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Posted on Mon, Mar 15, 2010 : 5:55 a.m.

Bicyclists and drivers need to look out for each other on Ann Arbor area roads

By Rich Kinsey

Spring is just around the corner, and it’s time to think about bicyclists re-entering the traffic picture. Motorists and bicyclists are often at odds, and this causes friction between the operators of both sorts of vehicles. 

Patience, some planning and common courtesy are the keys to safely sharing the road.


Bicyclists and drivers need to learn to share the road.

First and foremost, drivers must be able to see these smaller vehicles on the road. For those driving cars, that means investing in sunglasses because the most deadly time for bicyclists and pedestrians is when the sun is rising or setting.

If you're a bicyclist, you must be aware of this, especially when riding into the sun. When doing so, you and your bicycle are only a silhouette near the side of the road. You should consider wearing a neon lime green top with reflective stripes and putting a flashing strobe tail light on. High visibility is the key.

Strobe lights on the back of bicycles are a great idea. (Thank you to the bicyclist who rode eastbound on Jackson and Huron at 'o-dark-thirty when I used to drive into work. You made a believer out of me.) The flashing strobes can be seen from a long distance, especially in low-light situations. Legally, bicycles must be equipped with lights to operate in the street during hours of darkness.

Bicycle helmets are also a must. Many years ago, a University of Michigan Hospital doctor  was riding her bicycle on Washtenaw Avenue - always a risky endeavor - near Huron Parkway into the setting sun. She wasn't wearing a helmet, and a driver didn't see her. The driver's vehicle tapped the back of her bicycle as his car came to a stop at the traffic signal. 

The rear wheel of the bicycle didn't have much damage, but the impact was enough to knock the bicyclist off the back of her bicycle. The poor woman’s head struck the curb. Had she been wearing a helmet, she likely wouldn't have died. Helmets worn by bicyclists, like seatbelts worn in automobiles, save lives. If you are a parent, make sure your children wear helmets when bicycling.

I bicycle on secondary county roads. I try to stay close to the fog line - the white line on the right side of the road - or on the paved shoulder if one is available. Sometimes it is impossible due to rough pavement, pot holes, broken glass or other debris. 

Bicyclists should consider investing in a rearview mirror for their bicycle or helmet and check the mirror before veering into the lane to avoid obstacles. Michigan motorists know all about rough roads, but must realize the problem is magnified on a bicycle. Therefore, motorists should allow bicycles half the lane when passing.

Bicyclists, on the other hand, must remember that although the state of Michigan allows bicycles to legally ride two abreast, it can be dangerous and inconsiderate. You shouldn't ride two abreast on hills or curves because it is dangerous. You should not ride two abreast on narrow two-lane roads, especially if you are holding up traffic. It may be legal, but it is inconsiderate and could become dangerous.

Bicyclists in the city should use bicycle paths where they're available and avoid darting in and out of traffic. For motorists, avoid using the bicycle paths to pass cars making left turns.

If you're a bicyclist on the sidewalk, pedestrians have the right-of-way. Bicycle slowly and carefully near driveways, storefronts, alleys and corners. When approaching a pedestrian from behind on the sidewalk, a bell or a friendly call of “passing left” to alert the pedestrian is a proper and courteous approach.

Bicycles are fun and are increasingly being used as modes of transportation. Bicycles are eco-friendly and reduce our dependence on foreign oil. They're here to stay, so motorists and bicyclists must learn to share the road.

Lock it up (invest in a good bicycle lock and use it), don’t leave it unattended (it doesn’t take long for someone to hop on your bicycle and ride off), be aware (that bicycles can be hard to see), and watch out for your neighbors.

Rich Kinsey is a retired Ann Arbor police detective sergeant who now blogs about crime and safety for


Matt Smith

Mon, Mar 22, 2010 : 1 p.m.

@John Waterman Totally agree.

Rob T

Sat, Mar 20, 2010 : 12:06 a.m.

I religiously follow the rules of the road when cycling. I obey traffic signals, I indicate my turns, and I have lights. If my fellow cyclists aren't respectful, please don't take it out on me. Don't pass too closely, and give me room to navigate potholes.


Thu, Mar 18, 2010 : 9:19 p.m.

David, If you depended on a bicycle, or just enjoyed riding one for recreation, how would you route a a ride from South Ann Arbor to give yourself a safe ride of say...40 miles? I try to ride South on Platt towards Milan, then West towards Tecumseh, then North again back to Saline via Macon. Every one of these road has a 55mph speed limit. I have a right to each of those roads. I ride those roads in daylight, and put a strobe on my rear end. I try to ride them at the same time every day, to get drivers used to my presence. I still have trucks, whose drivers have at least chauffeurs licenses, if not a CDL, pass me illegally. Autos and Pickup trucks? Forget about it. Maybe we need a open carry law here. To the other posters, Really, give a cyclist a break, really. Is it legal for me to wave a pistol at the texting/cell phone/changing the radio station/ too lazy to look driver?

in situ

Thu, Mar 18, 2010 : 6:04 p.m.

I agree with deres and David above. As a driver, I am very considerate to bicyclists, but I have to be able to see you first! I travel the back roads between Ann Arbor to Manchester frequently and am extremely vigilant for both deer and cyclists. Last Thursday at around 10:30pm, I witnessed a bicyclist traveling east on Austin Rd. a mile or so before Schneider Rd. It was rainy, dark and this area has some blind curves; I was shaken by the thought that I could've VERY EASILY hit this person had I been driving east. I attempted to warn oncoming traffic by flicking my brights (like when there are deer ahead), but had to accept the situation was out of my control. That cyclist had a death wish, but yet I should go to jail if I hit him?


Thu, Mar 18, 2010 : 1:20 p.m.

