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Michigan Bike Laws

MICHIGAN BICYCLE LAWS

It’s important to know your legal rights (and duties) when bicycling in Michigan. It is especially important after a bicycle accident (we call them bicycle “crashes” and explain why here).

For any questions about the State’s bike laws, or about your rights to the road, contact attorney Bryan Waldman directly.

Right to the Road

  • Michigan bicyclists have the same rights and are subject to the same duties as drivers of motor vehicles.

Prohibitions

  • Clinging to motor vehicles while biking is not permitted.
  • Bicycles may only carry the number of persons for which it is designed or equipped to carry.
  • A cyclist cannot carry a package that prevents both hands from remaining on the handlebars of the bicycle..

Helmets

  • With the exception of a law that requires people under the age of 18 to wear a helmet when riding or a passenger on a Class 3 e-bike, there is no statewide requirement for helmet use when riding a bicycle..

Alcohol

  • Michigan’s DUI statute does not apply to bicyclists and the state does not have a biking while under the influence (BUI) statute.

Where to Ride

  • Bicycles are to ride as close as practicable and safe to the right hand curb or edge of the road. However, there are a number of exceptions to this rule, which include: (1) when passing another bicycle or vehicle traveling in the same direction; (2) when preparing to make a left turn; (3) when conditions make the right edge of the road unsafe due to conditions such as debris, drain openings, uneven road surfaces, pedestrians, animals, or other obstacles; (4) when the lane is too narrow to permit a vehicle to safely overtake or pass a bicycle; (5) when the right lane is used for right turns and the cyclist intends to proceed straight through the intersection.
  • On one-way roads bicyclists may ride as close as practicable to the left curb or edge of the roadway.

Sidewalks

  • Sidewalk riding is generally permitted but bicyclists riding on a sidewalk must yield the right of way to pedestrians and must give an audible signal before passing.
  • Some municipalities, however, ban sidewalk riding in retail or high congestion areas.

Parking

  • A bicycle may be parked on a sidewalk, except in places prohibited by posted official traffic control signs and may not be parked in a manner that impedes the movement of pedestrians or other traffic.
  • A bicycle may be parked on a street or highway in any location where parking is allowed for motor vehicles and may be parked abreast of another bicycle. However, a bicycle may not be parked on a highway or street in a manner that obstructs the movement of legally parked motor vehicles. Additionally, local ordinances may limit the location and manner of bicycle parking.

Motor Vehicle Doors

  • Michigan does not have a specific statute or law which mandates that a motorist must ensure it is safe to open their door, before doing so. However, the law does require drivers to conduct themselves in a reasonably safe manner.

Bike Lanes, Bike Paths and Multi-Use Paths

  • Michigan bicyclists are not required to ride in or upon bike lanes or paths.

Stop Signs and Traffic Control Devices

  • Bicyclists are required to come to a full and complete stop at all stop signs and traffic lights displaying a red signal.

Signaling

  • Bicyclists must use hand/arm signals when turning and stopping.

Drivers Overtaking Bicyclists

  • Motor vehicle drivers must allow at least 3 feet of space when passing a bicyclist. In cases where it is impracticable for a motorist to pass a distance of 3 feet, the motorist must pass at a safe speed and distance. Further, the law allows a motorist to pass a bicycle in a no passing zone, provided it is safe to do so.

Group Riding

  • Bicyclists may not ride more than 2 abreast.

Equipment

  • When riding between on-half hour after sunset and on-half hour before sunrise, a bicycle must be equipped with a white front facing headlight that is visible from 500 feet, and a red rear reflector, visible from all distances between 100 and 600 feet. In addition to a rear reflector, a cyclist may also use a red lamp visible from 500 feet.
  • Every bicycle shall be equipped with a brake which enables the operator to make the braked wheels skid on dry, level, clean pavement.

Electric Assist Bikes

  • Michigan has implemented a three class system for electric assist bikes (“e-bikes”).  An e-bike cannot have a motor of greater than 750 watts. A Class 1 e-bike is one “that provides assistance only when the rider is pedaling and that ceases to provide assistance when the bicycle reaches a speed of 20 mph.” A Class 2 e-bike is one that does not necessarily require the rider to pedal to activate the motor. Rather the motor may be used exclusively to power the bike, but ceases when the bike hits 20 mph. A Class 3 e-bike, like a Class 1 bike, provides assistance only when the rider pedals, but ceases once it hits 28 miles per hour.
  • Generally, bicyclists may use a Class 1 e-bikes in the same matter as traditional bicycles. However, local agencies may limit their use on multi-use trails. Class 2 and Class 3 bicycles can only be used on multi-use trails if specifically allowed by the local agency with authority over the trail.   Additionally, Class 3 e-bikes cannot be used on nonmotorized trails (mountain bike or hiking trails), unless specifically authorized by the local entity or agency that has jurisdiction over the trail.
  • Children under the age of 14 cannot ride a Class 3 e-bike.
  • Riders and passengers of Class 3 e-bike who are under the age of 18 must wear a helmet.

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