Bicycle Accidents in Bike Lanes and Shared Roadways: Rights and Protections

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Bicycling is an eco-friendly and healthy mode of transportation that continues to grow in popularity. With more people embracing cycling, the need for safe infrastructure and awareness of cyclists’ rights has become increasingly crucial. Whether you prefer bike lanes or share the road with vehicles, understanding your rights and protections as a cyclist when it comes to bicycle accidents can make a significant difference in your safety. In this blog post, we will explore the rights and protections for cyclists in both bike lanes and shared roadways to promote a safer cycling experience for everyone.

Bike Lanes: A Space Dedicated to Cyclists

Bike lanes are designated areas on the road reserved exclusively for cyclists. These lanes are often marked with clear signage and painted lines, providing a safe space for cyclists to ride without sharing the road with motor vehicles. As one law firm explains, in bike lanes, cyclists have the right-of-way, and drivers must not enter or obstruct these lanes, except when making turns or crossing intersections.

As a cyclist in a bike lane, it’s essential to stay alert to potential hazards like opening car doors or debris that might accumulate in the lane. While bike lanes offer additional protection, it’s still crucial to exercise caution and follow traffic rules.

Shared Roadways: Understanding Your Rights

In areas without bike lanes, cyclists must share the road with motor vehicles. This can be intimidating, but cyclists have rights and protections under the law to ensure their safety.

  • Right to Use the Road: Cyclists have the same right to use the road as drivers. Even without a designated bike lane, cyclists are legally allowed to occupy a full lane, especially if the road is too narrow for both a bike and a vehicle to safely share side-by-side.
  • Riding in a Predictable Manner: Cyclists should ride predictably and follow traffic laws like stopping at stop signs and traffic signals. By doing so, they can enhance their visibility and help drivers anticipate their movements.
  • Passing Distance: Many states, including Michigan, have laws that require motorists to provide a minimum passing distance when overtaking a cyclist. This distance typically ranges from three to five feet, ensuring a safe buffer zone between the bike and the vehicle.

Contributory Negligence and Comparative Fault

In bicycle accidents, determining fault can be complex. Michigan, like many states, follows a comparative fault system, which means that if both the cyclist and the driver were partially at fault for the accident, each party may be assigned a percentage of fault.

In some cases, contributory negligence could affect the amount of compensation a cyclist receives after an accident. Cyclists are encouraged to wear helmets, use lights and reflectors when riding in low-light conditions, and obey traffic laws to minimize the risk of being found partially at fault.


Cycling is an enjoyable and eco-friendly means of transportation, but it comes with its share of risks, especially when sharing the road with motor vehicles. Understanding your rights and protections as a cyclist in both bike lanes and shared roadways is important, especially if you’ve been involved in an accident. Remember, always consult with a personal injury attorney who specializes in bicycle accident claims.