When I cycle to work or around town, I try to obey the rules of the road, yet my instinct of survival, e.g. my primitive brain prevents me from endangering myself by obeying most of the rules all the time. I take my cues from Darwin, not foolish road rules that put me in danger. I would NEVER ride my bike down Scio Church or Platt roads because that is suicidal. By the same token I will ride on the sidewalk in downtown on a weekends because the roads are packed with cars. Think people and you shall survive.


Thu, Mar 18, 2010 : 7:30 a.m.

aachnsed - actually, it's murkier than that. Bicycles are not technically "vehicles" under Michigan law, and the passing laws refer to passing vehicles. I would also bet there's a good deal of case law involving passing cyclists, since bicyclists have been on the road longer than motorists and have had the right to use the roads longer. It's hard to believe that there haven't been cases where a motorist crossed a double-yellow traffic control device to pass a cyclist, with no other traffic but the cyclist, motorist, and a police officer, only to get a ticket and have it tested in court. Cyclists have a right to use the non-expressway roads, motor vehicles have been too wide to share many lanes for a long time, and an overtaking vehicle operator has to both pass at a safe distance and not cross the center line. It's pretty obvious that there needs to be some flexibility there, and I'd be surprised to find that there aren't cases where judges have concluded that passing slower-moving small vehicles when it's otherwise done safely is legal, even in no-passing zones. Actually, that may be the reason Michigan decided to use doublespeak and say bicycles aren't vehicles. Everywhere else people use the dictionary definition that clearly includes bicycles as vehicles. I think it's in everyone's best interest to have that a bit murky. It makes the more dangerous, higher power, and overtaking, vehicle operator responsible for passing safely. Since the courts have made it clear that motorists and cyclists have equal rights to use the public roads, it makes sense for the overtaking motorist to have the burden of ensuring the pass is done safely. If we had lots of narrow, mountain roads it would make sense to have a "five and pull-over" law, where if there are five vehicles backed up behind you, you're required to pull over and let them pass. Here we just have a lot of aggressive drivers.


Wed, Mar 17, 2010 : 11:43 p.m.

@nonyo: "It is also legal to cross the double yellow line to pas a tractor, bicycle, etc., as long as you do it safely." No it is NOT legal. It is never legal to cross a double yellow line. There are no exceptions in the Michigan vehicle code. Most LEOs will use discretion, but they can cite you for any infraction. Those lines indicate a section of road where visibility is limited and passing is dangerous, which is not the option you should recommend. "You are confusing limited access highways with surface roads. There is no minimum speed limit." I'm not confusing them, rather I'm recommending we restrict primary, high-speed (40+) roads the same way we do highways. It's dangerous for both drivers and cyclists, and I don't believe they should share those roads.


Wed, Mar 17, 2010 : 8:47 p.m.

aachnsed, You are confusing limited access highways with surface roads. There is no minimum speed limit. It is also legal yo cross the double yellow line to pas a tractor, bicycle, etc., as long as you do it safely. Let's say I'm a cyclist who is commuting from Ann Arboror Ypsilanti to, say Milan. How would you propose I get there if I don't take a road like Platt, Carpenter, or Saline Ann Arbor/Milan? I honestly don't understand why a motorized vehicle drive can't just let up on the gas for a few seconds, and give a cyclist a safe passing distance. Some of the comments on this subject are troublesome, to say the least. Should cyclists obey all traffic laws? Of course, but so should motor vehicles. I doubt there is anyone here who can honestly say that they come to a complete stop at every stop sign. That they always stop behind the white line, that they never exceed 25 mph in a residential zone, that they always signal before turning or changing lanes. Realistic laws for cyclists would help. Many (most?) of the 'smart" lights in Ann Arbor will not detect a bicycle, or even four, so they stay red until a car comes along. Some states have adopted Stop as Yield, Red as Stop laws for cyclists. This means that a cyclist treats a stop sign as a yield, and a red light as a stop stop sign. Cyclists are generally traveling slower than a car, and have better visibility, sound awareness. The bike lanes in Ann Arbor are more like debris fields. They are filled with glass and potholes. Believe me, a cyclist doesn't want to weave around, they just want to ride unimpeded. If they are weaving, chance are the road is not passable, and they are allowed to use as much as the road to safely ride as needed. Bicycles aren't going away. Every complaint I've heard regarding cyclists could be repeated substituting 'drivers' for 'cyclists'. Share The Road


Wed, Mar 17, 2010 : 4:20 p.m.

Jcj, Why do you care? No matter what, a driver doesn't have the right to kill a pedestrian or cyclist, even if they are disobeying every traffic law in the book. You stop and give them the right away. That is the law! You drivers need to obey it and follow your own demands that traffic laws must be obeyed. The law says you must take last action avoidence to prevent a collision. So practice what you preach to others and get off your band wagons, cell phones, and power trips, and try to pretend you are courteous, intelligent, and cooperative drivers.

Woman in Ypsilanti

Wed, Mar 17, 2010 : 11:49 a.m.

As an automobile driver who never rides a bike, I just have to say that I love the streets in town with dedicated bike lanes such as Packard. I feel way more comfortable passing the many bicyclists I see on that road than I do passing them on Wastenaw (between Stadium and S. U). I hope more roads in Washtenaw County which are currently two lanes in each direction get redone so they have bike lanes and left turn lanes.


Wed, Mar 17, 2010 : 11:18 a.m.

