Thursday, September 23, 2010

Biking Is Not a Crime

On my ride to work today a woman honked at me (which is dangerous and illegal) so she could get my attention and yell out her passenger window that there was a sidewalk.  I was well aware of the sidewalk, but I think she was trying to tell me that I was supposed to ride my bike on it.  I yelled back at her that I had a right to the rode, but I doubt she heard me.

I have two goals for this post.
1) I want to inform people about bicycling laws in Michigan.  Read this.  There that's done.

2) In my search for Michigan bicycling laws, and my desire to procrastinate, I stumbled across an interesting fact.  According to the League of American Bicyclists, Michigan is the 16th most bike friendly state (here).  I have to admit to being a bit surprised, pleasantly.  Though the grades aren't great, we beat out 34 other states.  Michigan is in the top third of something, and it isn't related to crime urban decay, or unemployment.  Given our history as the vehicle state and the abuse our state gets in the media, that was nice to see.  I wasn't surprised to see that Flint was not on the list of bike friendly communities (pdf).  Sure Flint doesn't have many bike lanes, many bike racks, businesses catering to bicyclists, but since I've been regularly commuting via bike, today's incident is only the second time someone has been inconsiderate.  Actually, I've been amazingly impressed with how courteous drivers typically are when I ride.  I'm not sure if they think they'll catch bike cooties or if drivers are intentionally courteous, but drivers typically move as far from me as possible and regularly wait to pass me until it is safe.  And I'm appreciative of that.  I particularly appreciate it because I have children, so if I get hurt, it hurts more than me. I definitely bike for me, but I also think of the message it sends my children and the health benefits as I age and try to keep up with perpetual motion machines.

Flint has a great and growing trail along the Flint River, it has a Critical Mass ride on the last Friday of every month, and it has a road race.  Heck, they even added bike lanes to Saginaw Street.  Maybe we're on our way to being added to the list of bike friendly communities.  

Maybe biking and courteous drivers is something the mainstream media can pick up on about Flint for a change.  Hey, Bobby Crim, add a bike race to your festival of races.  Hey, Flint Journal, why don't you write a story about bike commuters in Flint?  Make it a feature in the Sunday magazine.  You can reach me here.  I'll be waiting.


  1. I didn't read all the bike laws, but they were interesting nonetheless. I don't usually think about bike laws too much since I ride my bike in such a low-traffic area. I do wear a helmet, though, so that's a start.

  2. Actually I bike around my city sometimes so I'm kind of a hypocrite here, but still....getting stuck behind bikers are the worst.

  3. @ Robert: Yea, if it makes you feel any better, bikers don't like cars stuck behind them. More bike lanes would be nice, wouldn't they? Fewer cars and more room for everyone.

  4. I have to admit that I am just like that woman who honked at you. There was a gentleman riding his bike in Clio (downtown) and I was SO irritated because there was a sidewalk for him to ride his bike on. In Clio, there are no bike lanes on the road so he was riding in the middle of one of the lanes. The reason I was getting so upset was because he was holding up traffic and nearly caused an accident. When I got to my sister's house, I told her about it and to my surprise, she told me it is illegal to ride your bike on the sidewalk in town. I am SO glad I didn't honk and/or yell at that man because he was simply following the laws.

  5. I remember a lot of the rules from when I was younger. LOL we had to take a course like drivers do before we could ride our bikes. We actually had a little license that we had to carry to show we had the taken the course much like the car drivers of today have to do. Anyway I am sure they have done away with it.
    Why are you waiting for them to contact you for a story????? Why can you not go ahead and write the story and submit it to them???? Why can you not take the proverbial "Bull By The Horns?" and just do something (like write an article )you feel strongly about and that is bicycle rules of the road?

  6. @ L. Nelson: That would frustrate me, too. I try to ride as far to the right as possible, except when I'm about to make a left turn or need to be out of the right turn lane. It sounds like the rider wasn't being very considerate. He gives riders a bad name. Also, in Michigan it is legal to ride on the sidewalk, but communities can make it illegal. So Clio may say it's legal and Mt. Morris might not. For me, it's always safest to be in the street.

    @ Jan1953: Yea, I had a biking class when I was a kid. I'm not sure they do them much any more. As for contacting the Journal, it was more of a rhetorical flourish. Who knows, though. Maybe I'll write something someday.