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Watch for Bicycles as the Temperature Rises

After the harshest winter Michigan has seen since 1880, the temperature has finally started to rise. With the melting snow comes an increase in pedestrian and bicycle traffic as many cooped up Michiganders seek to enjoy the warmer weather. But increased foot traffic can mean higher danger for drivers, so take a second look when you are on the roads this season.

69,000 pedestrians and 48,000 bicyclists were injured in 2011. But of those figures, only 12% of pedestrian injuries were caused by motor vehicles. When the person was on a bike, that number jumped to 29%. In 2012 that number jumped to nearly a third. Worse, 4,432 pedestrians and 677 bicyclists were killed in crashes with motor vehicles.

The numbers speak for themselves. As a licensed driver you bear the obligation to do everything in your power to avoid collisions with other traffic – whether in a car, on foot, or riding a bike. In Michigan, vehicles must yield the right-of-way to pedestrians and bicyclists at all intersections. So if you, as a driver, hit a pedestrian or a bicyclist, you could be charged with a civil infraction. If the person is seriously injured, the legal consequences could be far worse.

The Michigan Secretary of State’s Office warns drivers:

  • Look out for and always yield the right-of-way to people walking, jogging, biking, etc.;
  • Pull out slowly from driveways and parking areas while watching for vulnerable road users, including children and others on the sidewalk or nearby pathways;
  • Stop fully before turning at driveways and intersections to make sure you do not cut off pedestrians or approaching bicyclists with right of way;
  • Never turn right immediately after passing a cyclist – wait until the cyclist has completed the trip through the intersection;
  • Do not pass vehicles stopped at crosswalks, as they may be allowing a pedestrian to cross the street;
  • Yield to anyone crossing the street when turning left on a green light;
  • Watch for surprising changes in direction, especially by children or cyclists avoiding road hazards.
  • When parallel parked, check for approaching cyclists before opening your door;
  • Leave sufficient space when passing vulnerable road users and take every possible precaution to avoid collision.

As the temperature rises, so does the chance that you will encounter bicycle and foot traffic in your daily commute. To avoid serious injury and legal trouble, make sure to give them the respect and space they need. If you have been in a pedestrian or bicycle accident involving a motor vehicle, contact the No-Fault Insurance experts at Christensen Law to find out about your rights.