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Bike Safety Quiz: You vs. the Judge - Questions & Answers

If you recall, in the last issue we printed a few "Bike Safety Tips" that were authored by a Detroit area judge and published in a local newspaper. The judge offered numerous rules that should be followed to insure the safety of a bicyclist. We asked you to determine whether or not these tips were actual rules of law. Following is a re-print of those tips and the correct legal answers:

QUESTIONS:

  1. A person on a bike should always wear a bike helmet. Head injuries are often more serious than other types of injuries and can be fatal.
  2. A person on a bike must always obey traffic signs; this includes stop signs, yield signs and traffic lights.
  3. A person should never ride a bike on a highway; bike paths should be used.
  4. One should be very careful riding a bike in the street, however, a busy road should not have bike riders traveling on it. It is a tragedy waiting to happen.
  5. A bike rider should always ride with traffic and on the right hand side of the street.
  6. If bicyclists are riding together, they should be in single file.If you ride at night, you should wear light colored or reflective clothing and should have a light on the front and a reflector on the rear of the bike.

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ANSWERS:

  1. False. In practice, we agree with this statement 100%. However, helmets are not a required piece of equipment under state law. Some municipalities and state parks have enacted ordinances requiring minors to wear helmets, and those ordinances must be obeyed.
  2. True. A bicyclist must obey all the rules of the road, just like a vehicle.
  3. False. A highway is defined as a "pubic highway, road, or street that is open for public travel and includes bridges, sidewalks, trailways, crosswalks and culverts on the highway."1 Clearly, a cyclist does not belong on the interstate, but a cyclist is NOT required to cycle on bicycle paths. As we know, a bicyclist has full rights to ride on a roadway, provided that he or she rides as near to the right as practicable.
  4. False. Again, cyclists are entitled to ride on the road. (see above) However, use your helmet-protected head. If there is a lot of traffic, it may be best to bike elsewhere. What's the sense in being dead right, right?
  5. True.
  6. False. Cyclists are entitled to ride two abreast. Again, use common sense. If it's rush hour, it may be a better idea to ride single file. Plus, if it's busy, then the police could have cause to pull you over or ticket you for impeding traffic.
  7. True. 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.

Clearly, this quiz illustrates the need to educate both bike-riding and non bike-riding citizens and the law enforcement community, including judges, as to what is fact and what is fiction regarding statewide bicycle law. With a little education, a little more awareness and a little common sense, we can all learn to share the road and make it a safer, friendlier place for bicyclists.

As always, should any rider have questions or concerns, please feel free to contact us. Have fun and ride safely!

1. MCL §691.1401(e).