Many drivers don't tolerate others driving the *speed limit* -- aka obeying the law -- and will tailgate and curse. Why do you think they would tolerate others going even slower? On slower roads and in the city, I feel the points in this article offer some common sense. My issue is with roads with higher speed limits. I've often heard that you don't have the right to go 25 MPH on a 50 MPH road, with the logic that variance in speeds is more dangerous than the speed itself, as it leads to unsafe maneuvers. That is conveyed on Michigan government traffic law sites. Having a high percentage of people passing using the oncoming lane is dangerous. When I give a cyclist half of the lane, that often means I'm at least halfway into the oncoming lane; that doesn't leave the oncoming vehicles room, meaning I'm essentially making a pass. Also, if while driving my car I get a citation for "impeding the flow of traffic" for going 25 in a 50, that indicates there is a minimum speed limit being enforced. Hey, what if we organize a "half speed" day on roads 40 and up? We can double our commutes and and see how many of us get traffic citations for doing 25 in a 50. If a cyclist is allowed to do essentially that, there is an issue with the law being interpreted differently, which usually means the law can be challenged. Another example: Joy road West of A2. There is a several-mile stretch that is hilly, bumpy-edged with double solids. Since you can't legally pass, what do cyclists expect cars to do? I think instances like this is where some of the animosity comes from. Your choice is to either follow them up and down hills or make an illegal/dangerous pass. For those comparing this to farm equipment/tractors, I feel that is irrelevant. I encounter cyclists on a daily basic in better weather, but tractors only a handful of times annually on my rural roads. The farmers are conscientious of peak commute times and normally use roads at off-peak hours. They travel a limited amount of miles, and pull over frequently to let others pass. I believe we need to restrict certain high-speed primary roads to higher-speed motor vehicles, like we do on freeways, unless the roads has a separate bike lane. It boils down to the fact laws may be in place, but that does mean they can't be updated and modernized to improve safety.


Wed, Mar 17, 2010 : 8:23 a.m.

The road system, in and around Ann Arbor, is primarily designed for motor vehicles. The bike lanes that exist are in as poor condition as the rest of the roads. They are often full of loose gravel, pushed off the generally deteriorating road surface. Michigan, in general, is unique in that despite our good manners in normal life (think "excuse me"..etc.) we are rude and intolerant on the road. Do you think this comes from our "The Car is King" attitude? I drive and bike the 4 mile commute to work, alternating depending upon time pressure / weather. I experience both sides of the issue. I have seen cyclists bike straight through stop signs. I have also encountered extremely thoughtful and courteous drivers, along with homicidal idiots. I have biked in several countries and states. I have to say the only time I have had a trucks blare their horns, pull up beside me and shout obscenities is in South East Michigan. Interesting. I think bright lights are important, and I agree that the vest with little LED lights are inadequate. For any cyclists that want to be seen I recommend these:- "Be Safe, Be Seen"

Tom Teague

Wed, Mar 17, 2010 : 8:02 a.m.

I hope the basic point of Mr Kinsey's rather balanced article isn't lost amidst the vitriol in some of these comments: Bicyclists, motorists and even pedestrians share a lot of common space and -- whether we like it or not -- we have a relationship with others who are using the same roads at the same moment we are. When someone makes an imperfect decision in a car, on a bike or afoot, it may be up to us to help avoid a collision. No matter what the laws of Michigan say, the laws of physics play trump in accidents.


Wed, Mar 17, 2010 : 6:27 a.m.

I'm OK with sharing the road with bicycles. But I have a slightly different concern from those that have been posted so far. I am afraid that I will hit a bicyclist on my way to work because I can't see him or her in the dark. I drive down Scio Church and Zeeb road at 6:30 in the morning, and if you are on a bike, I probably won't see you until I am fairly close to you. This morning, for example, there was a bike rider on Zeeb Road going north. The rider was wearing dark clothing from head to toe, with two tiny red LEDs flashing, one in the front, and one in the back of the bike. I did not see this bike until I was passing him at 45 miles per hour. Those tiny LEDs do not make any difference - they are absorbed by street lights, headlights, and lights of businesses. Also, bikers, please understand that those yellow reflective vests DO NOT WORK. I have often passed bicyclists wearing those vests and my headlights did not reflect anything. Think of how those reflectors are attached to the vest, then ask yourself how well they'll work when you're hunched over your handle bars. And if you're going to bike in the dark, you need several flashing, bright white lights (not red) in front and back. Have a friend follow you sometime at night and tell you how well your lights and reflectors are working - they may not be.

Anonymous Due to Bigotry

Tue, Mar 16, 2010 : 9:22 p.m.

Bob: I think the problem is that the cops need to start issuing tickets to cyclists who run stop signs, stoplights, etc. I'm pretty sure that if the AAA goes on a campaign trying to convince motorists that they shouldn't run stop lights, it isn't going to make any difference if nobody ever gets a ticket for running one. So if you want to help with that, start lobbying the city council and the police to ticket cyclists.

Bob Krzewinski

Tue, Mar 16, 2010 : 7:50 p.m.

Two things... 1. On cyclists not obeying stop signs and signals, every bicycling group is repeatedly trying to get the message out that cyclists MUST obey all traffic rules. Maybe parents can help out with this too, educating their children about not only safe cycling, but setting an example when they drive (such as pointing out how they are, all the time, obeying speed limits). 2. On the comments that cyclists don't belong on the road, as a US Navy veteran, are you saying that I, and other military veterans, don't deserve to be on the road after giving years of our life to our country,even if we follow all traffic laws?


Tue, Mar 16, 2010 : 7:04 p.m.

@Phillip Farber I for one pledge to be more patient when encountering cyclist on the road. I see motorist all the time hug the fog line when there is a cyclist or a car on the side of the road. Motorist wake up it takes nothing to get over when it is clear. When there is on coming traffic slow down it is not worth the risk to drive as if they are not there! @pebbles5 You made a very good point. What would be the problem for a cyclist to show some courtesy and pull over when traffic is backed up behind them? How do we co-exist? We both give a little and watch out for the other guy. I will try to do my part.


Tue, Mar 16, 2010 : 6:47 p.m.

@ralphypsilanti, sometimes you just have to stay behind a bicyclist on our narrow, shoulderless roads. But what about the bicyclist who keeps a long train of cars behind him, then blows through the stop sign at an intersection, when he could so easily have held himself up a little (actually stopping) and let that string of 10 cars go around him safely while he waits...I have seen school buses wait for cars to pass, mail trucks wait, but not once have I seen a bicyclist wait for cars to pass. Is inertia such a dear thing that they can't afford to lose it? I saw a strange thing the other day--a bicyclist actually stopped at a red light when there was no traffic at the intersection. I about fainted; instead I cheered for him!

