Metro Detroit Personal Injury Lawyer
After Monday's tragic story detailing the death of a 39-year-old Oceola Township man who was killed while riding his bike, we thought it prudent to dedicate a blog post on the Michigan Motor Vehicle Code as it pertains to bicyclists in an effort to spread awareness of the rights and duties of both motor vehicle drivers and bicyclists and in hopes of preventing future tragedies.
Overview of Michigan Bicycle Laws
The portion of the Motor Vehicle Code that specifically applies to bicycles is sections 656 through 662. As we have discussed elsewhere, a bicycle is not considered a motor vehicle under Michigan law. That being said, a bicyclist has the same rights and is subject to the same duties as a driver of a vehicle. MCL 257.657.
Furthermore, a bicycle should not carry more persons at a time than the number for which it was designed and equipped. MCL 257.658(2). It is also against the law for a person riding a bicycle to attach himself or herself to a car or vehicle upon a roadway. MCL 257.659.
Where On The Street Should A Michigan Bicyclist Ride?
Pursuant to MCL 257.634(1), a driver of a vehicle shall drive upon the right half of the roadway. Roadway is defined as that portion of a highway improved, designed or ordinarily used for vehicular travel. MCL 257.55. While a bicycle is not a vehicle, remember that a bicycle is subject to all the duties applicable to the driver of a vehicle, and thus must ride on the right half of the roadway. Furthermore, if a person is operating a bicycle upon a highway or street under the speed limit, the bicyclist should ride as close as practicable to the right-hand curb or edge of the roadway, except:
- When passing another bicycle or vehicle proceeding in the same direction
- When preparing to turn left
- When conditions make the right-hand edge of the roadway unsafe or reasonably unusable (this includes surface hazards, uneven roadway surfaces, drain openings, debris, parked or moving vehicles or bicycles, pedestrians, animals, or other obstacles, or if the lane is too narrow to permit a vehicle to safely overtake and pass a bicycle)
- When operating a bicycle in a lane in which the traffic is turning right but the individual intends to go straight through the intersection
- When operating a bicycle upon a 1-way highway or street that has 2 or more marked traffic lanes, in which case the individual may ride as near the left-hand curb or edge of that roadway as practicable.
Are Michigan Bicyclists Required to Signal Before Turning?
Yes. Under MCL 257.648, the operator of a bicycle, before stopping or turning from a direct line, "shall first determine that the stopping or turning can be made in safety and shall give a signal as required in this section." Bicyclists shall signal as follows:
- Left Turn: the operator shall extend his or her left hand and arm horizontally.
- Right Turn: the operator shall extend his or her left hand and arm upward or shall extend his or her right hand and arm horizontally.
- Stop/Decrease Speed: the operator shall extend his or her left hand and arm downward.
This section makes clear that bicyclist who violates this section is responsible for a civil infraction. MCL 257.648(6).
Can Bicyclists Ride Two Abreast?
Yes. Pursuant to MCL 257.660b, two or more individuals operating bicycles upon a highway or street shall not ride more than two abreast except upon a path or portion of the highway or street set aside for the use of bicycles.
What Are A Bicyclists Duties When Riding On A Sidewalk Or Pedestrian Crosswalk?
Under MCL 257.660c, a bicyclists must yield the right-of-way to pedestrians while operating the bicycle on a sidewalk or pedestrian crosswalk. Furthermore, the bicyclists must give an audible signal before overtaking and passing a pedestrian. The law further states that riding on the sidewalk or pedestrian crosswalk can be prohibited by an official traffic control device. While riding a bicycle on the sidewalk or pedestrian crosswalk, the bicyclists has all the rights and responsibilities applicable to a pedestrian using that sidewalk or crosswalk.
Parking A Bicycle On The Sidewalk, Highway, Or Street
Under MCL 257.660d, an individual can park a bicycle on the sidewalk except if it is prohibited by an official traffic control device, but must not do so in a manner that impedes pedestrians or other traffic. Furthermore, a bicycle can be parked on a highway or street at any location where parking is allowed for motor vehicles, and may park at any angle to the curb or edge of the highway, and may park abreast of another bicycle. Again though, a bicycle cannot be parked on a highway or street in a manner that obstructs the movement of a legally parked motor vehicle.
Riding While Carrying A Package, Bundle, Or Article
A bicyclists shall not carry any package, bundle, or article that prevents the driver from keeping both hands upon the handlebars. MCL 257.661.
Is My Bicycle Required By Law To Have A Light, Reflector?
Yes. MCL 257.662 states that a bicycle operated on a roadway between 1/2 hour after sunset and 1/2 hour before sunrise must be equipped with a lamp on the front that emits a white light visible from a distance of at least 500 feet and with a red reflector on the rear that shall be visible from distances from 100 feet to 600 feet to the rear when directly in front of lawful lower beams of head lamps on a motor vehicle. Violators of this section are responsible for a civil infraction. This section also makes it illegal to sell a bicycle or bicycle pedal without pedal reflectors, or a bicycle without either tire reflectors, or wide-angle prismatic spoke reflectors.
What Are The Brake Requirements For Bicycles?
The bicycle's brakes must enable the operator to make the braked wheels skid on dry, level, clean pavement. MCL 257.662(2).
Can A Bicyclist Use A Cell Phone While Riding?
While the Motor Vehicle Code does not specifically address cell phone usage on a bicycle, recall that MCL 257.661 prohibits the rider from carrying any "article that prevents the driver from keeping both hands upon the handlebars of the vehicle." Remember from our recent blog post regarding cellphone use and driving that all manual texting while operating a motor vehicle that is moving on a highway or street is prohibited under Michigan law. While a bicycle is not a motor vehicle, bicyclists have the same rights and responsibilities as drivers under MCL 257.657.
What Are A Drivers Responsibilities When Passing A Bicyclist?
The driver of a vehicle overtaking another vehicle proceeding in the same direction shall pass at a safe distance to the left of that vehicle, and when safely clear of the overtaken vehicle shall take up a position as near the right-hand edge of the main traveled portion of the highway as is practicable. MCL 257.636(1)(a).
Additionally, a person operating a vehicle on a highway shall operate that vehicle at a careful and prudent speed not greater than nor less than is reasonable and proper, having due regard to the traffic, surface, and width of the highway and of any other condition then existing. A person shall not operate a vehicle upon a highway at a speed greater than that which will permit a stop within the assured, clear distance ahead. MCL 257.627. A driver who overtakes and strikes the rear-end of another vehicle proceeding in the same direction shall be deemed prima facie guilty of negligence. MCL 257.402(a).
Metro Detroit Injury Lawyers is a Bloomfield Hills, Michigan law firm practicing personal injury law. Contact us today at 248-430-8929 for a free consultation and evaluation of your case, with no obligation.