Bicylists, motorists can share the road

Jun 22, 2011

Fortunately, I had my cell phone and sent out a distress call to my wife, Marilyn. Needless to say, she wasn’t pleased with my carelessness.

Neither was my daughter, Kara, when she found out. She is threatening to sell my bicycle on eBay.

Two years ago, I took a spill on the Fruitport Road bike path, sending me to the emergency room with fractured ribs and a broken shoulder blade. This time my injuries were less severe. But it has caused me to re-evaluate how I bike to work. I need to slow down and enjoy the scenery instead of seeing how fast I can bike to work.

Bicycling is a great way to exercise, especially when your knees no longer allow you to jog, as in my case. But it is also important to remember that it is easy to get hurt if you’re not careful.

The accident also got me to thinking about how we bicyclers need to pay more attention to the rules of the road.

I’m well-prepared for riding in the dark with my lighted safety vest and lights on my bike. But I’ve not always been diligent about following the rules of the road.

Ironically, I received an e-mail recently from an avid biker who is concerned that both bikers and motorists don’t understand all the rules of the road. He suggested that the Tribune do a story on bicycle hand signals and the rules of the road, saying that many people lack an understanding of them. He’s right.

I’ve noticed how angry some motorists can get when there is a biker on the road. Here is a fact: Bicyles are allowed on roadways.

I’ve also have had a number of people tell me bikers should stay on our many miles of bike paths and not bike on the roads.

That’s not always possible and some bikers (especially road bikers) are just going too fast and would endanger children and walkers using the paths.

The point is that there is room for both.

The e-mailer believes that bad blood exists between bicyclers and drivers because of the few bikers who abuse the term “share the road.” Bicyclers who ride two-to-three abreast on the roads will anger some motorists.

Another problem, he wrote, is that there is a lack of understanding of hand signals by bikers.

“I have observed road bikers to have such subtle hands or finger movements or gestures that only road riders who ride in a group would understand, not the two ton vehicle (driver) who has no idea what they are showing or doing.”

He wrote that there would be a safe and more understanding scenario if everyone knew the rules of the road.

According to the M-bike.org website, Michigan’s laws for using hand signals are oudated. They were enacted for Model-T drivers to signal when making a turn or when applying brakes — not for bicyclers.

The website urges bikers to use the extended right arm signal for right turns, but not the bent arm signal for left turns, as motorists may just be thinking you are waving at them.

The website also said bikers shouldn’t signal when using their brakes. Instead, they should keep both hands on the handlebars.

Yes, there is room for both bicyclist and motorists. We just need to do a better job of sharing the road.

Comments

flowers

I don't give a rip roaring crap if bikes are allowed on the roads or not. When you are only going 5 or 10 miles an hour in a 25 or more area then get the he** off the road!!! If there is a sidewalk or bike path use that. And especially don't ride side by side with another bike. I own a Moped and I "also can ride in the road" but I would never be rude enough to ride on the highway when the speed limit is 55 and I can only do 30. I get off on the shoulder. It is just common courtesy.

GH Cyclist

Flowers,

I am wondering if you would like to take a bicycle ride with me? I'm thinking we can hook a tow strap to your bicycle just in-case you can't keep up.

Your opinion of bicycles always using the sidewalk or pedestrian path might change when you realize, first hand, how dangerous (and uncomfortable) it is to be riding between 16-20+ mph on something that has a crack every 4 feet or has cars driving right across your path when leaving their houses. Yes, 5-10 mph is definitely a casual cyclist but believe me a casual cyclist can feel every bump and see the dangers too.

I feel that you might need a little more experience before you speak with such authority on the subject at hand. It is just common courtesy.

flowers

GH cyclist. Perhaps we could hook a tow rope attached to my car with your bike and I will show you how fast you need to go in order to have the same rights as a car. We live on a road that the speed limit is 55 and there is a gravel shoulder. I have no problem slowing down and having to wait for traffic to clear to go around a bicyclist. But when I am on a road that is wide or there is a shoulder, then get off to the far edge so that a car can pass. So many times these bicyclists are riding side by side and you can't get by until traffic clears. Do your chit chatting on a break. I so agree with Moose. 9 times out of 10 when there is a stop sign, bicyclists just slow down and go. Stop at the sign and wait your turn since you have the same rights as a car!

