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Does a bicyclist have to obey the same traffic laws as a motorist?

During National Bike Month in May, learn about bicycle traffic laws in Michigan and important safety tips

bicyclists and traffic lawsjpg

Spring is finally here, and that means more people getting some sunshine and going on bike rides to have some fun. May is National Bike Month, which is a great time to hop on your bike and ride, but also to think about bicycle safety to protect yourself.

According to the Michigan Traffic Crash Facts website, in 2011:

  • 1,895 bicyclists were involved in motor vehicle crashes in Michigan.
  • 24 bicyclists were killed on Michigan roadways in 2011.
  • 3:00 PM-5:59 PM were the peak hours for bicyclist involvement in all crashes and injuries.
  • 6:00 PM-8:59 PM were the peak hours for bicyclist fatalities.
  • Of the 24 bicyclists killed in 2011, 7 seven of these bicyclists had been drinking.

The first and best thing you can do to protect yourself from bicycle accident injuries is simple: Wear your bicycle helmet.

Consider this powerful statistic from  a Centers for Disease Control study, according to the National Center for Statistics and Analysis of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration:

“Bicycle helmets are 85 to 88 percent effective in mitigating head and brain injuries in all types of bicycle accidents, making the use of helmets the single most effective countermeasure available to reduce head injuries and fatalities resulting from bicycle crashes.”

Here are some important bicycle helmet safety tips for kids.

Bicyclists and obeying traffic laws in Michigan

As an attorney who handles many bicycle accidents in Michigan involving cars, I get a lot of questions from bicyclists on whether or not they have to obey regular traffic laws.

Q. Does a bicyclist have to obey the same traffic laws as a motorist?

A. Yes, according to  Section 257.657 of the Michigan Vehicle Code for the Operation of Bicycles:

“Each person riding a bicycle…upon a roadway has all of the rights and is subject to all of the duties applicable to the driver of a vehicle by this chapter, except as to special regulations in this article and except as to the provisions of this chapter which by their nature do not have application.”

This includes stop signs and stop lights.

Q. Can a bicyclist impede traffic?

A. If the roadway the bicyclist is on has no minimum speed limit, then the bicyclist is part of traffic and therefore, cannot be impeding traffic simply because of their speed or the fact that they are riding a bicycle.

MVC Section 257.657 states: “Each person riding a bicycle…upon a roadway has all of the rights and is subject to all of the duties applicable to the driver of a vehicle by this chapter…”

MCL 257.69 states: “… traffic means pedestrians, ridden or herded animals, vehicles, street cars and other conveyances either singly or together while using any highway for purposes of travel.”

Bicycle safety tips

Here are some additional resources on bicycle safety and what happens when you’re injured in a bike accident in Michigan.

Bicycle helmet saves Michigan Auto Law receptionists eye – and a comprehensive list of bicycle safety tips

Why bias against cyclists is rampant and unfair

What happens if I’m injured in a bicycle accident in Michigan?

FAQs on Michigan bike laws: League of Michigan Bicyclists

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Blog Author Steven M. Gursten
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