If you’ve been on the roads in Grand Rapids,

you’ve probably noticed some changes in the past few years. New bike lanes have been added to many streets in an effort to improve safety for bicyclists and predictability of all road users.

The introduction of more than 70 miles of new bike lanes has led to a lot of discussion and often confusion about how motorists and bicyclists should interact with each other.

Below are a few rules to help you Drive Change in Grand Rapids and know more about your responsibilities on the road, whether you are a motorist or a bicyclist. You can also see what motorists are doing to help.


Bicyclists must be visible.

If drivers can see you, they aren’t likely to hit you.


All nighttime rides should include a front light and rear end reflector that are visible for at least 500 feet from the front and 100–600 feet from behind. A rear light and light-colored clothing or reflective clothing will also help you be seen and be safe.


Ride in a straight line and do not weave in and out between parked cars. Make your presence known by eye contact, signaling and lane positioning.


Bicyclists must obey all
traffic signals and signs.

Just as any other driver on the road, bicyclists must stop at stop signs and red lights. This makes them more predictable to drivers, and safer on the road.


Bicyclists must signal turns.

Signal your intentions clearly and in plenty of time, including:

  • Right turns by extending your right arm or upturned left arm.
  • Left turns by extending your left arm straight out to the left.
  • Stop or signal that you’re slowing by extending your left arm straight down with your palm facing rearward.


Learn more about proper signaling with this video. 


Bicyclists should ride with traffic.

Ride with the direction of traffic (on the right side of the road). Never ride against traffic (on the left side of the road).


Riding side-by-side is allowed.

Riding more than two people side-by-side is not allowed. Remember, sharing the road is a two-way street. Riding two abreast is legal in Michigan. Bicyclists, however, can receive citations for riding more than two abreast. Be courteous and “single up” when other road users are present and it is safe to do so.


Bicyclists are safer when they ride
on the road.

Bicyclists are allowed – and encouraged – to ride on road in either the bike lane (when available) or in the lane like a vehicle. Riding in the road increases the visibility of bicyclists, leading to fewer crashes. Additionally, riding a bicycle on the sidewalk is prohibited in certain areas, including downtown Grand Rapids.


What is a sharrow?

A shared lane marking, or “sharrow,” is a symbol painted on the pavement to indicate proper lane position for bicyclists to make them more visible to drivers as well as assist bicyclists in avoiding hazards such as car doors swinging open.


Sharrows also remind motorists that they might encounter bicyclists in the lane where the symbol is located, and they provide wayfinding guidance to bicyclists on designated routes.


How should bicyclists navigate through an intersection with a bike lane?

When approaching an intersection, all road users should pay attention.


  •  If the intersection has a right-hand turn lane, bicyclists going straight through the intersection should follow the bike lane as it shifts from the right side of the road to the left side of the right-turn lane. Although motorists who are turning right are required to yield to a bicyclist before crossing the bike lane, be certain that the motorist is aware of your presence.


  •  At some intersections, the bike lane is eliminated to provide room for added vehicle lanes. At these locations, the bicyclist should merge into the appropriate vehicle lane when it is safe to do so. It is dangerous for bicyclists to pass cars on the right because that is the motorist’s blind spot.


  • If the intersection has a bike lane and no added right-turn lanes, the bicyclist may proceed to the intersection, but should be cautious when passing stopped or slow-moving cars; the motorist may decide to turn right unexpectedly at a driveway or at the intersection.


Learn more about bike lanes with this video and intersections with this video.


Whether you’re in a car or on a bicycle, we are all drivers on our roads.
Together, we can work to improve our road relationships and drive change in Grand Rapids.


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