LETTER TO THE EDITOR: Bicycles have right of way

May 8, 2012

 

Case in point: While riding the bike path, along 152nd Avenue in Grand Haven, a vehicle made a right turn in front of me while I was going straight. I slammed on my brakes to avoid a collision. The driver then stopped to roll down his window and chastised me for not stopping, even though I had the right of way!

According to Michigan law, bicycles are legal vehicles and motorists must treat them like any other vehicle on the road. A general safety article published by the League of Michigan Bicyclists lists some common mistakes motorists make, including “turning right into the path of a bicyclist that is going straight."

Motorists should also be aware that bicycles lawfully have the right to ride on the road. Many bicyclists prefer to ride on the road even when a bike path is available — and that, uninformed motorist, is legal.

Although the bike path network is truly a wonderful thing, some bicyclists find the two-way traffic on the paths a little heavy for their type of riding and they deem it unsafe. Of course, there may be other reasons for a bicyclist to ride on the road and not the bike path, but the point is: bikes have the same legal rights as motor vehicles (except on highways).

Perhaps with a little education and some understanding, we can have a safe, fun bicycling season.

— Jack Bos, Grand Haven
 

Comments

truthhurts

Its a 2-way street! Bikes need to share the road as well. If I have to slow down and wait to go around a bike that is hogging the road on a back country road with no shoulder then yes I have a problem with that. A car driver is not going to look behind them on the right side to make a right hand turn....it will never happen, so bicyclists need to be more careful. It is no different than a motorcycle rider having to be more aware of their surroundings and be able to anticipate what someone is going to do. BIKES NEED TO SHARE THE ROAD TO!!! especially when the bike path is not good enough for you.

GH Cyclist

That is moronic to say all car drivers won't look behind them when making a right hand turn. If you pass a cyclist immediately before making your right hand turn and you forget that he/she is approaching from behind then I don't think you should be driving on the road. By law all motorists on the road need to yield to slower moving traffic and pass in a safe manner. I'm sorry if you have a problem with that.

truthhurts

why don't you test my hypothesis for me then? so what you are saying is that if I pass you on the side of the rode and go to make a right hand turn shortly after passing, I have to stop and wait for you to pass me on the right before I can complete my turn? sounds logical, safe, and legal! Once i pass you, it is up to you to follow the rules of the road and use your brakes to wait for me to complete my turn.

GH Cyclist

I completely agree with you, if you have enough time to pass and complete your right hand turn before putting the cyclist or any slow moving traffic in danger then by all means go ahead, I have no problems with that. But by law you have to yield to slower moving traffic, so if you cannot safely pass before making your turn then by law you need to wait. Many drivers misjudge how fast a cyclist is actually going on the road and that is where the problem begins.

phishmi

I have watched almost every single bike rider I see on the road blow through all the four way stops in town while all the cars follow the law. This should enforced by GHDPS, from what I see, it would be a huge windfall in funds for the city and also help the public know that biking on the road is legal, but that the bikers must also abide by the laws of the road, including coming to complete stops at every stop sign.

GH Cyclist

I am truly frustrated by cyclists who "blow" through stop signs with complete disregard. However, most cars don't make complete stops at stop signs not even police cars. When I approach a stop sign I will stop as much as any car stops but I won't be blowing through it.

my2cents

Unbelievable "many motorist don't understand the rules of the road"? And how about the bicyclist who insist on "being a car" and hogging the road, NOT going the speed limit or even close to it, and NOT stopping at stop signs and stop lights? WHO doesn't understand the rules? If you want on the road, be my guest, but FOLLOW the rules or get out of our way. Oh, and don't ride against traffic, that confuses me.

AtomicRooster

I agree with you that bicycles do have the right of way and YES they do have to abide by the rules of the road just like cars do. But I am finding more and more bicyclists who ride at night without helmets, headlights, tail lights. I have come close many times of hitting bicyclists who do NOT have headlights or tail lights on their bicycles. How do you expect anyone driving a car at night to see you? There should be an ordinance passed that you must have a headlight and tail light on your bicycle at a certain time at night. Helmets are optional but myself personally would never ride my bicycle without a helmet. Asphalt really bites.

