Southfield residents gear up for bike riding season with bike safety checks performed at the Bike Safety Night May 9 in the Southfield Pavilion.

Southfield residents gear up for bike riding season with bike safety checks performed at the Bike Safety Night May 9 in the Southfield Pavilion.

Photo provided by the city of Southfield

Bike Safety Night aims to educate and equip local cyclists

By: Kathryn Pentiuk | Southfield Sun | Published May 23, 2024


SOUTHFIELD — While Southfield is gearing up for a beautiful bike-riding season, the League of Michigan Bicyclists is advocating for safer roads for bicyclists.

The League of Michigan Bicyclists is a nonprofit organization founded in 1981 with the mission to “improve life through bicycling.”

The LMB advocates for bicycle-friendly policies at the state Capitol; provides financial assistance to individuals and organizations with a shared mission; develops and promotes educational materials for bicyclists, motorists, engineers and law enforcement; runs several annual multi-day cycling tours; and provides bicyclists with an annual ride calendar featuring statewide bicycling events.

On May 9, the Southfield Parks and Recreation Department held its annual Bike Safety Night at the Southfield Pavilion to equip Southfield riders with education and resources to enjoy safe biking in the city. The free event featured bike safety checks,  guidance on sharing the road with others from the Southfield Police Department, a bike skills course set up by LMB, and a helmet giveaway by Corewell Health Children.

Jeff Carek, the education director for LMB, said there were 24 bicyclists killed in Michigan in 2023.

Carek added that the LMB is always advocating for safer roads for pedestrians and bicyclists. The group supports the vulnerable roadway user bills, Senate Bills 617-618 and House Bills 5223-5224, to create stricter penalties for anyone who kills or injures a vulnerable roadway user, such as people walking, using roller or inline skates, using a non-motorized scooter or skateboard, using a wheelchair, riding a horse, or driving a carriage.

“In this state, it has been common practice that there are enhanced penalties, as everybody knows, for hitting a roadway user, a first responder, a tow truck driver or a construction worker on the side of the road. All those people are protected under state law with enhanced penalties,” Carek explained. “Bicyclists, pedestrians and even Amish in a horse-drawn wagon — if they were to be struck and killed or struck and seriously injured, the only thing that the driver of the motor vehicle could be charged with is a one-year misdemeanor, a traffic violation causing death with the offset of any extenuating circumstances, like drug or alcohol impairment.  What we’re asking for would enhance those sentences to be five years for serious injury and up to 15 years for death.”

Carek said that motor vehicle operators should be alert of other roadway users, such as bicyclists and pedestrians. He said that when passing bicycles, drivers should always give a minimum of 3 feet. “Something a lot of motor vehicle operators don’t know is that if it’s safe to do so, they’re allowed to cross a double yellow line in order to give the cyclists 3 feet while passing,” he said.

Carek advised drivers to always watch for cyclists in intersections and to not attempt to overtake a cyclist as you’re approaching an intersection to make a right-hand turn.

“Give them room as you approach the intersection to ensure that they can operate safely as well, since you don’t know if they’re going to continue through the intersection or what their intentions are. Slow down around cyclists. The five seconds you’re gonna lose — is it worth that other person’s life?”

For bicyclists, Carek emphasized the importance of understanding the rules of the road and communicating intentions with traffic.

Lt. Teresa Young of the Southfield Police Department said that with the next phase of the Nine Mile corridor construction underway this year from Prescott to Lahser, Southfield and the partnering communities of Farmington Hills, Farmington, Oak Park, Ferndale and Hazel Park are more than ever encouraging placemaking and connectivity.

“It is the hope of the Southfield Police Department that access to a dedicated pathway between these cities will provide a safe alternative of travel to our city’s pedestrians and bicyclists,” she said in a statement.

Young said that bicyclists utilizing the pathway should keep the following safety tips in mind:

Keep right and pass left.  Stay to the right side of the path except when passing others. It is recommended that when passing, cyclists make an audible signal, such as announcing that they’re passing on the left or ringing a bell.

Share the path. Remember that cyclists are sharing the path with pedestrians, runners and other patrons. Pedestrians have the right of way. Slow down and yield to them as needed.

Stay alert. Pay attention to the surroundings and be aware of potential hazards, such as debris or wildlife.

Use lights and reflectors. If riding in low-light conditions, such as dawn or dusk or at night, use front and rear lights and reflective gear to enhance visibility to other path users and motorists while crossing over intersections.

Keep pets leashed. If riding with a pet, obey leash laws and ensure that pets are under control.

Signal your intentions. Use hand signals to indicate turns or stops to others.

Be predictable. Ride in a straight line and avoid sudden maneuvers that could cause a collision with another person on the path.

Stay off closed paths, especially as the pathway is being completed.  This is for cyclists’ safety.  Be mindful that the pathway could be closed for maintenance, construction or poor weather conditions.

Be courteous at crossings. Exercise caution at intersections and cross using marked crosswalks.  Yield to pedestrians and obey traffic signals.

Share your location. Consider sharing your location with a trusted friend or loved one, and communicate where you are going and what time you expect to reach your destination.

See something, say something. If you encounter something suspicious on a path or believe that you are in an unsafe situation, call 911 and you will be connected to the police department of the jurisdiction you are in. Remain on the line and provide as much detail as possible about the situation.

To learn more about the League of Michigan Bicyclists and bike safety, visit