Taking in the Fall Color by Bike? Know Your Rights and Ride Safely

Many bicyclists take to the roads to enjoy the fall colors and take advantage of the end of the riding season, others jump on their bikes to make their daily commutes. As a rider your safety is important.

To enhance your safety while on a bike we recommend you:

  • wear a helmet,
  • wear brightly colored and/or reflective clothing,
  • make sure to have front and rear lights if you ride at night,
  • do not wear headphones or earbuds while riding.

As you ride please make sure to follow the rules of the road to help create a safe environment for both you and other road users:

  • Go With the Flow. Ride on the right in the same direction as other vehicles.
  • Obey All Traffic Laws. A bicycle is a vehicle and you’re a driver. When you ride in the street, obey all traffic signs, signals, and lane markings.
  • Yield to Traffic When Appropriate. Like when you are driving a car, follow the normal yielding procedure – make sure to remember to also yield to pedestrians.
  • Be Predictable. Ride in a straight line, do not weave in and out of cars. Make sure to signal your moves toothers.
  • Stay Alert at All Times. Use your eyes AND ears.
  • Look Before Turning. When turning left or right, always look behind you for a break in traffic, then signal before making the turn. Watch for left- or right-turning traffic.
  • Watch for Parked Cars. Many bicycle accidents happen when drivers open car doors. Make sure to give parked cars plenty of space and keep an eye on them for any movement (either opening doors or pulling onto the roadway).

As a rider you have rights to the road. If you are riding below the posted speed limit, you are required to ride as close as practically to the right hand curb or the edge of the road (MCL 257.660a). However, it is recognized that there are exceptions or situations where it is unsafe for the rider to hug the fog line. The following are the 5 exceptions that allow a rider to ride to take up more of the road:

  • When passing another bicycle or a vehicle proceeding in the same direction.
  • When preparing to turn left.
  • When conditions make the right hand edge of the roadway unsafe or unreasonably unsafe for bicycle users, including, but not limited to:  Surface hazards (i.e., ruts in the pavement or potholes);  An uneven roadway surface; Drain openings; Debris; Parked or moving vehicles or bicycles; Pedestrians; Animals; Other obstacles; or 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 traffic is turning right, but the cyclist intends to proceed straight through the intersection; and
  • When riding on a one-way highway or street that has two (2) or more lanes. In this situation, the cyclist may also ride as close to the left curb or edge of the roadway as practicable

The 3 foot Rule: In 2018 the Michigan Legislature finally recognized the importance of a rider’s safety and passed a law requiring motorists overtaking bicyclists traveling in the same direction to pass with at least three feet of distance to the left of a bicycle. These three feet create a safer environment for both cars and riders. Even with the implement of the 3 foot rule, increased bike lanes, and heightened awareness of the rights of riders, accidents do happen.

Common injuries that we see occur from bicycle accidents include:

  • Concussions and Traumatic brain injuries (TBIs) – helmets reduce your chances of suffering a TBI, but cannot fully protect from moderate to severe TBIs.
  • Broken bones – broken bones can occur as small bone chips to severe breaks.
  • Contusions – contusions/bruises can limit mobility and have a range of healing times.
  • Lacerations – lacerations/cuts can result in blood loss and stitches.
  • Neck and spine injuries – these injuries are common in both care and bicycle accidents and often occur in tandem with TBIs. Neck and spine injuries often occur because of the rapid change of forces that the body is subjected to in a crash.

The number of deaths from bicycle incidents increased 29% over an eight-year period, from 793 in 2010 to 1,024 in 2017, according to Injury Facts®. Of the 1,024 bicyclist deaths in 2017, 679 involved motor vehicles.

If you are involved in a bicycle accident contact Smith & Johnson now, TOLL- FREE at 1-866-946-0700, to schedule your free consultation and protect your legal rights or visit our Personal Injury Cycling Accidents webpage.