GH55

You are exactly right, to ride at night, by MI state law a headlight and a tail light are required. The reflectors that come on the bike are convenience items, they do not fulfill the requirements for lights after dark. The tiny little blinky lights don't cut it either!
It would appear that there is no priority for enforcement of these regulations though. So regardless of the fact that the law exists, it still behooves people to adhere to it and the police to enforce the law.

No One Special

All of the points below are good. I've also gotten behind the bikers on Lakeshore Drive who ride three and four across. They take up most of the lane while there is a line of cars behind them. They ignore the large sidewalk and large paved shoulder right next to them because they have to flaunt their rights. Just because you have a legal right doesn't mean you should.

dyankee

I have found that organized bike riders, the ones with their Darth Vadar helmets, and dental mirrors hanging over their left eyebrow are the most arrogant group you'll find on our streets. They make Harley riders look mellow. Everyone that has posted here is dead-on. Jack, why does your industry need to ride the busiest streets one can find.....you know, the 4 lane roads throughout towns in West Michigan, instead of alternative routes that run parallel to their destination? I too, have seen groups of bicyclist ride 4 wide and will NOT move and blow threw 4-way stops at 30 mph. I pulled up next to a group of 3 riders and challenge the blown 4-way and I was inundated with f-bombs. @No One Special has the best observation, "flaunting" their rights is exactly how I feel about this group. Indeed, just because you have the legal right doesn't mean you should. Jack Bos, you are sadly mistaken if you think it is the motorists that need an education. The law states max two wide only WHEN conditions permit and you must have headlight at night and abide by all road signs including, STOP signs.

christopher

I have been both a biker and a driver for MANY years. Over the past two years I have noticed what appears to be a very interesting trend. Certain bikers seem to be growing in their arrogance. In an effort to make sure the "rest" of the road users know their rights, it appears that they try extra hard to exercise those rights.

It has been interesting to see casual bikers showing great care and respect for others. Almost always when I see a family out on a nice ride they appear to be cautious and courteous. However the people with the fancy biker clothing and high end gear seem to be rude and inconsiderate. I know this is generalization, but so often I see these "speed bikers" riding two or more astride and not allowing drivers to pass by even in the face of on coming traffic.

My fear is that these "passionate" bikers are going to cause an accident by not being considerate enough to simply move over to the side of the road when they start to hold up traffic. These speed bikers may think they are going fast, but I do not understand why they feel the need to hold up traffic and create unsafe conditions for those on the road.

I understand there may be many reasons why bikers do not want to ride on the bike paths, but it seems very inconsiderate for bikers to hog the road at relatively slow speeds (compared to cars) when bike paths are available. I am sure people would have a fit if cars were allowed on bike paths and started traveling 45 miles on the bike paths.

You may have the right to travel on the road, but certain bikers are causing very dangerous conditions based on their poor behavior.

Also, I am not sure I understand the issue about turning right and yielding to someone on the right. If a motor cycle or another car was overtaking an automobile on the right side of that automobile, it seems like the motor cycle or other care would be at fault (I think that happened about two or three years ago on north bound 31 near Huntingon Bank in Grand Haven ... and the motorcyclist was found to be at fault).

A little biker courtesy would go a long way. We are certainly teaching the young bikers in our family to be courteous and cautious and to leave the arrogance at home.

3rdCoastColnago

One brief point.

When a motorist come upon a Model T doing 25 mph in a 45, and traffic is backed up and busy, does the motorist give the Model T driver the "one finger salute"? Or does he think, awwww, cool car....how quaint? Does the drive rage or allow the 25mph Model T the courtesy of using the road?

Now replace the Model T with the cyclist. You attitude changes, eh? Both are considered....vehicles. Patience is a virtue. Let us all use some patience and some exhibit some Tri-Cities Brotherhood.

3rdCoastColnago

Just a few quick points. When on the road, a cyclist must follow the rules of the road; and drivers must follow them too. But do they? No. I see both cyclists blowing stop signs, and people on cruisers riding against the traffic, etc. With regards to motorists, I think its common knowledge that the "classic car rolling through a stop sign maneuver", the left turn from the right lane, as well has people texting and reading the paper while driving are seen as an everyday event. I've seen motorists passing a cyclist going up a hill on a double line next to GHHS and in SL on Fruitport Road. Brilliant, eh? As a cyclist a few years ago, a white Mustang full of high school kids buzzed me on Lakeshore @ Hiawatha; they had to have been exceeding 80-90 MPH. More brilliance. While driving a car is a "priviledge", riding my bike on the road is legal, and it's my right. Please remember that we cyclist are wives, fathers, sisters, brothers, etc..

