What’s Required and What’s Recommended
According to Michigan law, bicycles should be equipped with certain items. Surprisingly, a helmet is still not among one of those items. Thankfully, most of us wear helmets when cycling, even though we're not required by state law to do so. We've compiled a summary of the equipment you are required to have on your bicycle. Also compiled is a list of items that we think are necessary, even if it's not required by state law.
Failure to have any of the following equipment on your bicycle could cause you to be ticketed for a civil infraction. In reality, it almost never happens. It may be a good idea, though, to invest in some of this equipment if it already isn't on your bike.
- What’s Required and What’s RecommendedLights and Reflectors. When cycling on a roadway at night (defined as between ½ hour after sunset and ½ hour before sunrise), you must have a headlamp installed on the front of your bike that emits a white light that can be visible at least 500 feet to the front. You are also required to have a red reflector on the rear of your bike that is visible from 100 to 600 feet. It is also recommended that a lamp that emits a red light be mounted on the back of your bike. While the law may only require you to have headlamps and reflectors when you operate your bike at night, we recommend that you also use these items when the weather conditions, like fog, dictate.
- Brakes. All bikes must be equipped with a brake that will enable you to skid your wheels on dry, level, clean pavement.
- Spoke Reflectors. By law, when you purchase a bicycle it must have either tires with reflective sidewalls or spoke reflectors. The reflectors on the front wheel must be colorless or amber and the reflectors on the rear wheel must be colorless or red. Reflective sidewalls or reflectors must be visible from 100 to 600 feet. If your bike isn't equipped with these items, we recommend that you purchase them and mount them on your bike. Obviously, if you never ride at night you won't need reflectors, but you never know when you might get caught riding at night or in weather with low visibility.
- Reflective Pedals. It is a requirement that all bikes be equipped with pedals that have a reflector on the front and rear surfaces of the pedal. The reflectors may either be part of the pedals or mechanically attached and must be visible from a distance of 200 feet. If you have clipless pedals, you probably don't have reflectors on your pedals. Again, if you don't ride at night this shouldn't cause any problems. Just as a precaution, you may want to purchase bike shoes that have reflectors built into the design or buy reflective stickers and put them on your shoes.
OPTIONAL BUT NECESSARY EQUIPMENT
- Helmet. Even though helmet use is not required by state law, we think everyone should wear one and wear it properly. Too often, we see people wearing their helmets too loose. Helmets are safety equipment not fashion statements. Follow the directions provided with your helmet to determine proper fit. Note: As most of you know, helmets are required to participate in most organized rides. Helmets are also required when riding in metro parks. Some local ordinances require helmets to be worn by minors. Check with your local authorities.
- Flat Fixers. There's nothing worse than being on a ride and getting a flat, especially if you have no way to repair it! A cyclist should know how to change his tires and tubes. If you don't know how, practice at home or find a friend that can show you how to do it. Carry extra tubes or tire repair kit, pump or CO2 cartridges and tire levers in your seat bag.
- Money and Identification. ALWAYS carry identification and medical altert information when cycling. If you get in an accident and are rendered unconscious, no one will be able to identify you. Keep an old drivers license or some other form of identification in your bike bag. It is also a good idea to always have a few dollars with you in case of an emergency or to purchase snacks or drinks on your ride.
- Cell phone or Coins for Payphone. You never know when you might need to make a telephone call if an emergency situation arises when out on a ride, especially if you don't know how to change your own flat - see above.
- Reflective Clothing. Even if you opt not to add reflectors to your spokes or mount a headlamp on your bike, we highly recommend that everyone invest in clothing that has reflective elements. At a minimum, invest in reflective stickers and put them on your clothes or bikes. Better yet, wear a vest with reflective strips. You can buy one at almost any store that carries running apparel. As night approaches, it is often difficult to see a biker riding. The idea is to be seen by automobile drivers. Better safe than sorry.
- Other. If you are going on a long ride (e.g. century), bring adequate fluids and snacks, as well as sunscreen. If you are riding in a new area or doing a new route, it may be a good idea to bring a map.
As always, should any rider have questions or concerns, please feel free to contact us. Have fun and ride safely!