Phillip Farber

Tue, Mar 16, 2010 : 5:34 p.m.

@jcj I am a cyclist. I "ADMIT that not all cyclist[s] obey the rules of the road just like not all motorist obey the rules of the road." Now that we've got that point out of the way can we talk about how cyclists and drivers can co-exist?


Tue, Mar 16, 2010 : 2:27 p.m.

snapshot I agree there are angry motorist out there and they need to be careful how they vent their frustration. Post on here are a much better way to vent than doing it while you are in your vehicle. But can I get just one cyclist out there to ADMIT that not all cyclist obey the rules of the road just like not all motorist obey the rules of the road. Until both sides admit that the other side has some valid complaints both arguments loose any validity! I hesitated to use the term sides because we should not be against one another. We all have friends or family that either drive or ride. Neither side wins in an accident. And it is of little value to be "right".


Tue, Mar 16, 2010 : 2:18 p.m.

A biker belongs on the road and must (should)obey all traffic lights and/or stop signs. A sidewalk was placed on the side, because a person can not travel as fast as a biker. Futher more I am backing out of my driveway, You hit me, on a bike on the sidewalk you are a fault. Just a few years back a person in front of the Judge, was told what a sidewalk was. Because the Lady was backing out of her driveway and a biker came rolling down the sidewalk could not stop in time slamed in to the side of her car. And a biker can not text and/or talk on a cell phone unless blue tooth. So I would much rather follow a biker on the rode and slow down and not be in a hurry, allow yourself lots of time.

Emily Campbell

Tue, Mar 16, 2010 : 1:23 p.m.

I just wish bikes would use the bike paths that are already there. I walk down Packard on my way home from work and I cannot tell you how many times a bike surprises me from behind, sometimes not even acknowledging I'm there. The city has created very nice bike lanes on Packard and there is absolutely no excuse for not using them.


Tue, Mar 16, 2010 : 11:37 a.m.

@ actionjackson, yeah he did.


Tue, Mar 16, 2010 : 10:25 a.m.

@ David Didn't know Winston Churchill rode a bike?


Tue, Mar 16, 2010 : 10:09 a.m.

Its great to see an article on the important role both motorists and cyclists play in co-existing peacefully on the road. Both parties have the responsibility to follow traffic laws, be attentive, and be courteous to other road users. If youre frustrated by the type of cycling you see on the roads, stop and consider why the cyclist is riding in a certain way. Perhaps theyre simply not following the law or perhaps theres a legitimate reason they are riding in a way you consider annoying. Swerving down the road...maybe the road condition is so poor they need to do so to protect their tires. Running a red light...maybe theyve grown tired of waiting for lights that dont detect cyclists. Riding two abreast on a country road...not only is this legal, but many recreational cyclists have found thats the only way to make people slow down and pass them safely. An irritated driver passing appropriately is better than a dangerous driver that attempts to squeeze past a cyclist. Locally, the Washtenaw Bicycling and Walking Coalition advocates (yes, there is a bike lobby) for better education for both motorists and cyclists. We have certified bicycling instructors that have provided training workshops for cyclists. We work with municipalities to provide increased enforcement for both motorists and cyclists, increased education for all road users, and better facilities for both cyclists and pedestrians. Why? For the past 60+ years our country/city has been focused on building facilities for one form of transportation -- the automobile. However, approximately 1/3 of Americans can not/ are not able to/do not want to want to drive a car. Building facilities for bikers and walkers is not only of benefit to current users, it also encourages more people to bike and walk and there are additional benefits for the city as well. In Portland, Oregon, where $57 million has been spent on a 300-mile bikeway/pedestrian network since 1991, bicycling has increased up to 15-20 percent a year. By 2040, Rails to Trails calculates, Portlands net benefit from better health and reduced fuel savings will be $1.2 billion. We need to encourage more people to make use of active forms of transportation. We can only do that if we offer good, safe, welcoming facilities. If youre a motorist, do your part and take a deep breath next time you come upon a cyclist... it will only take you a few seconds to pass them safely. Or better yet, try riding your bike instead of your car for one of your next errands. Thanks, Washtenaw Bicycling and Walking Coalition (


Tue, Mar 16, 2010 : 10:05 a.m.

I think Debling has a point. Regardless of WHAT a cyclist or a pedestrian does, or doesn't do drivers need to yield to their indiscretions. It is not reason to endanger their lives by "proving" your point with aggressive movements with your vehicles. No one knows what "really" causes an accident, the attitude of the driver just prior to the "accident" can make the difference between life and death. From the attitude of the drivers I see here, if any of you ever hit a bicylce or pedistrian I would assume you were angry and trying to prove a point, or "teach" a lesson, and something went wrong in the "process". You folks are scary.


Tue, Mar 16, 2010 : 8:42 a.m.

debling "I only takes one act of poor judgment to take a life and devastate a family." A true statement that applies to cyclist as well. Has any accident ever been caused by a cyclist? I suspect some would think not. ( I truly mean this in general terms not referring to the one that is constantly mentioned) "Negligence like this destroys families, but is never forgotten." I assume YOU have never needed forgiveness! Why keep picking at a wound? Nobody has a chance to heal with this type of attitude. Do you think your attacks bring comfort to the families? If somebody gives you an olive branch you don't give them a grenade! To continue to persecute a young man that made a terrible mistake is unconscionable! If this post is not printed I would hope the poorly veiled attack by DEBLING would also be pulled!

Mumbambu, Esq.

Tue, Mar 16, 2010 : 7:59 a.m.

Last night I was driving on Platt between Ellsworth and Verle. I didn't see one other car. Why do we have all these miles of roads if nobody uses them? What a waste of tax payer money!


Tue, Mar 16, 2010 : 7:52 a.m.