Cyclists by law, are permitted to ride on the road in MIch., and are to be treated as a vehicle. Motorists are not entitled to pass a cyclist when oncoming traffic disallows a save "passing". The motorist must use a little item called a "brake", rather than moving across the center line, endangering both the cyclist and the oncoming driver, both of whom have the same right to be there. Breathe, slow down and wait your turn. In most states, the cyclist must be permitted 3 feet of safe passage. Entitlement is an issue these days.

Next, the road and the bike paths are not "one in the same." The bike paths are marked at the road with yellow hash marks (many with stop signs) which infer...yield or caution. Many bike paths have a speed limit. Does GH have a speed limit on the Multiple Use Paths (MUP)? A MUP cam be a dangerous place for all if a cyclist is moving at 20-30mph+. This is especially the case when children learning to ride a bike for the first time, roller blades and walkers, 2-3 abreast, etc. are traveling at much slower speeds. Sometimes, quite unpredictably. Many are plugged into IPODS and cannot hear the warning or bell of an approaching cyclist. Lets not forget the motorist who come flying out of drives and park exits while on the phone and not paying attention.

Even though I am an avid cyclist, its hard to say but, I'd say that the original poster may have been wrong here. Perhaps the City, township and law enforcement officials could write a clarification of the rules every spring so that there is a communication of proper practice. GH could learn a lot from the city of Holland. Just a thought.

pike84

don't abide by the laws and constantly flaunt the rules. Cops should crack down on them if they want the same right as cars. How much do bicycles pay in registration fees like cars do. You pay those fees to maintain roads etc. If bikes don't pay it why are they afforded the same rights??

3rdCoastColnago

Pike, I own three cars and 8 bikes. I pay taxes, registration fees, and insurance. What matter does it make if I chose to drive my car or bike on the road? ...or if I choose to walk across the road that I helped pay for? Are you going to tax my shoes? Or, deny me my right to walk on the road because I didn't "register" my soles?? Pft.

justpondering

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justpondering

It so simple, if there is a bike path, get off the road and use them. We pay taxes to build and maintain them. It is the main reason why they are there, to provide a safe place for all bicyclists. If there isn’t a bike path then follow the rules of the road and obey all traffic laws.

If these die hard bicyclists insists of using our road when there is a bike path present, they should do the following as we motorist have to do:
1. Get a bicycle license
2. Register they bicycle yearly
3. Carry insurance
4. Follow all state and federal laws

GH Cyclist

I think the simple thing is to understand Michigan law which clearly states that bicyclists have the right to ride on the streets even if there is a path present.

truthhurts

yeah and that is the law that needs to change due to a few bikers that have ruined it for you. It is no different in any other sport. Just like jet skiers now have new laws about age restrictions because a few people ruined it for the responisble parties. That is how our government works...if it doesn't work, write a few more laws; after all that is why we pay politicans right?

JBCyclist

First off I'm a cyclist and constantly irritated by the way my fellow cyclists disobey the laws. A few points : Don't ride 2, 3, 4 wide and impede traffic, Don't blow through stop signs and please signal to motorists when you are turning. To answer one of the others posts it's indeed a law to have lighting after dusk. Please use them for your safety riders. I understand some motorist don't like cyclists and we need to respect that. By obeying the laws laid out we can gain some respect from the motorist and share the rode. Respect the privelage for the sake of the law-obeying riders.

Mark Brooky

The Tribune received this press release from MDOT on Wednesday:

To promote safety during National Bike Month, the Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT) reminds drivers to stay alert, share the road safely, and be aware of all roadway users, including bicyclists.

Centerline rumble strips are a proven safety measure that can help reduce the risk of head-on collisions, injuries and, most importantly, save lives. However, the rumble strip noise discourages some drivers from passing a bicyclist at a safe distance.

A 30-second video safety message created by MDOT demonstrates safe passing of a bicyclist and sharing the road respectfully. View the video on MDOT's YouTube channel. Click here.

