- In 2017, there were 783 bicyclists killed in car crashes in the United States. In Michigan, nearly 2,000 cyclists were injured, and the number of cyclists killed doubled.
- Grand Rapids has a fatal bike crash ratio that is almost three times higher than the state average, and Kent County ranks in the top three for highest number of car-bike crashes.
- The most common place for an accident to occur in Greater Grand Rapids is at an intersection on major roadways such as Division Avenue and Leonard and Fulton and 44th
- The Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT) is working with the City of Grand Rapids for “Driving Change,” an innovative campaign helping people understand the “rules of the road” between motorists and bicycles.
Grand Rapids Has Michigan’s Highest Fatal Bike Crash Ratio
For more than a decade, Grand Rapids, Michigan, a Kent County city of 200,000 people, has been busy working to create a safe bicycling infrastructure. Yet, the community has a fatal bike crash ratio that is almost three times higher than the state average. Because of this alarming fact, the Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT) has been partnering with the City of Grand Rapids and more than 40 of its local stakeholders for “Driving Change,” to promote bicyclist safety. Together, crash analyses have been conducted, including the evaluation of programs, activities and communication, and surveys and data collected to help understand the cause behind the issue. In 2015, information and statements by individuals who use Grand Rapids roads and bike paths concluded they:
- are unclear about how they are supposed to interact with new bike lanes
- are unaware of the new bicycle ordinances
- are frustrated with bad behavior displayed by both motorists and bicyclists while on the road
- believe motorists and bicyclists can share the road in harmony
Since, the “Driving Change” campaign took this feedback and pushed out both paid and earned media messages and promoted bike safety to city organizations, law enforcement partners and local leaders using videos explaining road safety techniques, guidelines for safe road sharing for motorists and bicyclists, a quiz on “healthy road relationships” and information on Grand Rapids’ bicycle safety plans.
Well Known Sites for Greater Grand Rapids Bike Crashes
According to the campaign FAQ, the most common place for a crash to occur in Greater Grand Rapids is at an intersection on major roadways such as:
- Division Avenue and Leonard
- Fulton and 44th Street
Busy intersections, drunk drivers, inattentive and distracted drivers, as well as motorists who speed or drive too close to bicyclists are some of the leading causes behind those crashes.
The document continues to say that “Many crashes involve a motorist turning at an intersection and not seeing a bicyclist who is going straight through the intersection. Many times, bicyclists are less visible to motorists because they are entering an intersection from the sidewalk rather than riding on the road where bicyclists are more visible to motorists.”
Bicyclists Who Travel on the Road vs. Sidewalk Reduce Fatal Crash Outcomes
In the summer of 2016, the “Driving Change” campaign conducted surveys with Grand Rapids residents. Bicyclists entering or crossing roadways from the sidewalk or driveways is a leading cause of crashes, but only one-third of community members believe sidewalk riding is likely to lead to an accident. The perception that riding a bicycle on the sidewalk is safer than riding on the road was still very much prevalent among drivers who:
- less frequently ride
- young children
- youth riders and teens
These groups are also the majority of cyclists who are injured or hurt in related motor vehicle crashes most often. Still, all riders should be following these easy rules for bike riding from the city’s “Driving Change” campaign.
- Bicyclists must obey all traffic signals and signs and must stop at stop signs and red lights.
- Bicyclists must be visible, so should wear bright, reflective clothing.
- When riding at night, they are required to have white front lights and red rear lights or reflectors that are visible for at least 500 feet, or about the length of a city block.
Motorists are Responsible for Watching Out for Bicyclists Too
Drivers of motor vehicles, including motorcycles, need to take especially close care of bicyclists when making a right-hand turn. These crashes frequently happen when cars are turning at intersections or driveways and when bicyclists are coming from behind their vehicle.
- Watch for bicyclists coming from behind your vehicle at, especially where congested streets meet dangerous intersections.
- At intersections, treat bikes the same as any other vehicle. If a bicyclist is riding ahead of you in the road and stops to complete a left turn, you must yield to the bicyclist just as you would for another car.
- Before turning right at an intersection or out of a driveway, check for bicyclists coming up from behind your vehicle on the right-hand side. As appropriate, yield and allow them to pass before turning.
- Do not pass bicyclists and turn right in front of them unless it is safe to do so.
- Do not use a bicycle lane as a passing or turning lane
As of September of 2018, a new law requiring Michigan drivers to give a minimum of 3-feet of room while passing bicyclists on roadways was enacted. PA 279 requires a motorist attempting to overtake a bicyclist traveling in the same direction to the left of the vehicle give at least three feet of distance to the right of the bicyclist until they have safely cleared the bicyclist.
The “Driving Change” program was recently honored at the Michigan Governor’s Traffic Safety Advisory Committee’s 2018 awards and also recognized by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s (NHTSA’s) 2018 Pedestrian and Bicyclist Assessment. The program is funded primarily through a $632,000 federal grant to the Michigan Department of Transportation in partnership with the City of Grand Rapids.
What other bicycle heavy communities in Michigan do you think could benefit from the “Driving Change” campaign?
Tell Lee Free About Your Michigan Bicycle Accident Injury
Our attorneys at The Lee Steinberg Law Firm have represented bicycle accident victims and their families for over 40 years and are experts on these cases. If you have lost a loved one as the result of a car crash involving a bicycle, our team of experienced attorneys is here to answer any questions you may have. Please call Lee Free and our bicycle accident attorneys at 1-800-LEE-FREE (1-800-533-3733) or fill out the Free Case Evaluation Form. And remember, you pay nothing until we settle your case.
At the Lee Steinberg Law Firm, we represent individuals injured in car accidents, truck accidents, and any type of negligence throughout Grand Rapids and Kent County. Whether you were injured in a motorcycle accident, a car accident, truck accident, or a slip and fall, or any other type of negligence case, give us a call.
The Lee Steinberg Law Firm has represented clients throughout the Grand Rapids area and Kent County and surrounding communities for over 40 years. Give us a call. It is a free consultation. We’re here to answer your questions and we’re ready to win your case.