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 bicyclists are doing to help.
Vehicles passing a bicyclist must give the bicyclist at least a 5-foot separation between the vehicle’s right side, including all mirrors or other projections, and the bicyclist’s left side. Even if you have to slow down and wait for enough room to pass the bicyclist, you are required to leave 5 feet of space.
Watch for approaching bicyclists before you open your door.
When turning and at intersections:
Except when making a right-hand turn, and after checking to make sure you are clear of bicycles, driving in the bike lane is not permitted. Parking in the bike lane is never allowed.
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.
Learn more about why riding on the sidewalk can be less safe than the road with this video.
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.
When approaching an intersection, all road users should pay attention.