Bike Season Is Here: The Rules For Sharing The Road With Bicycles and Motorcycles in Michigan
The weather is warming up, and it's likely you're starting to see more people around Michigan riding bicycles and motorcycles as a way to get out and stretch their legs.
While riding a bike or motorcycle as a leisurely vehicle can really help you get a closer experience with the pure Michigan we all love, it can also be extremely dangerous if not everyone on the roadway is respecting each other and following the rules.
In 2020, there were 153 motorcyclist fatalities and 38 bicycle fatalities, both of those numbers up over 20% from previous years. So as more people take to the roads to get around, it becomes even more important to follow the rules.
If you're not sure what to do when you're riding, or see someone riding, here are some helpful tips.
Do bicycles ride with or against traffic?
There is always argument on if you should ride your back towards traffic so you're able to see better, or with traffic so you're not going head on into oncoming traffic. In the state of Michigan, bicycles should ride with the flow of traffic.
Note: While other states may do the opposite and ride against traffic, you aren't supposed to in Michigan. If it makes you nervous to not see cars coming from behind, you can always get a rear view mirror for your bike or helmet.
When can I pass a bicycle or motorcycle?
You can pass a motorcycle or bicycle at any time you have enough space to do so without causing problems with other traffic.
Michigan law requires motorists to give bicyclists at least 3 feet of space when passing. Some Michigan municipalities have enacted ordinances requiring motorists to give bicyclists 5 feet of space when passing. As of October 1, 2019 these communities include: Ann Arbor, Dearborn, Grand Rapids, Kalamazoo, Kalamazoo Township, Muskegon, Norton Shores, Oshtemo Township, and Portage.
Do I have to wear a helmet?
While it's recommended, it's not required in some cases. Motorcyclists who meet certain requirements have had the freedom to ride without a helmet in Michigan since 2012.
You must be over 21 years old, have insurance of over $20,000 in liability, and have passed a safety course or have ridden for two years prior.
Do I have to have a motorcycle license to ride in Michigan?
Yes, not only is it law, but it's also the smart and safe thing to do. Riders who haven't been properly licensed are statistically more likely to be in an accident than riders who are. In a recently released report, half of Michigan motorcycle accidents involved a rider who wasn't properly licensed.
Is it safe to ride in a bicycle pack?
You may see what some people dub as "bicycle packs" or "gangs" riding around together. It may seem safer to ride in a large group, you're technically not supposed to.
Michigan law states that bicyclists and motorcyclists shouldn't ride more than two riders deep per lane. So, you can ride a long line of riders side by side, you can't have a ton of people close to each other. (And you may not want to, in case someone crashes. No one wants a wipe out.)
Can I drive my ATV or non-licensed motor vehicle on the roads?
While you're allowed to ride your non-licensed motor vehicle around designated trials and side roads in Michigan, you cannot ride them on most roadways. While it may seem fine to take a quick trip up the street on a public road, you could put yourself and others in danger.
Good luck out there as the weather warms up, and of course always keep an extra eye and glance out for our friends with two wheels. If we all follow the rules, we can have a safe and fun experience on Michigan roadways.