@ actionjackson, we will fight on the beaches, we will fight in the sky, we will fight in the street, we will ride 4 or 5 abreast into oncoming traffic... we will never surrender! If a cyclist follows the rules as they are now in A2, he (or she) risks injury.


Mon, Mar 15, 2010 : 11:07 p.m.

Once again an appeal for a safe season of driving and biking. Let's be considerate of everyone else on the road, whether they are driving, biking or walking. This is particular true for those driving vehicles (a 4000 lb + killing machine). It only takes one act of poor judgment to take a life and devastate a family. It's like the time NICHOLAS WAHL of Clinton, MI (and current student of Grand Valley State University) killed Timothy Pincikowski on July 28, 2009 on Maple Road in Pittsfield Twp. Negligence like this destroys families, but is never forgotten.

Anonymous Due to Bigotry

Mon, Mar 15, 2010 : 10:58 p.m.

More cyclists need to stop breaking traffic laws if they want to be taken seriously as anything other than a nuisance. Cops need to start ticketing cyclists who break traffic laws but I don't think I've ever seen this happen. Cyclists also need to take into account that when they do stuff to slow down or obstruct traffic, they may just be damaging the planet. This is because they're keeping cars on the roads longer and forcing them to idle longer and emit more exhaust. Doing anything to increase the risk of an accident is also harmful to the planet because accidents back up traffic and keep cars idling on the road longer forcing them to emit more pollution. So if you're riding a bicycle because you want to save the earth or something, go about it the right way because otherwise you may just cause more pollution than if you had simply driven a car.


Mon, Mar 15, 2010 : 10:53 p.m.

Drivers in Ann Arbor are either rude, distracted, or too courteous. The animonsity towards bicycles is so bizzare it sounds like these drivers feel they should have a right to kill those bicyclists who offend them. they demand obedience of all traffic laws but but don't know the laws themselves. Hey here's a newsflash, tailgating is illegal and so is blocking intersections. Every other driver is on a cell phone---yeah I'm listening to your driving advice. Then the overly courteous who stay at the stop sign until there is no traffic in sight. Or at the four way stop they want to let every one else go first. I think there should be a law, hit a bicycle or a motorcycle, go to jail.


Mon, Mar 15, 2010 : 9:13 p.m.

I always drive considerately when I come upon a bicyclist on the road, but today I was driving on campus on the way to class, behind a guy on a bike who blew through not one, but two stop signs. Didn't even slow down. I would've got a ticket for that. Then, about an hour ago I was on my home when I saw another bike on the road and he had a light in the front and back. That would've been great if he hadn't been driving against traffic instead of with traffic. Those are things that tick me off. I have no problem sharing the road but fair is fair. Follow the same rules I have to.


Mon, Mar 15, 2010 : 8:52 p.m.

Thanks, jcj! This blog is evolving and growing more civil and reasoned and that is good for all; and it's the same civility and respect you are showing on the street corner, which I appreciate when I see it. Let's all try it. Next time you go out. Life is short, people. We're all in this together.


Mon, Mar 15, 2010 : 7:46 p.m.

As one who has been very critical of cyclist in the past, I think this is one of the most complete articles on the subject I have seen. I seldom ride my bike but when I do I try to act the same as I do when not riding. I will hold open a door for a man or women, when I am walking I will hurry across an intersection if someone is waiting to make a turn. What I am trying to say is if people would start being a little more considerate whether they are in a car or on a bike there would be less friction. But then most people are not considerate no matter where they are! Everyone seems to think that the world revolves around them!

Phillip Farber

Mon, Mar 15, 2010 : 6:03 p.m.

@John Waterman Bravo! Well said.

John Waterman

Mon, Mar 15, 2010 : 2:14 p.m.

How can someone in a 2 ton, 300 hp, air conditioned, heated, leather seat, concert sound system, gps with a hands free communication system vehicle feel their being inconvienced by a young man with a disability attempting to ride to his job? Not everyone has the ability to get a driver's license. An individual who rides their bike to two part time jobs,so they can be a productive member of our society and support themself should be respected. I am sorry you are slowed down as I struggle to ride to work regardless of the weather. Cyclist and drivers break the rules and should be dealt with accordingly by the local authorities. When cyclists are killed the cry to ban bikes from the road inceases. When motorists are killed there is never a cry to ban cars or restrict licenses.

Brent Lofgren

Mon, Mar 15, 2010 : 1:57 p.m.

Thanks for this write-up. It's good to hear that it's coming from someone who actually does some bike riding in order to know what's going on. To people like AAW, although I acknowledge that there are some or even many bicyclists who do dangerous and illegal things, I challenge them to look at what motorists do in places where a sidewalk route for bicycles and pedestrians crosses a road. Only a tiny percentage regard a stop sign as meaning, "Stop right here" rather than "stop once your car is straddling the crosswalk." Many bother only to look to their left when making a right turn at such a place. Perhaps part of the perception of few people using bicycles is that motorists are willing to ignore even the possibility of their being there.


Mon, Mar 15, 2010 : 1:54 p.m.

@phil farber...did you forget the unusally high number of hybrids, and electric cars in this community? They'll still be on the road...or are those more "green" than the rest of us more considerate as well?

Phillip Farber

Mon, Mar 15, 2010 : 1:21 p.m.

I'm moved to wonder how much different this community conversation will be when gas reaches $7/gallon. But that'll never happen. Right?


Mon, Mar 15, 2010 : 1:15 p.m.

No support from me for the lack of process and wink wink nod nod official Ann Arbor. It boomerangs in deep distrust of government and inhibits working toward the common good later on.


Mon, Mar 15, 2010 : 12:15 p.m.

