What Are the Legal Rights for Cyclists in Michigan?

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Legal Rights for Cyclists

Do you cycle to commute, exercise, or simply enjoy the natural scenery in Michigan? Before heading out, make sure you understand the laws for bicyclists in the Great Lakes State. Contact Christensen Law for a free consultation today if you need legal advice or have suffered injuries in a bicycling accident.

Are Bicycles Considered Vehicles in Michigan?

Bicycles are not considered vehicles in Michigan. Under § 257.79 of the Michigan Vehicle Code (MVC), a vehicle is defined as any device that can transport or pull individuals or property down a highway, except human-powered devices.

M.V.C. § 257.4 defines bicycles as human-powered devices with either two or three wheels in a “tandem or tricycle arrangement” and at least 14 inches in diameter.

While bikes are not legally classified as vehicles, cyclists can ride on public roadways and have the same rights and duties as any motorist. Both cyclists and drivers should yield the right of way to each other according to state law. Riders must obey road signs and other traffic control devices, just like drivers.

Cycling Laws to Know

If you or someone close to you rides a bike in Michigan, it’s a good idea to brush up on cyclist laws regarding:

  • Bicycle helmets – Cyclists are not required to wear helmets under Michigan law unless a rider or passenger is under 18. However, wearing helmets and other protective gear is the best way to prevent a traumatic brain injury (TBI) and other severe injuries.
  • Brakes and lightsM.V.C. § 257.662 requires bicycles to have functioning brakes, white headlights, and red rear reflectors for nighttime riding.
  • Signaling turns – M.V.C. § 257.648 states that cyclists must indicate their intentions before turning by using arm signals or mechanical signaling devices.
  • Riding on the road – When cyclists ride on the street, M.V.C. § 257.660a requires riding on the right-hand edge of the roadway in nearly all circumstances, and M.V.C. § 257.634 mandates traveling in the same direction as vehicle traffic.
  • Sidewalk riding – Many cyclists wonder, “Can you ride a bike on the sidewalk in Michigan?” State law does not explicitly prohibit cyclists from using sidewalks, though it is unlawful in certain municipalities. Sidewalk cycling is generally not recommended because of the associated risks for both cyclists and pedestrians. When cyclists ride on sidewalks, they must yield the right of way to pedestrians and provide audible signals before overtaking or passing.
  • Riding in bike lanes – Michigan bicycle laws do not require cyclists to ride in designated bike lanes.
  • Riding two abreast – Under M.V.C. § 257.660b, cyclists can ride no more than two abreast on public highways or streets.
  • Texting while riding – No specific law prohibits cyclists from using a cell phone to talk or text while riding. However, M.V.C. § 257.661 prohibits cyclists from carrying any items that prevent riders from keeping both hands on the handlebars at all times, which effectively prohibits talking or texting on any cell phone that is not in hands-free mode.

What is the Safest Way to Ride a Bicycle?

Michigan’s Office of Highway Safety Planning encourages cyclists to follow these safety tips for defensive bicycle riding:

  • Always ride with the flow of traffic and obey Michigan bicycle laws.
  • Use hand signals or other signaling devices when stopping or turning.
  • Don’t ride through traffic signals or signs.
  • Pay attention to road markings.
  • Ride on paved road shoulders and designated bike trails or lanes when possible.
  • Wear a helmet and high-visibility safety gear when cycling.
  • Watch for debris and fixed obstacles that could cause falls or swerves.
  • Check for turning vehicles.
  • Never ride more than two side-by-side. Don’t split lanes, or ride between two lanes of vehicles.

Bicycle Safety Tips for Motorists

Drivers are just as responsible for bicycle safety. As a motorist, you should:

  • Leave at least three feet of space when passing cyclists on the road. Some communities have implemented local five-foot passing ordinances, including Ann Arbor, Dearborn, Grand Rapids,
  • Kalamazoo, Kalamazoo Township, Muskegon, Norton Shores, Oshtemo Township, and Portage.
  • Obey all traffic laws, signs, signals, and markings.
  • Yield the right of way to cyclists just as you would to other motorists.
  • Don’t underestimate the speed of cyclists when turning or merging.
  • Avoid distractions behind the wheel and watch for cyclists, especially at intersections, stop signs, parking lots, and residential areas.
  • Follow the speed limit.
    Check your surroundings before opening a car door near moving traffic.

What To Do if You’re Involved in a Bicycle Accident

If you are involved in a bicycle accident in Michigan, you can protect your rights and lay a strong foundation for your injury claim by:

  • Seeking prompt medical attention as soon as possible.
  • Following your doctor’s prescribed care plan.
  • Attending all follow-up medical appointments.
  • Gathering driver, vehicle, and insurance details at the scene.
  • Taking photos and talking to eyewitnesses.
  • Keeping track of medical bills and other crash-related documents.
  • Watching what you say to others or post on social media about the wreck
    Contacting a knowledgeable Michigan bicycle accident lawyer for advice

Should I Hire a Personal Injury Attorney?

Many people are hesitant to hire a lawyer after a bicycle accident. You may think allowing the insurance company to handle everything is the easiest way to obtain a settlement. But unfortunately, the only party that benefits from a swift settlement is the insurance company. When you work with a personal injury attorney, you can rest easy knowing a professional advocate will seek out the best possible results for you.

Hiring a bicycle accident lawyer has other advantages. In addition to receiving No-Fault benefits from a crash with a motor vehicle, seriously injured cyclists may also be eligible to file a personal injury lawsuit in Michigan. A skilled attorney can determine whether your case meets the threshold for a personal injury suit, which opens the door for potentially more compensation.

Contact a Michigan Bicycle Accident Lawyer Today

The aftermath of a bike crash can be overwhelming. The proven Michigan bicycle accident lawyers at Christensen Law can ease your burdens. Let us help you pursue full and fair compensation for your injuries. Call or contact us for a free initial case review now.