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What does May’s National Bike Month mean for bicyclist safety on MI roads?

May 20, 2016 by Steven M. Gursten

Whether you ride a bike for work or play, these safety rules could save your life

National Bike Month, image

May weather is when most people who love to bike start hitting the roads, even if it feels more like February at times here in Michigan than it does almost June. May is also National Bike Month. In addition, this week (May 16-20) is National Bike to Work Week, culminating in National Bike to Work day today. Metro Detroiters will celebrating this event through group rides and get togethers to promote bicycling and bike-friendly policies within their communities.

This is also a good time to review important safety rules that motorists and bicyclists must know.  It isn’t just physics that the person on the bike loses when bike meets cars. Bicyclists are increasingly vulnerable out there on poorly maintained roads, that often look carpet-bombed with potholes around Metro Detroit.

And as an attorney who has represented many bicycle enthusiasts and triathlon competitors who have been hit by cars or trucks, it’s important to remind bicyclists that even when they have the right of way, not to assume the motorists will see them and then process that a bike is there when the drivers’ minds expect to see cars instead. The most common thing I hear when deposing drivers who hit my clients on bikes is that they never saw them, even when they were plainly visible.

Here’s a quick refresh on these safety laws from our attorneys:

Below we’ll discuss what you can do to help make Michigan safer for bicyclists during Bike Month.

Participate in Bicycle Advocacy Day and tell lawmakers you want stronger laws for bicyclists

Many bicyclists argue that Michigan needs to be a more bike friendly state. I agree. That not only means more bike lanes and better accessibility, but new laws to keep bicyclists from getting hit by cars and better police enforcement of existing laws that are often ignored.

This brings me to another highlight of bike month: The Lucinda Means Bicycle Advocacy Day, which is at the State Capitol on May 25.  Here, the League of Michigan Bicyclists, Michigan Trails and Greenways Alliance, Michigan Mountain Biking Association and PEAC are joining together for the half-day event to meet with Michigan legislators and advance pro-bicycle and safety polices. These include advocating for a 5-foot safe passing provision, vulnerable roadway user protections and to define E-bikes (electric bikes) in Michigan.

Casual and dedicated riders alike may attend to be heard by lawmakers.

Here’s more information about the event, from the League of Michigan bicyclists.

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