Sharing Public Roads with Bicyclists

At 11 PM on March 6th, 1896, Charles B. King drove the first gasoline-powered automobile in Detroit — and perhaps the first in Michigan.

He shared the road with a bicyclist.

And it’s been that way ever since.  Cars and bikes have the same access to all of Michigan roads except for the Interstates.

Despite what some motorists may think, they are not offered any priority under the law.  They may be annoyed with having to share the road.  They may have to endure slight delays on occasion.  They may think cyclists should ride on sidewalks, which is much less safe.  [In fact in some cities like Royal Oak, it’s against local ordinance for adults to ride a bicycle on the sidewalk.]

But on the grand list of inconveniences motorists encounter on our roads, items like traffic slowdowns, construction delays, train crossings, school buses, and inclement weather rank near the top — not cyclists.

Even so, the bottom line is our public roads need to be shared.  That’s how it’s always been and that’s the law.

So who was the bicyclist that King first shared the road with?  It was a lanky 32-year old mechanical engineer named Henry Ford, who would drive his own first car three months later.

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