.

Although the development of this technology is certainly welcome, perhaps a change of attitude, or even a bit of education, is also in order. For example, in Michigan, both motorists and cyclists are entitled to use the roads (unless otherwise prohibited by law) – cyclists have an absolute right to use public roads in Michigan. As such, motorists must share the road and be cognizant of those who choose to bike.

Michigan cyclists should also do their best to be seen and realize that they may have to take more defensive measures in order to protect themselves (wearing the proper reflective gear, having the appropriate lights and reflectors on their bicycles). When on the road, bicyclists should remember to ride as close to the curb as possible (there are exceptions, though). Lights are required if riding thirty minutes after sunset and thirty minutes before sunrise. Although cyclists are allowed to ride on the sidewalks (unless otherwise prohibited by law), they must remember that pedestrians have the right of way, and there are particular rules they must follow when passing or overtaking pedestrians with whom they alsoshare the sidewalk.

One significant illustration of the need for motorists to be aware of cyclists involves a current client who was struck by a car on the way to work. The cyclist had gone beyond what was called for by Michigan law in terms of having proper lighting and reflectors on his person and bicycle. He had a front white light, a red flashing rear light, reflective tape on his helmet, a reflective safety vest, reflective tape on his shoes, and reflective tape on his panniers. As he was riding, two cars passed him from behind without incident but the third car hit the cyclist, inflicting severe injury.