Posts Tagged ‘Bike laws’

Detroit bicycling in 1898: No other city compares

Monday, March 4th, 2013

1898 Detroit Official GuideWe recently purchased the Detroit Official Guide from 1898.

The city was growing then and it appears this guide was intended for newcomers. Most of the pages list “reliable merchants”, including sixteen bike shops around the downtown area, nine of them on Woodward Avenue.

Beyond the retailersr, bicycling has a prominent place in the guide. The appendix lists city officials first then bicycling information.

And it speaks very highly of Detroit’s cycling opportunities. Detroit and Brooklyn were America’s best cycling cities in 1898? We’d like to think so, but it could just be visitor’s guide boosterism.

From the Guide:

With perhaps the exception of Brooklyn, noted for its cycle paths, no other city in the country can compare with Detroit in the facilities which it offers for pleasant bicycle runs. The suburban runs are especially fine. Elsewhere mention has been made of the streets and avenues of the city, and they need only be referred to here in passing. Miles of excellent macadam extend in all directions leading to scenes of beauty and interest. The course around Belle Isle is famous but that is only one. In reaching the Island you ride past some of the finest homes in the country beneath a canopy of foliage of trees planted more that a century ago, on a perfect asphalt pavement. To write of the attractions of the various cycle paths would be to write a long story. Suffice it to merely point them out:

Going out Fort St. West, rides may visit Ecorse, 9 miles; Wyandotte, 12 miles, Trenton, 17 miles; Flat Rock, 25 miles.

Michigan Ave. — Dearborn, 10 miles; Inkster, 15 miles; Wayne, 18 miles; Canton, 23 miles; Denton’s, 26 miles; Ypsilanti, 30 miles; Ann Arbor, 38 miles.

Jefferson Ave. — Grosse Pointe, 10 miles; McSweeney’s Club, 24 miles.

Woodward Ave. — Highland Park, 5 miles; Whitewood, 7 miles; Royal Oak, 12 miles; Birmingham, 18 miles; Bloomfield Center, 21 miles; Pontiac, 28 miles; Drayton Plains, 31 miles; Waterford, 33 miles; Clarkston, 35 miles; Orchard Lake, 32 miles. The road out Woodward Avenue is always good.

Grand River Ave. — Greenfield, 8 miles; Farmington, 10 miles.

And the bicycling ordinances? There weren’t many. Remember there were no stop signs, traffic lights, one way streets, or expressways. To the 1898 cyclist, the condition of the road surface was the most important information needed for a productive ride.

Of course the ordinances were important as well — and they were quite simple. We especially like the ordinance permitting businesses to have bicycle racks.

From the Official Guide:

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Another helmet law to bite the dust?

Monday, January 14th, 2013

Kensington Metropark

We wrote about this in 2009: Milford Township has an ordinance requiring bicyclists to wear a helmet on the paved trails at the Kensingon Metropark.

And to be more specific, bicyclists must only wear a helmet when the paved trail is 10 feet wide.

Biking on the roads at Kensington or unpaved trails? No bicycle helmet is required.

This ordinance came about in 1996 after an inline skater had a fatal crash going down a long downhill section of trail. That segment of trail was changed and made less steep to reduce speeds, but the ordinance remained.

It may not remain for much longer according to this Observer & Eccentric article.

Huron-Clinton Metroparks has asked the township to drop the regulation, in effect since 1997, because of “inconsistencies” between the Kensington trail and adjoining trails that don’t have the rule — as well as enforcement issues, said Denise Semion, metroparks chief of communications.

“When the trail was built, it wasn’t connected to all the other trails (like it is today). It was a different time back then. Now we got people enjoying a bike ride, not required to have a helmet anywhere else, and they ride into Kensington and suddenly they have to have a helmet. It’s inconsistent for cyclists, it’s difficult to enforce. And we haven’t really been enforcing it that much (anyway),” she said, likening it to having a seat belt law in some communities, but not others.

One other issue with this ordinance is people in wheelchairs have to wear bicycle helmets.

Who knows the rules of the road?

Sunday, June 5th, 2011

Motorists don’t understand the laws

The Oakland Press ran an article on Keith Riege, owner of the Paint Creek Bicycles in Lake Orion. The Oakland Press’ focus on bicycle safety certainly isn’t going to help bike sales. The words “death”, “killed”, and “hit” appear a total of 14 times.

“People drive by, yell, swing their car door open, throw bottles or come up right behind you, put their car in neutral and gun their engine to scare you,” said Riege. “People don’t think bikes should be in the road at all.”

Riege said he rides on the side of the road because all of his near-death experiences have occurred on sidewalks.

“I was almost killed last summer. I got to the entrance of the senior center, and I went to go across the sidewalk. A car turned right in. How could they not see me? They were traveling the same direction I was,” he said. “My life flashed before my eyes, and the vehicle just kept going.”

Riege said, when he talks to anybody who rides a bike on a regular basis, “most everyone has been hit.”

Bill Gilboe, a mechanic at Paint Creek Bicycles, said he has been hit about seven times while riding his bicycle.

