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      Pay attention to pedal pushers during your commute

      May is National Bike Month and May 13-17 is Bike to Work Week.

      Drivers are being asked to share the road and be aware of cyclists.

      May is National Bike Month and May 13-17 is Bike to Work Week. The Michigan Department of Transportation is reminding drivers to pay close attention to bicyclists.

      In 2012, there were 1,970 reported crashes involving bicyclists in Michigan resulting in 1,598 injuries and 20 fatalities. That number is down 17 percent from 2011 when there were 24 fatalities, but state officials say crashes involving bicyclists remains disproportionately high compared to other roadway users or crash types.

      "While this data suggests some improvement, drivers must remain focused at all times when they get behind the wheel and share the road," said State Transportation Director Kirk T. Steudle. "These crashes are avoidable. Drivers should always be alert and pass slower moving traffic, including bicyclists, from a safe distance."

      The Traverse City Ride of Silence raises awareness and honors cyclists who have been killed or injured while riding on public roads.

      The Cherry Capital Cycling Club and TART Trail sponsors the annual ride which took place at 7pm Wednesday. Cyclists met at the old railroad depot near Woodmere Avenue and Eighth Street in Traverse City.

      The Ride of Silence route went through downtown Traverse City and lasted less than an hour. The Ride of Silence takes place in more than 320 communities worldwide, 27 of them in Michigan. Wednesday's ride was about seven miles long. The procession was slow and completely silent to honor those who have been killed or injured while riding. It serves as a reminder to the community of the vulnerability bikers face riding along our roads.

      "We all have a chance to be on these public roadways but we all need to share them and work together to increase bicycle advocacy and advocacy for more things and improve the fitness of our community - it's just a no brainer," stated Tom Auer of the Cherry Capitol Cycling Club.

      In addition to May being National Bike Month, Bike to Work Week is May 13-17, with Friday, May 17, designated as Bike to Work Day.

      "We join other transportation agencies to raise awareness and promote our safety message: 'Give 'em Space, Make it Safe, Please Share the Road,'" said Steudle.

      Motorists are cautioned to pay close attention when driving near bicyclists and pedestrians as the warmer spring months lure people outdoors.

      Michigan has a growing number of bike lanes and thousands of miles of shared-use pathways that bicyclists can use and enjoy.

      For maps and other important information, including "What Every Michigan Driver Should Know About Bike Lanes," click on MDOT's website.