Spring and summer months increase the use of roads by bicyclists. MDOT encourages everyone to make safety a top priority. May is National Bike Month, and Bike to Work Week is May 14-18. State Transportation Director Kirk T. Steudle says MDOT is joining forces with other transportation agencies to raise awareness and spread the safety message: "Give 'em Space, Make it Safe, Please Share the Road."

truthhurts

I am glad there are comment sections here! This whole bike thing has irritated me for years now and I am happy to see that I am not the only one. It appears that the general public is not on the biker's side. Keep up the shenanigans bikers and you'll have to invest in the old fashion stationary bike again! It is to bad that a few bad apples will ruin for everyone, but that is usually how it works these days.

Zegota

I strongly and respectfully support the rights of all riders using the road. However the bicyclists must also obey the laws of the road, such as stopping at the stop signs, or yielding the right a-way when necessary and/or required by law! Just because your dressed up in some tight looking superman outfit and racing home from or to work does not make you invincible! So please use common sense and stop at the stop lights, and yield the right-a-way when it is due. We are not impressed with your style, nor your outfit or your bike but we value your life. Lets work together and respect each other, please.

JMO

@ 3rdCoastColnago...you hit the nail right on the head!! You mentioned the traffic is going too slow on the bike paths for the bikes to use safely!! EXACTLY! That's how cars feel when they approach a bike!! If cyclists are going to share the road, then they should be able to go with the flow of traffic!!! Most of the time this is impossible, unless one is on a 15 mile an hour roadway...this whole situation irks me...

3rdCoastColnago

JMO- Exactly.
On the bike path, walkers, roller bladers, 3 year-olds on bikes and trikes, skate boarders, people walking dogs on 30 foot leashes or without leashes, texting walkers tied into their IPOD and all of these people oblivious to what come behind them are incredibly unpredictable and potentially dangerous for parties involved.

On the other hand, Cyclists are pretty predictable at the edge of the road despite the 15 second "inconvenience" to motorists, when passing them (similar to mopeds, scooters, and an old classic Model T. Yes, children darting into the road and "bikers" wearing jeans and ttexting and talking on their Smart Phone while heading in all directions may not be.

Be good to each other out there people. We're all members of this community. Peace.

43°North

listen to yourself 3rdlane...you are talking of the crap we get from bikers in the road when you speak of the BIKE PATH. I have never heard of one called a muti-use anything. MUP??? They are a BIKE PATH. That's what we voted on, thats what they built in my front yard. You see the white line in the road on Lakeshore drive? THAT is your lane, not five feet out beyond it. WTH, you are so scared to ride the bike path with as few people use it? It is actually WHY we voted to have all the bike paths in the area...for the bikes & peds both! To keep 'em out of the roadway.
Do you think a family of bikers with small weaving children should ride in the road, say on Lakeshore or Mercury where people are driving 45+mph? What would be any difference there?
Bikers do NOT obey the laws, especially the spandex kings. They OWN the road, and won't let you forget it.
Maybe it is time we lobby our congress here in MI for a law to keep non-motorized 'vehicles' out of the road if a BIKE PATH is available. And make it enforceable. And enforce it.

GH Cyclist

I'm a cyclist and I obey the laws as much as anyone driving a car does. It is frustrating when you lump all cyclists together like you do. Also, you would actually have to be a cyclist to understand why the majority of them do not ride on the "bike path".

my2cents

I agree a few bad apples have ruined it for the responsible bicyclists.
One of the things that the "bad" bicyclists do that really irritates me is weaving thru traffic to make turns. They KNOW we can't stop them, and we won't hit them. They need to sit at a 4 way stop and take their turn like the motor vehicles do.
Maybe if the cops start issuing moving violations for bicyclists like they would for motorized vehicles, they wouldn't irritate us so much.Besides it would increase some serious revenue, and make us all a bit safer.

JMO

To all Bikers: Do you abide by ALL traffic signs? Stop, Yield, etc?
Do you always use hand signals when turning?
Do you travel with the flow of traffic, and at the posted speed limit?
Do you have brake and headlights, and use them?
Do you ride single file on a two lane road like vehicles do?
When I see a vehicle moving into the oncoming traffic lane to pass me, I will move to my right and slow way down, so he can pass safely. Do you do this??
If you can't answer yes to ALL of these questions, then you have no right to be on the road!!!!

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