The answer in Detroit is there are none. It’s an issue that needs to be addressed.
Unfortunately that’s probably true in many cities, villages, and townships (CVTs) across Michigan that are “maintaining” their own traffic law language. We quoted “maintaining” because most CVTs aren’t. While state laws and national model traffic laws for bicycles have been updated, in many, if not most cases local ordinances have not.
Ideally, all CVTs, including Detroit would eliminate their local traffic laws and simply reference the Motor Vehicle Code (state law) and the Uniform Traffic Code (which is a maintained by the Michigan State Police.) By doing this, everyone would be working off the same set of traffic laws and it would be easier this one copy up to date.
But getting back to bike lanes, what does the Uniform Traffic Code say about them?
PART 4. TRAFFIC-CONTROL DEVICES
R 28.1320 Rule 320. Bicycle paths or bicycle lanes; establishment; traffic-control devices.
(1) When the traffic engineer, after a traffic survey and engineering study, determines there is a need, he or she may establish a part of a street or highway under his or her jurisdiction as a bicycle path or lane.
(2) The bicycle path or lane shall be identified by official traffic-control devices that conform to the Michigan manual of uniform traffic-control devices.
R 28.1322 Rule 322. Bicycle lanes; vehicles prohibited; parking permitted under certain conditions; violation as misdemeanor.
(1) A person shall not operate a vehicle on or across a bicycle lane, except to enter or leave adjacent property.
(2) A person shall not park a vehicle on a bicycle lane, except where parking is permitted by official signs.
(3) A person who violates this rule is guilty of a misdemeanor.
One item we don’t like in the above language is the requirement that a traffic engineer determine “a need” for bicycle lane. We would like to see the survey, study and need requirement stricken. It’s an unnecessary cost burden and “need” can be quite vague.
It’s one thing to do a traffic study and determine the need for vehicle travel lanes in order to accommodate traffic flow. One can measure traffic and plug those numbers into a computer model.
It’s quite another to do a traffic study which determines how unsafe a road is for bicyclists — both perceived and real — without a dedicated bike lane.