When car comes up behind a farm tractor or a stop & go waste pick-up vehicle. The person in the car might just sigh and wait for a safe opportunity to pass. The driver obeys Michigan law or at least understands overtaking the vehicle could be dangerous and fatal. So why is sharing the road with bicyclist's any different? The bicycle has a smaller dimensional size. The opportunity to make a safe pass would come quicker than a farm or waste pick-up vehicle. When car comes up behind a bicyclist. The person should view the bicyclist, just as a farm tractor and waste pick-up vehicle using the same manners. Wait for a safe opportunity to pass. When commuting by bicycle, I find most car drivers pass safetly by me (good people). Only a small percent don't. I commute 30% by car and 70% by bicycle. There's plenty of room for all. BTW: I contribute to city, county, state and federal dollars that go into our road system (taxes and registration fees).

scooter dog

Mon, Mar 15, 2010 : 12:11 p.m.

(Milo) Your comment hit the nail on the head,sadly it will never happen.Don't know what the answer is but I do know that bikes and cars do not mix.never have and never will.I quit riding my bike down the road long ago.I like living,and with the lack of laws regarding killing someone on a bike your fault or not,you/I/we have to be nuts to think most people are looking out for you.Good luck.


Mon, Mar 15, 2010 : 12:07 p.m.

@ed V...I guess if it is a law it is right. Give me a break. Does all the money spent in Ann Arbor come from this state fund? How much of the bill for improvements is out of the Ann Arborite pocket. There are other ways to do bike routes than by having them directly impact our roads and traffic flow. There are many easements through neighborhoods that connect to schools and parks in the city which could be used. May not be as direct a route but certainly less dangerous for the bike rider and less disruption to our traffic flow.


Mon, Mar 15, 2010 : 11:59 a.m.

djm12652 thurber--huh? Was thinking about European towns in which bicycles outnumber cars. When a bicycle is the top of the food chain the balance of power shifts to them, and it's the pedestrians who are threatened, whereas in Ann Arbor it's the cars and trucks and heck yes, AATA buses that threaten the bicyclist. It's all about mass and speed. Here in Ann Arbor the bicyclist feels it on the street up against the motor vehicle; and the pedestrian feels it on foot on the sidewalk when up against a bigger, faster more dangerous bike or Segway possibly hitting you. The rest of my cryptic rant was that Europeans have taxed the heck out of fossil fuels making them less fun to burn up; they don't have as harried an existence due to long vacations and shorter work weeks and less time spent commuting to the burbs; and from all that biking and walking exercise they feel better and don't have the obesity we have. Courtesy and empathy are needed to coexist on the roads. It's dangerous no matter which transportation mode you employ. Take it easy.


Mon, Mar 15, 2010 : 11:44 a.m.

@thurber...You bet there is a bike lobby in this city. They operate under the radar but are connected to council. How else does a non-motorized transportation plan get passed. When this plan was going through the process it was kept as quiet as a church mouse.


Mon, Mar 15, 2010 : 11:36 a.m.

>David.."We will continue to obstruct traffic" Do you really mean that you are willing to die for your absurd statement of this sort? Hope you don't have any loved one's that will miss you.


Mon, Mar 15, 2010 : 11:18 a.m.

@Ed V. That must be morning rush hour for bikers. How about someone do a count of bike riders? Get out at various times during the day and do a count. The taxpayer has put up mega dollars to enhance routes for bikers. I maintain there is a far too small percentage of the community that benefits from these ongoing improvements. The bike as a mode of transportation for commuting to and from work appeals to few regardless of the build it and they will come attitude that prevails. We keep on spending and redesigning for ghost riders and a connected bike lobby.


Mon, Mar 15, 2010 : 11:02 a.m.



Mon, Mar 15, 2010 : 10:53 a.m.

The bike lobby. Is there really a bike lobby? I've ridden all my life and am considered a safe and cautious person on his bike and in most all of life's dangerous situations. I was hit one night commuting home on Miller near dusk, both me and the driver were acting legally and responsibly. It is my sense from the angry posts denouncing bicycles that half of you deeply distrust government-imposed progressive policies trying to legislate some ridiculously expensive and over regulated new world order; the other half are just fighting for your own share of a scarce supply of limited street space, in part because you are over stressed, time constrained, overweight over committed fossil fuel addicted Americans. Or you may be nothing of the sort. Take it easy. I'm not part of any bike lobby. Lighten up.


Mon, Mar 15, 2010 : 10:53 a.m.

I agree about the license! I've mentioned it a few times too. I think it seems reasonable and makes sense.


Mon, Mar 15, 2010 : 10:43 a.m.

I dare say I'm most likely to get hammered on this, but why not license bicycles the same as cars? A two fold resolution, money raised to increase, maintain bike lanes and the ability to ticket traffic violators. And I will say as a downtown resident I am mainly pedestrian and my close calls to being run over are about 50-50 between cars turning right on red and not yeilding to me in the crosswalk as well as bicycles running red lights, dashing in and out of traffic, going from road to sidewalk to avoid having to stop.


Mon, Mar 15, 2010 : 10:36 a.m.

Check out Amsterdam, the Netherlands - the bicycle RULES. The arrangement seems to work in this city. Perhaps they have a different mind-set, not adversarial, simply people peacefully coexisting. Been on both sides - driver/bicyclist, and found bicycling in A2 way too scary. Knowledge of laws concerning bicycling AND obeying them would be a good idea for BOTH drivers AND cyclists. Please keep in mind that the vehicle driver has the advantage and MOST bicyclists aren't trying to aggravate YOU. And besides, would you really want to injure, possibly kill a bicyclist because you've been inconvenienced?


Mon, Mar 15, 2010 : 10:36 a.m.

@Natalie Holbrook, I agree with you too. There are considerates of both and inconsiderates as well. This morning as I was biking into work I had a white Honda Fit drive by me so close I had to get as close to the curb as humanly possible to let them squeeze by me without hitting me, and this after we had both stopped at a red light. Can't drivers that see a considerate bicyclist be considerate back to them?


Mon, Mar 15, 2010 : 10:27 a.m.

