Five Feet 600x600Dearborn’s growing community of bicyclists is celebrating an ordinance change that requires drivers to give bikes at least five feet of space when passing on the road.

“Motor vehicle operators need to realize that by law, bicycles do indeed belong on the street. While we ride as far right as practicable as the Michigan Motor Vehicle Code states, we do have a right to use a full lane, and will do so when it puts us in a more visible and predictable position,” said Tracy Besek, an organizer of Healthy Dearborn’s weekly Walk n’ Rolls and co-founder of Bike Dearborn.

“It is not acceptable for a fast-moving car to squeeze close by us at a high rate of speed or to pass us on the right between us and the curb or parked cars,” Besek added.

The new ordinance had its final reading by the City Council on Sept. 26 and will take effect in October.

The new ordinance says that when a driver is approaching a bicyclist moving in the same direction, the driver shall “exercise due care and may only overtake or pass a bicyclist when there is a safe distance.”

The ordinance specifies drivers must leave at least five feet between any part of the vehicle and the bicyclist.  Drivers must always pass on the bicycle’s left side.

Violating the ordinance is a civil infraction.

Dearborn is encouraging cycling with initiatives such as adding bike lanes and launching a bike share program. Mayor John B. O’Reilly, Jr. and the City Council have promoted more biking activity in Dearborn. Mayor O’Reilly started the Healthy Dearborn Family Bike Ride in October 2015, and the annual event takes place once again on Saturday, Oct. 7. The city has been supportive of weekly community bike rides, organized by Besek and leaving from parks across Dearborn every Wednesday, from May through October.

"Bicyclists in Dearborn, whether they are riding for recreation or to commute to work or other destinations, deserve to feel safe,” Besek said. “Dearborn is quickly becoming more bike friendly. This is just another piece of the puzzle. We are optimistic that this will eventually become a state law.”

(Photo courtesy of #BikeDearborn).