This article inaccurately paints cycling as a great way to get hit, if not killed.

Bicyclists don’t follow the laws

The Detroit News printed a half-baked letter to the editor on bicycles.

I agree with the bumper stickers I saw last year, depicting cars and bicycles that said: “Same road, same rules.”

Yes, they are the same rules. Under Michigan law, use of a vehicle negates the “pedestrian” right of way. In other words, if you choose to ride a bike in the road, you have to obey the rules of the road. Such rules are seldom followed by anyone other than the “professional” bike riders (the ones with reflectors, helmets and even electronic signals), and I’ve never seen the laws enforced by police.

Huh? Bicycles are not vehicles in Michigan. Bicycles are not pedestrians.  And bicyclists “seldom” follow the rules other than professionals with electronic signals? Really!

And please, can we stop using those incorrect “same roads” bumper stickers from the out-dated vehicular cycling movement?

From turn signaling to vulnerable user legislation, we want different rules. Rules that make bicycling more efficient and safe. We want to see the Idaho rolling stop law in Michigan as well, which Mia Birk recently wrote about. It’s time for new stickers.

American’s don’t know the rules of the road

According to a CNN Money report:

More than one in five Americans — some 36.9 million — are not fit to drive and would fail a driving test if asked to take one today, according to a new survey of the nation’s drivers.

According to GMAC Insurance, which conducted the survey, the results mean that a great number of people on the road still lack basic driving knowledge, an ignorance that leads to dangerous driving habits.

For example, a full 85% of those surveyed could not identify the correct action to take when approaching a steady yellow traffic light.

Michigan ranked 20th among states with an average of 78.3% correct answers, just a slight bit higher than the 77.9% national average.

If this survey is accurate, why are twenty-some percent of Michigan drivers still on the road? Is GMAC Insurance denying coverage to this failing group?

Or is real life more like the “Mayhem” commercials from Allstate Insurance where you can drive distracted, make poor decisions, and if you crash, the other policy holders have you covered.

Google knows the rules of the road

Google is continuing their research on self-driving cars. They are lobbying for legislation in Nevada to make self-driving cars legal.

While the concept sounds scary at first, imagine cars that didn’t speed or run you off the road? With Google’s vow to do no evil, this might not be a bad idea.

Sidewalks, bicycles, and… unicycles

Friday, April 15th, 2011

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.

Detroit bike shorts: Suburban updates

Thursday, March 3rd, 2011

Novi passes non-motorized plan

Congratulations to the city of Novi!

On a 7-0 vote, the Novi City Council adopted the proposed non-motorized master plan which we’d mentioned earlier. This is the first non-motorized plan passed in Oakland County. While Troy developed one earlier, the plan was never adopted by their city council. Royal Oak’s plan is still under development.

Novi  city counilmember Andrew Mutch adds, “The plan provides the framework to guide the continued development of the city’s non-motorized transportation system and includes detailed recommendations for changes to our design and construction standards and ordinances for implementing the recommendations. It also includes concepts plans and cost estimates to implement various aspects of the plan.

The master plan is available on-line along with the presentation made by the consultant before city council.

This plan was developed by the Greenway Collaborative, Wade-Trim and the Active Transportation Alliance.

Berkley adding bike racks

The city of Berkley is installing six new bike racks as part of a SMART grant.

“It’s something we’re seeing more of, and we want to see even more of,” says Tom Colwell, facility manager and parks and recreation director for the city of Berkley.

“Ultimately we’re going to put some of the racks closer to bus shelters and around town,” Colwell says. “What we want to promote is people not driving their own cars everywhere, but getting around by biking. We want to promote a healthier lifestyle.”

The city is also looking at how it could make its roads safer for bicyclists. They also passed a Complete Streets resolution recently.

West Bloomfield extending trail

The Spinal Column has an update on plans to extend the West Bloomfield trail westward to the township border near Haggerty Road.

“We will hire a design coordinator that will work with the commission on developing a design plan and preparing construction drawings,” said Parks and Recreation Commission Director Dan Navarre. “The coordinator will then monitor the construction process so it’s done according to plan.”

When it is completed, the West Bloomfield Trail will stretch out to 6.5 miles.

“We should have the design and the bids done in the fall and we may begin building in the spring of 2012 and hopefully have it finished in June 2012,” Navarre said.

Clawson examines ordinances

In 2009 we noted some of the more ridiculous rules of the road that some local municipalities have. One was Clawson’s ordinance which made it illegal to take your hands off the handlebars while riding.

This article in the Royal Oak Review talks about Clawson’s recent efforts to remove these types of ordinances.

“We are looking into all of our outdated ordinances,” Pollock said. “These are laws that are not going to be enforced.”

The city, like many others in the area, has many old and odd ordinances on the books. They range from the funny — for example, it’s unlawful to ride a bicycle without both hands on the handlebars — to the possibly illegal — it’s against the law in Clawson for a liquor license owner to allow his business to be frequented or become a gathering place for homosexuals.