Those of you arguing that auto accidents occur so bicyclists are safer...remember that there are FAR more autos on the road than bicyclists. OF COURSE there are more accidents involving autos. If I took video of my short commute to and from work (only on city streets) I would see < 1% of autos on my commute breaking the law but close to 85% of bicyclists seen on my commute breaking the law. If you deny that a far greater percentage of bicyclists break the law either you are fooling yourself. I agree the roads need to be shared. However, in my experience in Ann Arbor with bicyclists, it is the rare bicyclist who actually follows the law. Again - I argue if you're going to ride on the road, you should be required to get a LICENSE. Just like an auto. You've got to know the laws and I believe you should be required to pass a test (visual and written) indicating that you know the laws. This license should also be subject to revokation or points if you don't follow the laws.

Natalie Holbrook

Mon, Mar 15, 2010 : 9:57 a.m.

I drive a car and I ride a bicycle. Bicycling is my major form of transportation, but I do own a car and use it too. I follow all road rules while riding and driving. But let me be clear that day after day, I see way more cars refusing to follow road rules than bicycles. I witness careless people texting, surfing the internet, or simply fiddling with their electronic devices--heads buried in their laps engrossed in the keyboards of their phones. Eyes not on the road, feet still on the gas pedal, plowing ahead. Everyday that I ride, I see this happen. And I really see it, cause I peer in windows as these tons of steel come swerving close to my exposed body. Now some of you will say I am the ignorant one for riding my bicycle on the road. But peak oil has already happened folks. And cars are dangerous whether you are on the road on a bicycle or on the road in a car. Vehicular crashes (that's auto on auto crashes) kill approximately 115 people a day in the US. For all of you folks that bash cyclists, please know that there are inconsiderate (rule violating) people who ride bicycles and inconsiderate (rule violating) people who drive cars. And then there are considerate drivers and considerate riders. Until the day comes when I either get killed or disabled or grow too old to ride any longer, I'll be out on the road riding my bicycle next to you drivers. I ask that we strive for being considerate to one another and driving and riding safely.


Mon, Mar 15, 2010 : 9:55 a.m.

@a2gerry...You are in the minority if you follow the rules and use lighting. The occasional rider is a different beast. You certainly must be happy though since you have miles of bike lanes that are certainly underutilized. You basically have your own express lane. Whereas, autos go along at a snails pace to make it easy for a handful of bike riders. Rarely see bikes along W. Stadium, Packard, State or S. Main. Yet vehicular flow is stifled by the bike lanes for ghost riders.


Mon, Mar 15, 2010 : 9:54 a.m.

Its all about respect. Drivers of cars need to respect cyclists as legitimate users of the road. Its the law. (and that is a period) When people learn that cars, trucks, buses, motorcycles, mopeds, and bicycles all have the same rights to use roads, and give those users the rights, space and respect they are entitled to, then we can all travel in relative safety. And please don't throw the "bicyclists need to follow the rules" argument out there again, because cars need to follow the laws too; stopping completely at stops signs, respecting rules of four-way stops, obeying speed limits, proper passing on two lane roads. These are all rules I see cars violate every day. We all need to follow the rules.


Mon, Mar 15, 2010 : 9:30 a.m.

It's good to see a story about bicycle safety, but where is the admonition to drivers being distracted talking on their cell phones or worse texting. It's amazing that in Ann Arbor a supposed bicycle friendly town that so many comments show such hostility to bicyclists riding on the road. I've been a bicycle commuter for my entire adult life and I have to say that the hostility I see from drivers around here is at a peak. I always follow the rules of the road and ride with lights but I still am met will rude and dangerous behavior. For those of you out there screaming that bicyclists do not belong on the road, I think it's time you take a good inner look at why you can't accommodate any one else on "your" road.


Mon, Mar 15, 2010 : 9:25 a.m.

I don't know how many miles of bike trails there are that the taxpayers pay for, but that is were the bikes belong! I own a pice of equipment that is 10' 6" wide, between dodgeing cars & ped's, then the bikes think they own the road and show no mercy to a truck weighing 50 tons. STAY OF THE ROADS FOR YOUR OWN SAFTEY! wideload


Mon, Mar 15, 2010 : 9:23 a.m.

I can see the points in almost all posts. It's a tough issue. I breathe a sigh of relief when I get to West Park or any other car-free zone. Obeying the law on my bike, signaling, I was almost hit by a car on 7th. I fear for my son's safety when he rides, esp. at night. I encourage him to use the sidewalks as the only alternative to avoid cars. Cyclists should be very, very wary and alert for driveways. I don't know another solution right now when there isn't a bike path.

Rhe Buttle

Mon, Mar 15, 2010 : 9:23 a.m.

Arieswoman is correct. You want ME to obey the law as a driver, but a bicycler (a biker rides a motor...) can do as they please? I have no problem giving them a space in my lane, 1 abreast. HOWEVER - the law says they must follow ALL the laws of motor vehicles when using streets. Maybe if they invested less money in those pretty lycra jerseys and spent an afternoon reading the driver's handbook, they could then learn the colors of traffic lights. Davis California is a wonderful bike town, and there, they follow the laws. And folks - I'm old enough to remember the time when UoM prohibited undergrads from having motor vehicles. There was a very healthy market in new and used bikes, even with electric motors (and you thought that was a new idea). Guess what else: the de rigeur mode of dress for coeds was pleated skirts, and knee socks. Yes, they rode bicycles dress like that. They rode bicycles in Ann Arbor, on campus and in town, without bike lanes and while obeying the laws. Helmets? What, are you kidding me? But today's bike rider is smarter, right? Yeah, right....


Mon, Mar 15, 2010 : 8:53 a.m.

