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Michigan Bicycle Laws

New Michigan Cycling Laws Make Roads Safer for Bicyclists

October 3, 2018

New Michigan cycling laws designed to make Michigan roads safer for bicyclists took effect last week. The new laws require motorists to allow a passing distance of three feet on the left and right; they also compel driver education courses to increase the amount of instruction on the laws and safety issues regarding bicycles.

In 2017, 1,723 bicyclists were involved in crashes with motor vehicles. Of these, 1,356 people were hurt and 21 died as a result of their crash-related injuries. A 2016 study by the Office of Highway Safety Planning attributed 58% of bicycling accidents to failing to yield or disregarding traffic control on the part of motorists and cyclists.

What Do the New Cycling Laws Mean?

The new Michigan cycling laws amend section 257.636 of the Michigan Vehicle Code, which pertains to the overtaking and passing of vehicles going in the same direction. Prior to the passing of these new statutes, the law did not specify what constituted a “safe distance” for passing.

Here are the highlights of the three new cycling laws:

PA (Public Act) 279: Motorists passing bicyclists on the left must allow a three-foot safe distance between them and the bike.

PA (Public Act) 280: When permitted by law to pass on the right, motorists must give bicyclists a three-foot safe distance.

While it is more common for a cyclist to pass a bicycle on the left, there are situations where a motorist might pass a bicycle on the right. On a one-way road, for example, bicyclists are allowed to travel as far to the left as is practical, requiring a motorist to pass on the right. On a multi-lane road, drivers might find themselves to the right of a bicyclist preparing to make a turn by moving away from the right edge of the road. Some other exceptions are outlined in the statute.

Drivers should be aware that passing bicyclists on the right by using the shoulder of the road is highly dangerous and continues to be illegal.

The new cycling laws apply to bicyclists using designated bike lanes and also to those who are riding two abreast, a practice that is allowed under Michigan law.

The punishment for violating these laws includes a fine and three points on the driver’s record.

PA (Public Act) 277: Michigan driver education courses must put a greater emphasis on bicycle safety by devoting at least one hour of instruction to the laws pertaining to bicycles and other safety issues regarding vulnerable roadway users such as bicyclists, motorcyclists and pedestrians.

“Bicycling is a great way to get to work or simply enjoy the beautiful Michigan scenery,” said Mark Bernstein of The Sam Bernstein Law Firm. “We hope these new cycling laws will make our roads safer, but if you do have an accident while driving or bicycling, call us immediately. Our experienced accident lawyers will help you receive the compensation you and your family deserve.”

The law is complicated, but finding the right accident lawyer is simple.

Call 1-800-CALL-SAM today for a free, no-obligation consultation.

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