Michigan Bicycle Law FAQ

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If you regularly ride your bike on the roads of Washtenaw County, you might benefit from this quick summary of Michigan bicycle law.

Bicycle Law

Is this a bicycle?

According to Michigan law, a bicycle is “…a device propelled by human power upon which a person may ride, having either 2 or 3 wheels in a tandem or tricycle arrangement, all of which are over 14 inches in diameter.” That includes adult-sized tricycles and tandem bikes, but not motorized scooters or motorcycles.

Is a bicycle considered a vehicle?

No. Vehicle is defined as “every device in, upon, or by which any person or property is or may be transported or drawn upon a highway, except devices exclusively moved by human power…”

Can I ride in the road?

Yes. A bicycle, even if moving slower than the speed of traffic, is allowed to ride “as close as practicable to the right-hand curb or edge of the roadway” unless:

  • Passing another bicycle or vehicle going in the same direction.
  • Turning left.
  • The right-hand edge of the road is unsafe.
  • The lane is too narrow for a vehicle to safely pass a bicycle.
  • Going straight through an intersection with a right turn lane.
  • On a one-way road (where you may also ride along the left curb).

Can I ride on the sidewalk?

Yes, unless signs say otherwise. Remember to give pedestrians the right of way, and call out when passing someone on foot.

Do I have rights on the road?

As a general rule, a bicyclist riding in the road has all the same rights as someone operating a motor vehicle.

Do I need lights at night?

Yes. If you are riding at night you need to have a white light in the front and a red light on the back of your bike. You also need reflectors that are visible from all sides.

Can I ride on the handlebars?

No. Michigan law says “A person propelling a bicycle or operating a motorcycle or moped shall not ride other than upon and astride a permanent and regular seat attached to that vehicle.” It also limits riders to the number the bike is designed to handle. So unless you are riding tandem, the rule is 1 bike, 1 rider.

Can I hitch a ride from a car?

No. It is illegal for a bicyclist to “attach himself” to a vehicle on the road.

Can we ride next to each other?

Yes. Bicyclists are allowed to ride two across on the street, and more than that on designated bike paths.

Do I have to wear a helmet?

There is no law that requires you to wear a bicycle helmet, but it is highly recommended.

Where can I park my bike?

You may park your bike on the sidewalk or on any street where parking is allowed, as long as you don’t obstruct pedestrian or vehicle traffic.

The attorneys at Christensen Law represent the victims of bicycle accidents all the time and know what happens when riders aren’t careful. Make sure you know the bicycle law before you go out riding.