Passing laws: Michigan requires that when a motor vehicle passes a bicycle it shall leave a safe distance.
Helmet law: There is no state law in Michigan that requires the operator of a bicycle to wear a helmet. However, although not required by law it is strongly recommended.
Laws to Protect the Bicyclist: There are certain laws entitled “vulnerable user laws.” These laws are enacted to protect certain classes of users, such as a bicyclist. Michigan has not passed any vulnerable user laws.
Distracted Driving Laws: As almost every bicyclist knows, distracted driving creates one of the most dangerous risks to a bicycle on a public road way. Every state has varying laws to attempt to reduce the amount of distracted driving that exist. Nonetheless, it still presents a serious problem.
In Michigan it is unlawful for a person, while operating a motor vehicle, to read, manually type, or send a text message on a wireless 2-way communication device that is located in the operator’s hand or the operators lap, including a wireless telephone.
Lane Position Laws for a Bicyclist: Generally speaking, Michigan law requires the bicyclist to be as close to the right hand edge of the road as possible. However there are some important exceptions that I will outline below:
- When passing another bicycle or vehicle proceeding in the same direction;
- When preparing to take a left turn at an intersection or into a private road or driveway;
- When reasonably necessary to avoid unsafe conditions such as riding in a lane that is too narrow;
- When approaching a place where a right turn is authorized; or
- When upon a one-way highway with two or more marked traffic lanes, in which case a bicyclist may ride as near the left-hand curb or edge of such roadway as practicable.
Sidewalk Riding: The general rule in Michigan is that you are permitted to ride on sidewalks. However, there are certain rules and exceptions that must be followed. So you may ride on a sidewalk subject to the following:
- You must yield the right of way to any pedestrian and shall give audible signal before overtaking and passing such pedestrian;
- You are not allowed to ride on the sidewalk or crosswalk where such use of bicycles is prohibited by official traffic-control devices; and
- You have all the rights and duties applicable to a pedestrian under the same circumstances. It is important to note that Michigan does not require that bicyclists use any lane or path other than a normal vehicular traffic lane. So if there is a sidewalk, the choice or road or sidewalk is yours to make.
Riding a Bike under the Influence: Obviously, it is never a good idea to drive any vehicle under the influence of alcohol However, in Michigan, bicycles are not defined as vehicles. Michigan’s law prohibiting driving while under the influence of alcohol or other controlled substances is written so that it applies to vehicles and therefore does not directly apply to bicyclists. However, bicycles should not be operated while under the influence and a bicyclist may potentially be charged with a DUI because bicyclists are subject to the duties applicable to vehicles as defined by Michigan statute.
Stop Sign Laws: Generally, in Michigan bicycles have to follow the same rules as motor vehicles regarding the requirement to come to a complete stop when directed to stop by traffic control devices and Michigan does not authorize bicyclists to disobey traffic lights that fail to detect bicyclists.
Important Resources and Links
The primary laws governing bicycles in Michigan is found in Chapter 257 of the Michigan Compiled Laws (Mich. Comp. Laws), available here.
League of Michigan Bicyclists, provides useful information, available here.
For great information on biking in Detroit, click here.