Michigan traffic laws: "designated bicycle paths"

Michigan traffic laws: "designated bicycle paths"

Post by David D. Fav » Tue, 16 Jun 1998 04:00:00

The booklet "What Every Driver Must Know"
(http://www.sos.state.mi.us:80/pamphlet/wedmk/wedmk6.html) published by the
Michigan Secretary of State (DMV) states, "A bicyclist should use a designated
bicycle path if it is provided. A person riding a bicycle on a sidewalk meant for
pedestrians, must yield the right-of-way to pedestrians and sound a horn before
overtaking and passing a pedestrian."  This has gotten me to wondering several
points -- does anyone have a better knowledge of the Michigan traffic code than is
stated in this booklet or know where to find it (the full code is not available
on-line that I know of).  Specifically,

1. Does "should" mean "must"?  I generally use multi-use paths when they exist
rather than the roads along which they run, but if I am in a hurry and the path is
crowded, I sometimes use the road so that I don't need to slow down and stop so
frequently.  Other wording in the booklet uses the word "must," so I wonder if the
bicycle-path sentence is just a recommendation?

2. What constitutes a "designated bicycle path"?  I don't know of any paths that
only allow bicycles if that's what it means, although there are a few paths that
allow bicycles, pedestrians, roller-bladers, dogs, baby strollers, infants, etc.  
If I am required to use "designated bicycle paths," does that mean that I am
required to use the multi-use paths?  If so, this is a serious drawback, because
there are certain times of day / days of the week when these paths are essentially
useless as a mode of transportation, due to the large numbers of stationary objects
(e.g. dogs, baby strollers, etc.) that completely block the path.

3. Does the sounding a horn provision also pertain to multi-use paths or just
"sidewalks meant for pedestrians"?  What's the difference?  I currently don't have
a horn on my bicycle, although I'm considering getting one.  Depending on the
situation, I sometimes yell out something to alert pedestrians, roller-bladers, and
other slow-moving and stationary people that I am overtaking them (I always slow
way down when overtaking anything capable of random lateral movements), but
occasionally (when there's a lot of clearance and it's not a "random" creature like
a child or a dog) I just pass them silently because the words "passing," "passing
on your left," and "on your left" all seem to typically get translated into "move
to your left."  Unfortunately, I typically cannot make my voice be heard from far
enough back that the pedestrian has time to figure out what's going on and take
appropriate action, so I have to slow to their speed (2-3 MPH, or sometimes 0) and
tell them several times that I need to pass them (the multi-use paths are generally
posted with signs indicating that bicycles must yield right-of-way to pedestrians),
while they wiggle one way and another, and finally choose a spot to stick with to
allow me to pass.  Using a very load horn would enable me to start this process
much sooner by sounding it while I am well back from them to get their attention,
thus keeping me from having to slow down quite as much or for as long.  It would be
nice to know, however, if I am currently breaking the law by not using one.

Any additional info would be greatly appreciated.

Thank you in advance,
David Favro


Michigan traffic laws: "designated bicycle paths"

Post by JCPartr » Thu, 18 Jun 1998 04:00:00

    My name is James Partridge and I am the chairperson of the League of
Michigan Bicyclists' Legal Affairs Committee.  Everyone has correctly pointed
out that this "mandatory sidepath law" was repealed by the Michigan
legislature.  This occurred in 1995 (or 1996) after extensive effort by the
LMB.  Our website contains certain sections of the Michigan Vehicle Code that
apply to bicyclists.  Check it out and learn your rights and responsibilities.

    The LMB is interested in hearing from  those bicyclists who have been the
victim of the misapplication of traffic laws or who have had other unfortunate
run-ins with police or motorists.  We are currently surveying bicyclists
throughout Michigan to determine the extent of this problem, so that we may
develop appropriate responses, including pushing for more bicycle-friendly
legislation, and providing educational programs to cyclists, police and
motorists.  We also established a program which helps cyclists get in touch
with attorneys near them who are experienced in cycling-related issues.

    Please visit our website (http://www.lmb.org) to print a copy of the
survey, fill it out, and return it to the LMB's offices in Lansing.  The LMB
exists to serve the interests of Michigan's bicyclists.  Let us know what you
need and how we can help you.

   And, if you're not a member of the LMB, now would be a good time to join.

Thank you,
James Partridge


Michigan traffic laws: "designated bicycle paths"

Post by Lee Green MD M » Fri, 19 Jun 1998 04:00:00


>     My name is James Partridge and I am the chairperson of the League of
> Michigan Bicyclists' Legal Affairs Committee.  Everyone has correctly pointed
> out that this "mandatory sidepath law" was repealed by the Michigan
> legislature.  This occurred in 1995 (or 1996) after extensive effort by the
> LMB.

And our thanks to LMB for doing so.  IIRC, the repeal was also
considerably aided by court decisions enjoining several Michigan cities
from ticketing cyclists because of the failure of the city to maintain the
bike paths in usable condition: paths cities were trying to ticket
cyclists for not using were marred by broken pavement, glass, construction
rubble, parked vehicles, etc.

Lee Green MD MPH          Disclaimer: My postings are my doing, not
Family Practice           a service of nor in any way the
University of Michigan    responsibility of the University of

Delete the Z from my e-mail address, it's just there to foil spambots.

PGP public key on MIT keyserver at


Michigan traffic laws: "designated bicycle paths"

Post by Mike Pal » Sun, 21 Jun 1998 04:00:00

 md>Newsgroups: rec.bicycles.misc
 md>257.660. Bicycles, motorcycles, and mopeds;  lane of travel,
 md>special paths, passing, sidewalks, police officers
 md>Sec. 660...

Sheesh ! I'm glad we're not crazy in England !

Comm again, Mike.
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