FAQ

Here are some answers to Frequently Asked Questions. Have an unanswered question? Leave a comment.

Bicycle Laws

General

Getting Around

Maintenance


Is bike registration required in Detroit?

No. It used to be, but in 2008 the Detroit Greenways Coalition and Bike Riders United worked with Detroit City Council to make it voluntary. It’s now up to you to decide whether to register your bike. The many options includes the Detroit Police Department, Wayne State University Police Department, and numerous Internet-based registries. However, the most important step you can take that might help you retrieve your bike if stolen is to record the serial number on the bike frame. Having this unique number makes it easier for any registry to match recovered bikes to their original owner.

If your bike is stolen, you can also report it on the Detroit Bike Blacklist.

Are bike helmets required in Detroit?

No. There are no bicycle helmets laws in Detroit.

Can I bike or walk to Canada on the Ambassador Bridge?

No. The only time bicycles are allowed on the Ambassador Bridge is during the annual Bike the Bridge event. The only time pedestrians are allowed on the Bridge is during the marathon races.

Can I bike or walk to Canada through the Windsor-Detroit Tunnel?

Bicycles and pedestrians are not allowed in the Detroit-Windsor Tunnel. The Windsor Transit Tunnel Bus is an option. The bike racks can now be used on the Transit Windsor Tunnel Bus as of October 31, 2017.

Where can I rent a bike in Detroit?

Wheelhouse Detroit offers many rental options and are conveniently located on the RiverWalk near the Dequindre Cut.  Bikes and Coffee now has a small fleet of rental bikes as well.

MoGo Detroit is the public bike share program launched in 2017 with 430 bikes at 43 stations. MoGo also has 13 adaptive bicycles for those who need back support or with physical limitations. Those bicycles are available at Wheelhouse Detroit.

Many Detroit hotels also have bikes available for their guests, including Hostel Detroit, Inn on Ferry Street, Trumbull & Porter, and Foundation.

What is the Emergency Ride Home program?

Through their Southeast Michigan Commuter Connect, SEMCOG offers Emergency Rides Home if you biked or walked to work and have an emergency. If you enroll in their program, you can be reimbursed for Uber, Lyft, taxi, or rental car costs. Participants are eligible for five Emergency Ride Home trips during each calendar year. There are more details on the SEMCOG website.

Are eBikes legal on Detroit roads and trails?

Mostly yes based on state law. However,  class II and class III eBikes are not allowed on most Detroit trails.

Are autonomous delivery vehicles allowed in bike lanes or on sidewalks?

No, they are motor vehicles. They much be licensed, insured, and operate in the public realm just as any other motor vehicle should. They are not eBikes despite what local developers and the media have said (e.g. Detroit News, Detroit Free Press.)

Do I ride with traffic or against on the road?

State laws says bicyclists should ride in the same direction as the other street traffic when in the roadway.

Is it legal to ride on the sidewalk?

There are no restrictions against riding on Detroit sidewalks. Bicyclists that chose to ride on sidewalks must yield to pedestrians and should follow pedestrians signals at crosswalks. The same is true for motorized scooters.

Is it legal to ride with headphones?

Yes, there are no laws against doing so, however being able to hear traffic noise around you can make riding safer. A study from Australia found that bicyclists using ear-buds at a reasonable volume could hear traffic noise. It also found that motorists were far less able to hear traffic noise due to their vehicle design and sound systems.

Are those pedal pubs bicycles? Can they use bike lanes?

No and no. Pedal pubs, more formally called quadricycles are vehicles, not bicycles under Michigan law. Local ordinances prohibit all vehicles from travelling or parking in the bike lane.

Which Detroit trails are plowed of snow in the winter?

Riding or biking in the winter requires extra caution due to slick spots, ice, and snow. Some trails have a snow removal program, including the Detroit RiverWalk and Dequindre Cut, Midtown Loop and Conner Creek Greenway. Of course this does not guarantee a trouble-free trail surface, so remain cautious.

We’ll add that the Federal Highway Administration requires snow removal and treatment for ice on any project they fund: “Current maintenance provisions require pedestrian facilities built with Federal funds to be maintained in the same manner as other roadway assets.”

Who is responsible for removing snow from the bike lanes?

The Detroit Department of Public Works (DPW) is responsible for clearing snow from the bike lanes. What they do is dependant on the amount of snowfall. Read more on DPW’s Snow/Ice Management webpage.

You can report any snow removal issues by calling the DPW Street Maintenance Division at (313) 224-0033.

Is it against the law to push snow into bike lanes and sidewalks?

Yes, under Michigan law 257.677a(4) “A person shall not deposit, or cause to be deposited, snow, ice or slush on any roadway or highway.” Sidewalks and bike lanes are considered parts of the highway.

What are bike boxes?

From NACTO, “A bike box is a designated area at the head of a traffic lane at a signalized intersection that provides bicyclists with a safe and visible way to get ahead of queuing traffic during the red signal phase.” They have been shown to reduce common vehicle-bike crashes. At red lights, motorists must stop behind the stop bar and not in the green box. Right turns on red are not permitted with bike boxes.

Do bicyclists pay their fair share for roads?

Some motorists incorrectly believe that all road funding comes from the fuel taxes and vehicle registration fees they pay. A recent study found that only 62.1% of Michigan’s FY2014 road funding came from these taxes and fees. State and and federal road funding is being supported through general taxes that everyone pays. Local road funding often comes from property millages.

Do bicyclists break laws more than motorists?

No, although its common to hear motorists make that claim. A University of Colorado study found that both groups had similar levels of compliance with the law. It also found that bicyclists justified their explained their behavior as being safer or energy saving — indicating a need to improve bicycling laws and infrastructure.  The researcher also commented,  “Bicyclists don’t break the law at greater frequency than motorists, and when they do, motorists seem to selectively notice. They [the motorists] seem to be thinking they are engaged in something serious—trying to get to work, to be on time—while bicyclists are perceived to be engaged in something more frivolous.”

Aren’t most bicyclist and pedestrian fatalities due to them being impaired?

Believe it or not, we’ve heard this. It’s another way of blaming the victim rather than addressing the underlying problems, which typically includes the lack of Complete Streets designs. Nonetheless we looked at fatalities on Detroit roads between 2010 and 2016. The drug and alcohol (blood alcohol content or BAC) test results for bicyclists, pedestrians, and drivers are roughly the same. Keep in mind that Michigan’s Driving Under the Influence (DUI) laws and legal limits are only applicable to drivers of motor vehicles. There is no BAC limit set for bicyclists or pedestrians.

FatalitiesTested positive
for drugs
BAC 0.08%
and up
BAC 0.17%
and up
Bicyclists2010%15%10%
Pedestrians2398%10%5%
Drivers of Motor Vehicles32112%17%10%
Detroit Road Fatalities, 2010 through 2016

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