Sidewalks, bicycles, and… unicycles

The Colbert Report has clever coverage of the unicycle issue in New York City (below).

Here in Michigan, state law allows bicyclists to ride on the sidewalk though we don’t recommend it for most cyclists, most of the time.

However, Michigan law also allows cities to prohibit them if they chose to. This has led to a lack of consistency. For example, it’s legal to ride on most Detroit sidewalks but not on any Royal Oak sidewalks.

Sometimes cities prohibit bicyclists only on sidewalks within their central business district or other specific areas.  As seen in the photo, the city of Detroit has this “Cycling” prohibition on Auditorium Drive’s sidewalk, but only for those heading uphill towards Jefferson. We did not see a similar sign for those cycling down the not-so-steep grade (and towards the fire hydrant located in the middle of the sidewalk.)

Also, the city of Detroit bans bicycles (and unicycles!) from Hart Plaza:

Sec. 40-4-7. – Wheeled vehicles prohibited.

No wheelbarrow, handcart, automobile, motorcycle, bicycle, motordriven cycle, go-cart, unicycle, moped, solex cycle or other wheeled vehicles are permitted in Hart Plaza except as approved by the civic center department or recreation department for a scheduled event. This section shall not apply to a handicapped person in a wheelchair nor to emergency or service vehicles.

Yes! Even solex cycles are banned!

Prohibitions must be posted

Michigan state law does require communities to post signs indicating any bans on sidewalk riding. Without the signs, the law is not enforceable.

So what about unicycles in Michigan? Like most other states, they are not considered bicycles under state law. (Note that some cities have their own definitions of bicycle.)

257.4 “Bicycle” defined.“Bicycle” means a device propelled by human power upon which a person may ride, having either 2 or 3 wheels in a tandem or tricycle arrangement, all of which are over 14 inches in diameter.

So it’s a gray area for unicycles with the exception of Hart Plaza. If you are the “Enemy from within”, use your best judgement.

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One Response to “Sidewalks, bicycles, and… unicycles”

  1. Michigan Really Needs a Clue | Concrete Says:

    [...] this is much better.  The second result from the Google search had a blog post was about inconsistencies with bicycling laws in Michigan and its cities.  This is interesting.  [...]

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