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).
This is a general overview of Michigan’s bicycle laws. To see them in their completion, please visit Michigan’s Department of Transportation. Feel free to reach out to Bike Law’s National Director Rachael Maney for further information.
Right to the Road
- Bicycles are not defined as vehicles but generally have the same rights and responsibilities as motor vehicle drivers.
Where to Ride
- Bicyclists are required to ride as close as practicable to the right-hand curb or edge of the roadway, when riding at a speed less than traffic.
- Full lane use is allowed when traveling at the normal speed of traffic or there is no traffic, preparing for a turn, overtaking and passing, avoiding hazards or unsafe conditions, traveling in a lane too narrow to share, and avoiding a mandatory turn lane.
- Bicyclists may, but are not required to, utilize any usable path for bicycles that has been provided adjacent to a roadway.
- Bicycles are permitted on sidewalks but bicyclists must yield to the right-of-way of pedestrians and give an audible signal when overtaking and passing pedestrians. Check local ordinances for variations on this rule.
- Michigan bicyclists are not required to ride in or upon bike lanes or paths.
- On one-way roads bicyclists may ride as close as practicable to the left curb or edge of the roadway.
- 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.
- 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.
HOW TO RIDE
- Bicyclists shall not ride more than two abreast.
- Bicyclists are required to slow down and come to a complete stop at stop signs and traffic devices signaling red.
- Bicyclists must signal when turning or coming to a stop.
- Bicyclists must use hand/arm signals when turning and stopping.
Bicyclists Overtaking Cars
- Bicyclists on roadways must exercise due care when passing a standing vehicle or one proceeding in the same direction.
Cars Overtaking Bicyclists
- Motor vehicle drivers are required to pass bicyclists with at least three (3) feet of clearance.
- In cases where three (3) feet is impracticable or in a no-passing zone, the motor vehicle driver must pass at a safe speed and distance.
- 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.
- Allows cyclists to slow and roll through stop signs. In 1982, Idaho adopted the law and since that time, there have been no known accidents as a result of the law.
Vulnerable Roadway User Laws
- Laws that provide strict prohibitions on driving while using handheld devices and enhanced penalties when their use contributes to an injury or death.
- Vulnerable roadway user laws create enhanced penalties for motorists that kill or injure a cyclist or other vulnerable roadway user, similar to existing laws that create enhanced penalties for motorists that kill or injure police or road workers.
Dead Red Laws
- Some traffic signals only work when they detect a vehicle at the intersection. Dead red laws that allow cyclists to proceed through a red light, after they are stopped at an intersection for a complete light cycle and/or when there are malfunctioning signals.
- At night, a bicycle must be equipped with a front white light visible from 500 feet away and a rear red reflector visible from 100 to 600 feet away. Additionally, a rear red lamp, visible from 500 feet, may be used.
- Every bicycle must have brakes that enable the bicyclist to make the braked wheels skid on dry, level, clean pavement.
- 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..
- Clinging to motor vehicles while bicycling is not permitted.
- A bicycle may not carry more than the number of persons for which it is designed.
- A bicyclist may not carry a package that prevents both hands from remaining on the handlebars.
- Bicyclists may not ride on limited-access highways.
- Bicyclists may not park their bicycles on a highway or street in a manner that obstructs the movement of legally parked vehicles.
- Michigan’s DUI statute does not apply to bicyclists and the state does not have a biking while under the influence (BUI) statute.
Michigan E-Bike Laws
- These new statutes define e-bikes, create three classes of e-bikes, and create rules regarding the use of each e-bike class. Specific information about the e-bike law can be found at here.
- 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.