Respecting the rights of cyclists on the road
This is the time of year to celebrate, or at least recognize, pedal power.
In the midst of National Bike Month comes Bike to Work Week, culminating in Bike to Work Day on Friday. It’s also a sign that warmer weather will mean more cyclists on the streets and trails.
Even if you don’t actually commute by bicycle, it’s a good opportunity to remind those of us who continue to rely on motorized vehicles that two-wheeled travelers have certain rights to the road as well, according to Michigan Department of Transportation.
This month, MDOT is promoting the slogan: “Give ’em Space, Make it Safe, Please Share the Road.”
Yes, they don’t get points for being concise. But it’s worth listening to the message. Bicyclists certainly would appreciate it, since they likely will be the loser in a bike vs. motor vehicle collision, no matter who is at fault.
In 2016, Michigan had 1,959 reported crashes involving bicyclists, resulting in 1,563 injuries and 38 deaths.
According to the Michigan State Police Office of Highway Safety Planning, that number of fatalities was up 15 percent from 33 in 2015.
The number of fatal crashes involving bicyclists remains disproportionately high compared to other roadway users or crash types, the OHSP pointed out.
To try to keep bicyclist and motorist from intersecting with such unfortunate results, MDOT advises:
— Motorists need to remember bicyclists are permitted to ride on most roadways in the state. In fact, Michigan has a growing number of bike lanes and thousands of miles of shared-use pathways bicyclists use and enjoy. Many communities are building bicycle-friendly infrastructure, and drivers must remain attentive when driving and take extra care when approaching bicyclists as the warmer spring months lure people outdoors.
— Bicyclists are reminded that, as legal roadway users, they are required to obey all traffic laws, signs and signals. A person operating a bicycle on a highway or street at less than the existing speed of traffic shall ride as close as practicable to the right-hand curb or edge of the roadway.
For maps and other important bicycling information, including “What Every Michigan Driver Should Know About Bike Lanes,” go to www.michigan.gov/mdot-biking.