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Would a bicycle highway through downtown Ann Arbor help prevent bike accidents?

January 12, 2017 by Steven M. Gursten

Ann Arbor city officials are discussing the future of a bicycle highway through downtown to prevent bicycle-car crashes.

I’ve written about bicycle friendly Ann Arbor before on this auto law blog. Unfortunately, Ann Arbor has a number of pedestrian-car accidents in this city. And, as is the nature of most college towns, it has more bicycles on the roads, which means many bicyclists also getting struck by cars on crowded downtown streets.

But there’s a new proposal that may help to eliminate many of these bicycle-car crashes from occurring.

The general concept of an east-west “bicycle highway” through downtown Ann Arbor was recommended in a September 2015 report to the Ann Arbor City Council from a council-appointed citizen task force, according to a recent MLive article.

And while there may be snow falling and freezing temperatures outside as you read this, there are also talks underway of making that idea of a protected bicycle lane a reality. The proposed protected bike lane would run the length of William Street from the University of Michigan campus at State Street to the Main Street area, possibly all the way to Ashley Street.

Notice in the photo above the 5-foot safe passing distance for bicyclists, as mandated by our new October 2016 law (This important new law to help keep bicyclists safe also requires drivers’ education curriculum to include emphasis on bicycle laws and awareness).

Howard Lazarus, a professional engineer who most recently worked as the public works director in the progressive community of Austin, Texas, is now six months into his new role as Ann Arbor’s city administrator. He’s proposing several ways to improve Ann Arbor’s infrastructure, especially regarding pedestrian and bicycle accommodations.

The Mlive article discusses a handful of projects designed to improve bicycle and pedestrian safety in Ann Arbor that are in the works, including awareness campaigns for residents.

Our own attorneys are excited about this project. We have a Michigan Auto Law Ann Arbor office on 122 S. Main Street and we know firsthand how many people ride their bikes through downtown. We want to share these developments with our readers as an example to other Michigan cities that aren’t as bicycle friendly. These are “shovel-ready” projects that can improve downtowns, and they encourage people to adopt a healthier lifestyle. Bike lanes are also great for getting cars off crowded roads and are a free and easy form of clean transportation. Most important from our perspective as injury attorneys, they will also help to prevent many bike-car accidents.

When cities like Ann Arbor become accommodating and make safety and protection of bicyclists a priority, there are far less bicycle accidents. That means more people happily pedaling down safe streets — and not in hospitals or law offices.

In the meantime, here are a few other blog posts our lawyers have written recently about bicycle safety.

Can a motorist drive in a designated bike lane?

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

6 most common bicycle accidents

13 tips for safe driving around bicycles

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