By ZEINAB NAJM
DEARBORN — As Dearborn grows into a bicycling community, the city council introduced a bicycle safety ordinance during its Sept. 12 meeting.
The ordinance will require drivers to maintain a minimum distance when overtaking or passing a bicycle.
“When overtaking or passing a person operating a bicycle proceeding in the same direction, the driver of a motor vehicle shall exercise due care and may only overtake or pass a bicyclist when there is a safe distance, which shall minimally require allowing the bicyclist at least five feet operation between the right side of the driver’s vehicle, including all mirrors or other projections, and the left side of the bicyclist at all times.”
Any person who violates the rule will be given a civil infraction.
Council President Susan Dabaja said the ordinance would need a second reading before it becomes a law and hopes people understand the need for it.
“Over the past year, we’ve become quite bike friendly,” she said. “With biking obviously comes a reasonability of making sure that people are safe as they participate in the activity.”
Councilman Brian O’Donnell said it would take time for people to adjust to driving with more people on bicycles.
“We are having a lot more bikes in the city, bike paths, alternative forms of transportation, even jogging,” he said. “Sometimes cars are not really paying attention. So, this a tool that can be used just to make people have some reasonableness, give people who are on two wheels or two legs a little bit of opportunity to move around.”
During his travels, Councilman David Bazzy said the East and West coasts have a significant number of bike lanes in cities.
“It seems like it takes the Midwest a little bit longer to grasp onto the things that happen on the coasts,” Bazzy said. “I think that if we get to a point that we get bike lanes and we start utilizing traffic lanes for bikes it becomes even a more effective means of being able to see where the bikes are and communicate.
“We’ve gotten too busy with these little devices and other things that tend to take everything we’re doing away from the road. We have to learn to be sharing with the bicyclists because seconds on this can mean disasters for people that are jogging or biking.”
In June, the first ever bike sharing program was launched by the city in collaboration with Zagster. The program provides residents and visitors with 50 Zagster 8 cruiser bikes at 10 stations throughout both downtown areas.
Dearborn Sausage Co. owners Donald and Mary Kosch provided the sponsorship for the program by donating $1.2 million.
Bikes can be found using the free Zagster Mobile App available for iPhone and Android, online at zagster.com/dearborn and via text by sending “SMS” to 202-999-3924.
The University of Michigan-Dearborn also has extended the Gateway Path by three-quarters of a mile in length with a 10-foot-wide asphalt addition just before the fall semester began.
The public is welcome to walk, jog and ride a bicycle on the path that crosses at Hubbard Drive connecting the university’s Fairlane Center buildings with the student housing at the Union.
UM-D, the state of Michigan and city of Dearborn collaborated on the extension which has been in the works for four years completed.
(Zeinab Najm can be reached at [email protected])