GH Cyclist

Flowers,
As far as hooking a tow rope to your car I find that completely unnecessary seeing that we both know that cyclists have every right to ride on the road. If you don't agree with me then read this: 257.657 Rights and duties of persons riding bicycle, electric personal assistive mobility device, or moped or operating low-speed vehicle. Sec. 657. Each person riding a bicycle, electric personal assistive mobility device, or moped or operating a low-speed vehicle upon a roadway has all of the rights and is subject to all of the duties applicable to the driver of a vehicle by this chapter, except as to special regulations in this article and except as to the provisions of this chapter which by their nature do not have application. I completely agree with Moose too, 9 times out of 10 cyclists don't stop when their is a stop sign and it drives me crazy. But, if you stand at a four way stop and watch traffic, 9 out of 10 cars don't actually "stop". I'm out here, riding my bicycle, trying to be a good steward to the law and these 9 cyclists just ride right through stop signs, not helping cyclists look any better. Just so you know, I personally DO stop at every stop sign and wait my turn, as much as cars "stop". I am in agreement with you when it comes to cyclists using too much roadway. Cyclists should not use the law as a crutch and should always consider their personal safety when it comes to riding on the roadways, especially when riding two abreast, which cyclists are allowed to do by Michigan law.

cjf

I suppose I am one of the few who actually follow the rules of the road. I stop at stop signs..at least when there are any cars around. I try to stay on the paths just because where I live it's actually safer. BUT, When I'm on the road I've had cars come past so closely that if I moved my elbow just a little to the left they would take my arm with them. I think that the reason many people ride two or three abreast on the road or the individual who isn't right on the edge of the road is actually for safety. When you are single file, or on the edge, you get the idiot who zips past you doing 55 as closely as possible because there is oncoming traffic. If you take up more than 1/3 of the lane they have to wait for oncoming traffic to clear to SAFELY go around.

cjf

The highway has a speed minimum... other roads don't. Bicycles HAVE the same rights as cars whether you want it to be true or not. At least here in Michigan, most bicyclists are also drivers, so I don't understand why all of us don't understand that we have the same rights... but also have to follow the same RULES.

BTW... most road riders are generally going between 20 and 30 mph... which is much too fast for the sidewalk/bike path where casual riders, rolllerbladers, and walkers should be.

moose

Bicyclists and motorists can share the road, but it has been my experience that many road bicyclists ignore the rules. If you're traveling on the roads, you too must stop at stop signs, yield to oncoming traffic, and follow the "rules of the road" just as a car does. I've never had any problem with bicyclists who abide by the same rules cars do. On the flip side, drivers need to give adequate space when passing bicyclists (or motorcycles!) as you should another vehicle. I have seen many drivers fly by a bicyclist at high speeds, with only a few inches of room.

nowornever

GH Cyclist--and all you cyclist out there---
I know what the law says BUT I'm pretty sure every driver will agree with me when I say you should have to have insurance and tags, because remember Each person riding a bicycle, electric personal assistive mobility device, or moped or operating a low-speed vehicle upon a roadway has all of the rights and is subject to all of the duties applicable to the driver of a vehicle by this chapter, in that case like I said earlier wheres your LICENSE PLATE, Tags, INSURANCE?????

ghjhs

Bikes don't belong in the road,that is why we spent $$$$$$$$$$ for bike paths.if the state wants to put in a lane for them thats great otherwise they are an acident wating to happen.

zwesterhouse

It doesn't matter much what the law says about bikes on roads. Its simple - guy on third shift making minimum wage, no insurance for health or auto and lives on credit cards then half asleep at wheel. Big object runs over bicyclist. bicyclist goes smush. bicyclist is in hospital, crippled for life or just plain dead. Motorist is in perpetual state of financial bankruptcy living from check to check. Maybe goes to jail. Bicyclist is still just as smushed, maimed or dead, it is irreversible, get that irreversible - do we need to spell it. I used to love riding my bike on the road - never again, no way, no how. I ride the bike rails to trails, use sidewalks. I'M NOT GETTING HIT BY NO CAR ! I"m not going to be stupid with endless pointless debates. Car hit bike-bike go smush. Its physics. when its all over no-one is going to give a turkey. Be smart like me ! Stay off the road with your bikes and keep your kids off the road!

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