Why do we keep altering roadways to accommodate bike lanes? It seems as though the lanes are rarely used regardless of time of year. However, I did see some brave/stupid riders try to negotiate riding their bikes in the snow this winter. A danger to themselves and the auto driver. The bike lobby tends to run under the radar but has the ear of council. Hopefully Ann Arbor residents will come to their senses and demand that the rebuilt portion of Stadium be kept 2 lanes in each direction rather than lined to incorporate bike and center turn lanes. Just because there is a non-motorized plan does not mean that implementation of it is necessarily the best approach, most cost effective or greatest benefit to the community. The bike lobby tends to care only about their agenda and little about the rest us and the impact of the changes they push.


Mon, Mar 15, 2010 : 8:47 a.m.

Stop encouraging cyclists to ride on the sidewalk. This is particularly rampant near the University. I'm amazed that a strict "walk bikes" policy has not been instituted on State Street, for instance. Other college towns do it in high-traffic pedestrian areas, why can't we? Signed, Concerned/Annoyed Pedestrian


Mon, Mar 15, 2010 : 8:46 a.m.

What is with all this anger towards bicyclists and concern about them not following "the rules"? Why not concern yourself only? If you ride a bike and follow the rules, great. If you drive and are wary of bikes, super!


Mon, Mar 15, 2010 : 8:39 a.m.

Rich, we've heard these arguments for sharing the road over and over a again and yet countless cyclists are killed annually on A2 area roads. What needs to happen is the establishment of cyclist only paths that forbid cars entirely. Sharing the road is just not working out and I fear for my life every time I go riding which is why I have made the conscious choice to ride with a pack of cyclist; there is safety in numbers on the road. We will continue to obstruct traffic because that is the only safe means of traveling on area roads, forcing cars to yield and slow down!

Top Cat

Mon, Mar 15, 2010 : 8:26 a.m.

Law or not, bikers need to display some element of common sense and stay off of North Territorial Road.


Mon, Mar 15, 2010 : 8:23 a.m.

"I don't see anywhere after reading it twice that bicylist must follow all traffice laws including stop signs and stop lights. I have seen bike riders go through stop signs and stop lights over and over and over........" I agree with this. Also, cutting in front of a car without any warning...come on...I'll get the ticket if I hit you and yet you are the one who cut in front of me with no warning.


Mon, Mar 15, 2010 : 8:18 a.m.

I think auto drivers can be more careful, but I think most bicyclists need to learn the rules of the road. Every day I see a bicyclist on the road break a law. This puts the auto driver AND the bicyclist at risk. About 30 minutes ago, a bicyclist rode up next to my car on the right, passing 7 stopped cars. Dangerous because if I hadn't noticed and decided to turn right, I would have hit him. I believe a licensing system needs to be instituted for bicyclists who ride their bikes as a mode of transportation. If you ride on the road you should have to know the rules of the road AND prove that you do...just like an auto driver.


Mon, Mar 15, 2010 : 7:29 a.m.

Cyclists need to realize that laws and whatever rights they have because of them will not prevent vehicles of the four wheeled variety from smashing them up. One needs to ride with a defensive state of mind and try to predict the actions of those who out mass them. Don't forget that too many folks in cars/trucks think they can multitask while driving and the result could be deadly for those who are not surrounded by steel.

I'm Ron Burgandy

Mon, Mar 15, 2010 : 7:10 a.m.

Bicycles should be banned from the roadways when the speed limit is above 30 MPH. It's just too unsafe and they should be on the sidewalk, or take a different road. Getting dinged by a car on the sidewalk is one thing, but getting killed from a car going 45-50 MPH is another thing. If the sidewalk is safe enough for your kids, then it's safe enough for you. I own two bikes and never ride in the street on main roads like Washtenaw ave because it's unsafe and inconsiderate to 99% of the traffic on the road. I've past cyclists who were in the street while I was jogging on the sidewalk. You don't need to be in the street to be safe!!


Mon, Mar 15, 2010 : 6:47 a.m.

It's no wonder bicyclists get run over...if they want to share the road than they need to follow the laws of the road like autos do. Why do bikers feel they can weave in and out of traffic? Why do bikers feel they can creep up between two lanes of cars and blow through a red light when the traffic is clear? Get on the sidewalk where you belong!


Mon, Mar 15, 2010 : 6:47 a.m.

I don't see anywhere after reading it twice that bicylist must follow all traffice laws including stop signs and stop lights. I have seen bike riders go through stop signs and stop lights over and over and over........


Mon, Mar 15, 2010 : 6:41 a.m.

I have ridden my bike in several states and Michigan, where cars are 'King', is by far the worst. A few more important points 1. SHARE THE ROAD - Respect a cyclist like he/she is a member of your immediate family 2. Slow down, not speed up, when passing a cyclist. Speeding to your next appointment is not worth killing someone 3. Give enough room for error when passing a cyclist. All wheel types of transportation really can coexist.


Mon, Mar 15, 2010 : 6:20 a.m.

If bike riders want to use the roads downtown, they need to learn to NOT weave in and out of vehicular traffic. I cannot count the number of times I've seen this occur.


Mon, Mar 15, 2010 : 6:17 a.m.

This is a really excellent post. Thanks! There are two things that aren't mentioned here that are pretty important. The first is that most of the "paths" in Ann Arbor are nothing more than asphalt sidewalks, and except for kids, cyclists really shouldn't be biking on sidewalks. Basically, if the "path" is where you'd expect a sidewalk to be, it's a sidewalk, and it's two to four times more dangerous to use it than the road. Every driveway becomes and intersection on a sidewalk, and unlike the road, motorists never check before pulling across the sidewalk. Second, it's not just a good idea for motorists to give cyclists half a lane, it's the law. The passing law requires passing at a safe distance ("shall pass at a safe distance to the left of that vehicle"). A number of states are adding a clause for passing a cyclist, since so many motorists don't pass safely, that says "a safe distance, not less than three feet." Even more importantly, the Michigan Supreme Court ruled over 70 years ago that truck drivers have to give cyclists more than four feet when passing. Unfortunately, many AATA, UofM, and Ann Arbor schools bus drivers, and Detroit Edison drivers don't seem to get that message.