Spring is here and you know what that means? Baby animals, sunnier days, and cyclists! Many motorists on the road are unaware of the laws regarding cyclists and bike lanes. So, with the help of Tommy Dowd from Harborside Cycle & Sport, we’ve compiled a list of important laws and safety precautions for motorists and cyclists to be aware of this spring!

Be kind to our cyclist friends and share the road by following these rules below:

Obey the 3-feet law:

With overwhelming bipartisan support, a new law passed just last year in September of 2018. The law states drivers must give 3-feet of space while passing bicyclists on Michigan roadways. When you are about to pass a cyclist remember, “Bicyclists on the roads are not just bicyclists, they are moms and dads, brothers and sisters, best friends, neighbors, and co-workers – they are people in our communities trying to safely navigate our streets.” – John Lindenmayer, League of Michigan Bicyclists Executive Director.

Riding Close to the Right Curb:

If a bicycle is traveling below the speed limit, the cyclist must ride close to the curb EXCEPT when

  • passing another bicycle or vehicle going in the same direction
  • preparing to turn left
  • conditions make the side of the road unsafe, such as surface hazards, uneven roads, debris, drain openings, parked vehicles, pedestrians, obstacles, or if the lane is too narrow.
  • when riding in a lane where vehicles will turn right, but cyclists intend to proceed straight.
  • when riding on a one-way highway/street with 2 lanes or more lanes. Cyclists may then also ride close to the left curb.

NOTE: Riding “close to the curb” does not mean a cyclist must ride the gutter of the road. This simply means that the rider will ride closer to the right shoulder, but still be safely on the road.

Use of Hand Signals:

A bicyclist must always use the proper hand signals when turning right, left, or stopping/decreasing speed.

The appropriate hand signals for cyclists. Photo from Michigan Bike Law’s website.

  • Left turn- extend left hand/arm out horizontally.
  • Right turn- extend right hand/arm out horizontally or by left hand/arm upward.
  • Stop or decrease in speed- extend hand/arm downward.
Riding Bicycles on Sidewalks:

When riding on a sidewalk, cyclists must yield the right of way to pedestrians and give an audible signal when passing.  Additionally, many motorists believe cyclists should be on the sidewalks, however, sidewalk riding can be very dangerous! Here is why:

  • Cyclists are invisible to motorists when on the sidewalks! Motorists are looking in the road and not for sidewalk traffic moving at high speeds such as bicyclists. They often don’t see bicyclists there, especially at driveways and intersections.
  • Poor maintenance of sidewalks, pedestrians, and uneven surfaces.
Lights at Night:

One half-hour before sunrise, and one half-hour after sunset, lights must be used on all bicycles. At a minimum, cyclists must have a white light visible from 500 ft. to the front and a red reflector at the rear visible from 100-600 ft.

Harborside Cycle & Sport in downtown Alpena. Photo by Steve Jakubcin.

Tommy Dowd from Harborside Cycle & Sport advises, “I like to remind people to obey traffic laws, wear bright colors and to ‘be predictable’. For example, use hand signals and hold your line when being passed by a motorist; and of course, WEAR YOUR HELMET!” Be sure to check out Harborside Cycle & Sport in their new location on 119 N. 2nd Ave. in Alpena for all of your biking needs!

You can find the complete Rules of the Road for Michigan cyclists and motorists here: Bike Law Michigan

Download this easy PDF guide here: What Every Michigan Bicyclist Must Know