By NICK STANEK
Capital News Service
Michigan bicyclists can now use their right arm to signal a right turn, joining most of the rest of the country.
Lawmakers recently approved the change that is now before Gov. Rick Snyder.
Until now, bicyclists were required to signal a right turn by sticking their left arm out in the shape of an L.
“When we started this bill last spring, 32 states had already passed similar laws in their vehicle code,” said John Lindenmayer, the policy director at the League of Michigan Bicyclists.
The bill was sponsored by state Rep. Anthony Forlini, R-Harrison Township, a lifelong bicyclist. He said the change was overdue.
“I mean think about it, it’s no different than a car,” Forlini said. “Can you imagine a car without a brake light? You can’t react quick enough to a momentum change.” Forlini said the change spotlights the importance of using turn signals because more people are using their bikes as part of a “healthy Michigan.”
The old right-turn hand signal was made with the left arm in the shape of an L because drivers cannot put their right arms out the windows.
“More people tend to use their right arms anyway when biking and it makes sense to signal with the arm in the direction that you are turning,” Lindenmayer said.
Signaling with the old left hand signal is still allowed.
Mountain biking is very popular in the Upper Peninsula which is ranked number five in the world for the sport, said Rep. Scott Dianda, D-Calumet.
“We see a lot of folks biking up here in the winter,” Dianda said. “We have Michigan Tech in Houghton and the biking racks are always active.”
Lawmakers are also considering other safety legislation that affects bicyclists.
The Vulnerable Roadway Users bill, sponsored by Rep. Ed McBroom, R-Vulcan, is now before the House. It increases penalties against drivers who injure or kill anyone who is considered a vulnerable user, such as a bicyclist.