Michigan Bicycle Accident Lawyers
The tragic and absolutely devastating bicycle deaths that occurred near Kalamazoo last week highlight the growing problems bicyclists and motorists are facing on Michigan roadways. The accident occurred when a man driving a pickup truck plowed into a group of bicyclists. The collision results in the deaths of 5 bicyclists, with additional riders taken to area hospitals with serious, life threatening injuries.
Over the past weekend, another byiclist was killed in Eaton County when a vehicle struck a St. Johns man. The bicyclist was participating in an annual bike rode that draws around 300 cyclists each year. The crash occurred at the intersection of Mulliken Road and St. Joseph Highway and investigators at this time are still determining how the crash occurred.
In light of these tragedies, State Sens. Margaret O’Brien, R-Portage, and David Knezek, D-Dearborn Heights, introduced legislation last week that would expand existing law which makes it a felony punishable by 15 years in prison for a driver who is involved in a motor vehicle accident that causes serious physical injury or death.
The law would be expanded to include injury or death to a “vulnerable roadway user,” which includes pedestrians, bicyclists or people in wheelchairs.
Recreational bike riding, bike riding groups and bicycle commuting has increased dramatically over the past 15 years. Between 2008-2012, about 786,000 American commuted to work by bicycle. This was a 60% increase from 2000. In many large cities, the increase is even higher.
Various cities and towns in Michigan have installed dedicated bike lanes to allow bicyclists to travel on area roadways and streets. Detroit has implemented bike lanes around downtown and on East Jefferson towards Grosse Pointe. Lansing has also installed dedicated bike lanes. The city of Royal Oak in Oakland County have installed temporary bike lanes along the main thoroughfare (Main Street). Other towns in Michigan, from Grand Rapids to Traverse City have plans to implement bike lanes or are in the process of going forward with similar projects.
In most instances, existing bicycle lanes are not separated from vehicle traffic. This creates a dangerous situation, especially on busy streets and congested intersections where motorists may not see bicyclists traveling on the same roadway.
The Michigan Rules of the Road lists the general safety rules all motorists must follow when interacting with bicycles on the road. The Lee Steinberg Law Firm, P.C. urges everyone to follow these basic common sense rules when driving on Michigan roadways.
- When approaching an intersection, keep alert and look twice for bicyclists. Because of their size, it can be difficult to judge their speed and distance. Protect these riders by being courteous and allowing them to clear the intersection safely.
- It is important to be especially vigilant in left turn lanes. Left turns present a higher risk for crashes because its easier for motorists to overlook bicyclists due to their smaller size.
- When passing bicyclists, make sure to leave enough room so the bicyclist is not endangered.
- It is important to look for bicyclists when backing out of parking spaces. Check your mirrors before beginning the backing out process.
- Check for bicycle lanes. Under Michigan law, a bicycle lane is a portion of a roadway with pavement markings and signs exclusively for bicyclists. This lane cannot be used by motorists as a driving lane or for parking.
- Under Michigan law, bicyclists have the same rights and responsibilities as motorists. MCL Section 257.657.
It is essential to keep these Rules of the Road in mind when sharing a street or highway with a bicyclists in Michigan. Michigan bike accidents are all too common and everyone must do our part in ensuring the safety of the general public.