Rules of the Road: True or False?

How well do you know the “rules of the road?”

True or False:

  1. It is illegal to follow the designated bike route from Birmingham to Royal Oak in the early morning and late afternoon.
  2. Cyclists must ride on Woodward when leaving the American Cycle and Fitness/Trek store in Royal Oak.
  3. You must have a front and rear light when riding your bicycle in Detroit during the day.
  4. Anyone who buys a bicycle in Birmingham, must tell the police or they can impound it.
  5. When braking, cyclists must remove their hand from their left brake lever first.
  6. Some folding bicycles and recumbents do not have rights to ride on the roads in Oak Park.
  7. Clawson ordinances prevent bicyclists from signaling their turns.
  8. All cyclists on the Wednesday Wolverine ride must get their bicycles licensed by the city of Birmingham first.
  9. Oak Park police can impound your bicycle if you are caught drinking water from your bottle while biking.

Answers below the fold.

They’re all true.

  1. Royal Oak has a Do Not Enter sign with the hours 7 AM to 9AM and 3 PM to 6 PM at Cooper and 14 Mile Road.
  2. No turn signs prohibit turns from the alley to the local roads, Benjamin and Webster. It is illegal to ride on sidewalks in Royal Oak. Bicyclists have no other option but to ride on oft-busy Woodward Avenue.
  3. You also need a bell or horn at all times.
  4. You also must contact the police if you sell a bike in Birmingham.
  5. All Michigan cyclists are required to signal with their left hand before braking or slowing down. On most adult bikes, the left hand brake is the most effective means of braking.
  6. Oak Park does not recognize bicycles with wheels that are 20 inches or less.
  7. Clawson requires that cyclists never take their hands off the handlebar when biking.
  8. Everyone riding a bicycle in Birmingham must have it licensed first. The same is true for Oak Park and Clawson.
  9. Oak Park only allows bicyclists to remove their hands from the handlebars when signaling turns.

Except for #5, all of these requirements are due to city ordinances or traffic controls. Item 5 is a state law.

And although we don’t promote biking on sidewalks, Clawson does have an ordinance that cyclists cannot pass anyone on a sidewalk faster than 4 MPH.


15 Responses to “Rules of the Road: True or False?”

  1. Hannah Says:

    Man, I would love to see somebody bike 4 mph without falling over!

  2. Todd Scott Says:

    I wonder where they came up with 4 MPH? My only guess is that’s roughly the speed of a brisk hike.

  3. Heather Hansma Says:

    How can a city require you to license a bicycle if you don’t live there? I work in B-ham right on the border of RO (where my address is).

    I’d be worried about all these laws and how I’m breaking them by being a good cyclist, but I highly doubt even the police officers know these laws… or if they do they don’t care.

  4. Todd Scott Says:

    State law allows local authorities to require bicycle licenses (MCL 257.606). It doesn’t specify a residency requirement. State law should be changed to remove local authorities from regulating bicycles or requiring bicycle licenses. That would rid of this quirky city-specific rules.

  5. Todd Scott Says:

    By my count there are 53 local authorities in Oakland County that could potentially require bicycle licenses for anyone riding on roads which they have jurisdiction over.

  6. Jeremiah Staes Says:

    Well, as usual in Michigan, state laws contradict local laws. Clawson’s law is probably unenforceable, as Michigan law (usually supersedes local law) says you must signal, but Clawson doesn’t allow you to comply with state law, so one could get that law thrown out methinks if it was ever challenged.

    Gotta love Michigan and it’s layers of contradiction due to strong home rule – a clause in the state constitution that’s cost us billions in redundant laws and services.

    I also believe that requiring licensing in some municipalities you ride in is horrid. There should be a Michigan bike license, actually, having a required one is BS too and serves no purpose – but obviously, this isn’t about bikes, it’s about a money grab for the local cities.

  7. Todd Scott Says:

    I agree that Clawson as well as perhaps all the others are unenforceable.

    Home rule combined with a lack of leadership/vision from the counties and SEMCOG is a primary reason why we have a lack of bike-friendly communities.

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  9. jeff dawkins Says:

    regarding number 2 … riding a bicycle on woodward is illegal . something having to do with it being a highway … M1 .
    on that note . when the bicyclist was killed recently on woodward … I believe between 11 mile and 12 (i also believe during the night) . while the story is sad . it is a shame that no news agency used the story to remind people that riding on woodward is both not smart and illegal .

  10. Todd Scott Says:

    The reason the media didn’t report biking on Woodward as illegal is because it’s not true.

    Bicycling on Woodward has been legal for the entire 130 years that bicycles been in Detroit and it’s still legal today. Bicycling is prohibited on limited-access highways in Michigan, which Woodward is not.

    In fact a study is underway now to make it easier to bike on Woodward.

    As for Ms. Darcy, the cyclist killed on Woodward, she was riding very early in the morning when there are almost no cars on Woodward. In fact the number of cars per lane on Woodward at that time is probably less than the cars on an average neighborhood street.

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  12. Len Sackett Says:

    How can biking on Woodward be legal?? Michigan law limits bikes to roads that have posted speeds of 35mph or less (as well as the limited access thing).

  13. Todd Scott Says:

    There are no Michigan laws restricting bicycles to roads posted at 35 MPH or any other speed limit for that matter. Woodward is not a limited-access road. Limited-access roads are typically Interstate or State freeways. They have signs posted at the entrances which limit their use which include a prohibition of bicycles.

  14. Mark Says:

    Number 2 is completely false, it is not illegal to ride bikes on all Royal Oak city sidewalks. Michigan law states it must be clearly signed to be so. The only place I know this to be true is in the downtown area. If Royal Oak passed an ordinance like this, they need to post signs on every street to be able to enforce their law. Just be sure that you use a bell or your voice and yield to all pedestians on sidewalks.

  15. Todd Scott Says:

    It was true over 12 years ago when this post was made. Laws change.

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