Importance of Bicyclist Safety and Legal Rights in Michigan

The rights and safety of bicyclists

When Summer begins in Michigan, combined with the popularity of bicycling, unfortunately, the number of accidents involving motor vehicles and cyclists in Michigan tends to rise. When a bike is involved in a crash with a motor vehicle, it often results in severe injuries or death. This tragic fact highlights the need to understand the importance of bicyclist safety and legal rights in Michigan.

Bicycle Crashes in Michigan by the Numbers

Between 2017 and 2022, there were over 7,000 injuries and 132 deaths in Michigan, as a result of bicycle accidents involving motor vehicles. The cities with the most of these accidents include:

  • Detroit
  • Ann Arbor
  • Lansing
  • Kalamazoo

Legal Requirements for Drivers and Bicyclists

To ensure safer road sharing between motorists and bicyclists, both parties must follow specific legal requirements. Some of those include:

A car passing a bicycle must do so at a minimum distance of 3 feet to the left of a bicycle, or if 3 feet isn’t possible, the pass must occur at a safe distance, and also at a safe speed.
Bicyclists should generally ride reasonably close to the right curb unless they’re passing another cyclist, hazard, or preparing to turn left.
When riding on sidewalks, they must yield right away to pedestrians, and single when passing.
Bicyclists riding together cannot ride more than two side by side.

Common Causes of Bicycle & Motor Vehicle Crashes and Injuries

During the more than 70 years of representing those injured in bicycle crashes, Sinas Dramis Law Firm attorneys have identified that the primary cause of bicycle accidents involving motor vehicles is driver error. Often, motorists fail to notice cyclists due to distractions like mobile phones or simply not paying enough attention. Specific scenarios, such as right turns colliding with bicyclists traveling alongside a car, exemplify instances where lack of observation leads to accidents. Distracted driving and negligence on the part of drivers contribute significantly to these incidents.

Due to the lack of protection, a bicycle has compared to a motor vehicle, it’s not surprising these collisions result in serious injuries. Common injuries include:

  • Spinal cord injuries
  • Severe orthopedic injuries,
  • Head injuries

This is why it is always recommended bicyclists wear the proper gear when riding. The most important protective action that can be taken is wearing a helmet. Helmets significantly improve outcomes in cases where head injuries occur. As a firm, Sinas Dramis is dedicated to promoting bicyclist safety, through our our annual Lids for Kids events, which provide helmets for children. The event recognizes the importance of protecting one’s most vital asset—the brain—so wearing a helmet while riding a bike is strongly advocated.

Michigan Auto No-Fault Law and Bicycles

When a bicyclist is injured in a crash involving a motor vehicle, they have the right to recover no-fault benefits under Michigan law. These benefits cover medical treatments and income loss, depending on the coverage available. If a rider crashes on their own or runs into another bicyclist, they will not be entitled to auto no-fault benefits. Additionally, if an at-fault party is involved, the injured bicyclist may pursue claims for damages, including pain and suffering and excess income loss, against that party.

Representation and Building a Strong Case for Bicyclists

Bicycle crashes with a motor vehicle can be very serious, and if you or a loved one is injured, we don’t recommend you go it alone. In these types of cases, gathering evidence becomes crucial. Often, police reports may be inaccurate or incomplete, and witness testimonies might vary. Therefore, an experienced attorney is often needed as is the examination of all available evidence. Sinas Dramis Law Firm offers free consultation and can help you move in the right direction, while you focus on your recovery.

Sinas Dramis Law Firm Partner Stephen Sinas discusses the importance of bicyclist safety and legal rights in Michigan in a recent appearance in his “In the Name of the Law” segment.