Motorist ground rules for healthy road relationships.

A healthy passion for safety is the key to a healthy road relationship. Don't let emotions cloud your judgment ... or your view of nearby bicyclists. Remember, it's not about you ... it's about a safe, healthy relationship with those around you.

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5ft Sign
Motorists must leave 5 feet when passing a bicyclist.

The City of Grand Rapids requires motorists passing a bicyclist to maintain at least a 5-foot separation between the vehicle’s right side, including mirrors or other projections, and the bicyclist. 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.

Learn more with this video.

Car Door Icon
Do not open vehicle doors in the path of a bicyclist.

Opening your door in the path of an approaching bicyclist and causing a crash is called “dooring,” and it is extremely dangerous to bicyclists. When you are parked on city streets, look for approaching bicyclists traveling in the lane next to your vehicle before you open your door.

• To help you remember to look first, learn the “Dutch Reach.” While seated in the driver’s seat, use your right hand to open your car door. That way, you’re automatically facing in the right direction to see if anyone is approaching.

Learn more with this video.

Bikes Sign
Motorists watch out for bicyclists, especially when making a right-hand turn.

Bicycle-related crashes frequently happen when vehicles are turning at intersections or driveways and do not notice a smaller, less visible bicyclist – especially when bicyclists are coming from behind their vehicle.

When turning and at intersections:

• Watch for bicyclists coming from behind your vehicle at intersections. The smaller size of bicycles can make it difficult to judge their distance and speed.

• At intersections, treat bicycles the same as any other vehicle. If a bicyclist is riding ahead of you in the road and stops to complete a left turn, you must yield to the bicyclist just as you would for another car.

• Before turning right at an intersection or out of a driveway, check for bicyclists coming up from behind your vehicle on the right-hand side. As appropriate, yield and allow them to pass before turning. Do not pass bicyclists and turn right in front of them unless it is safe to do so.

• Do not use a bicycle lane as a passing or turning lane.

Learn more with this video.

No Parking Sign
Motorists do not park or drive in the bike lane.

It is illegal to park or drive in a bicycle lane. This means that drivers are required to make turns from the travel lane and not the bicycle lane. A motorist may cross a bicycle lane only when turning.

Bikes Sign
Bicyclists belong on the road.

Bicyclists are encouraged to ride on the road with the flow of traffic in either the bike lane or traffic lane except where prohibited by law (like expressways, for example). Riding on the road increases the visibility of bicyclists, leading to fewer crashes. In certain areas, including downtown Grand Rapids, riding a bicycle on the sidewalk is prohibited.

Click here to download a map of the sidewalk restriction zone for bicyclists.

Sharrow Icon
What is a sharrow?

Sharrows are just one of the markings you may encounter on our city’s streets. A sharrow is a shared lane marker that indicates proper lane positioning for bicyclists, so they can be seen and avoid riding in the “door zone.” When you encounter these markings on the street, you should be aware that bicycles may be sharing the traffic lane.

Right Turn Sign
How should motorists 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, motorists turning right should wait to move into the right-hand-turn lane until the bike lane becomes a dashed line. Carefully check the bike lane for bicyclists before merging into the right-hand-turn lane. Motorists who are turning right are required to yield to a bicyclist before crossing the bike lane.

• At some intersections, the bike lane is eliminated to provide room for added vehicle lanes. At these locations, be aware that a bicyclist could be looking to merge into the appropriate vehicle lane.

• If the intersection has a bike lane and no added right-turn lanes, be aware that bicyclists may be passing on the right. Allow the bicyclist to continue straight before completing your turn.

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