top of page

Horrific Accident Emboldens Calls for Protected Bike Lanes.

In news that is all too familiar for any long-term cyclist, five cyclists were struck by an SUV near Grand Rapids, Michigan, while riding for a Make-A-Wish fundraising event. The vehicle made contact with all five cyclists as it drove in the opposing traffic lane while attempting to pass another vehicle. Two of the cyclists were killed and three sustained critical injuries. Many say that the accident was completely avoidable, had the town created protected bike lanes that are separated from regular traffic. Others also commented on Michigan's poor infrastructure making it unlikely for there to be any hopes of change.

A visual representation of why painted lines are not a safe bike lane, and how motorists disregard cycling safety laws.

A visual representation of why painted lines are not a safe bike lane, and how motorists disregard cycling safety laws.

An annual fundraising event for the Make-A-Wish Foundation turned tragic Saturday morning when an SUV crossed over the center line and collided with a group of cyclists, killing two and injuring three.

The five cyclists were all participating in the Make-A-Wish bicycle tour, a three-day endurance ride that spans most of the state.

According to witnesses, the SUV was trying to pass another vehicle when it drifted into oncoming traffic and collided head-on with the group of cyclists. Two riders were killed instantly while three others sustained serious injuries and were taken to nearby hospitals for treatment. Their conditions are unknown at this time.

The identities of the victims have not been released, pending notification of next of kin. The driver of the SUV was not injured in the collision and is cooperating with authorities as they continue to investigate what caused him to cross over into oncoming traffic

The cyclists, who have not yet been identified, were riding southbound on the road when the SUV collided with them. One of the cyclists was pronounced dead at the scene, while another died from their injuries at a nearby hospital. The three surviving cyclists are being treated for severe injuries. Authorities say that they are still investigating the incident.

The driver, who has not been identified pending charges and an arraignment, is facing two counts of Operating while Intoxicated Causing Death.

The Make-a-Wish Foundation, a nonprofit organization that grants wishes to children with life-threatening illnesses, has expressed its condolences towards the cyclists and their loved ones in a statement shared with CNN, stating, "Our staff and the entire Make-A-Wish family are heartbroken and offer our deepest sympathy for the riders involved, their loved ones, and all members of the WAM community during this difficult time."

Bicycling on the roads in Michigan can be a dangerous proposition. There are no statewide laws mandating the use of bike lanes, and many municipalities do not have ordinances requiring their construction, leaving cyclists to fend for themselves against vehicular traffic.

This lack of protection puts bicyclists at risk every time they hit the road. In 2017, there were 17 bicycle fatalities in Michigan, and 60% of those killed were not wearing helmets.

There have been several high-profile accidents in recent years that illustrate the dangers faced by cyclists on Michigan roads. In 2016, 5 cyclists were killed in a collision with a pickup truck while riding on a rural road near Kalamazoo. The group was training for a long-distance charity ride at the time.

Just last year, another cyclist was struck and killed by a hit-and-run driver while riding his bike home from work in Lansing. The victim, an experienced rider who always wore protective gear, was just blocks away from his house when he was hit from behind without warning. His family is still searching for justice.

These tragic stories are all too common in Michigan, where drivers often fail to yield to bicyclists or give them enough space on the roadways. Cyclists are also frequently harassed or even assaulted by angry motorists who see them as nuisances or obstacles.

The situation is made worse by the fact that many localities do not have adequate infrastructure in place to support safe bicycling conditions. Protected bike lanes are few and far between, forcing riders onto busy streets with fast-moving traffic. And when bike lanes do exist, they are often poorly designed or maintained, making them more hazardous than helpful to riders trying to navigate Michigan’s roads safely. Add All of these factors together make it clear that much more needs to be done to improve safety for bicyclists on Michigan’s roads. Drivers need to be better educated about how to share the road with bikes, and cities need to invest in safer cycling infrastructure. Until these changes are made, biking on Michigan roads will remain a risky proposition.

228 views0 comments