GETTING AROUND MACKINAC ISLAND, MI
Because there are no cars on Mackinac Island, people get around in old-fashioned ways:
Clip-clop. That’s the soothing, ever-present sound on Mackinac Island, which has been car-free for more than 100 years. In place of the mechanized horsepower than harries much of the rest of the world, Mackinac Island runs peacefully on authentic horsepower – from horse-drawn carriage rides through town to horseback rides through the wilderness of Mackinac Island State Park.
Not only are horses one of the primary means of transportation on Mackinac Island, but a narrated horse-drawn carriage tour is perhaps the most popular thing to do.
You’ll also hear the delightful ding of bicycle bells as people pedal their way from place to place on Mackinac Island. There are more than 1,500 bikes to rent including tandem bicycles built for two, burleys for the kids, fat tire bikes as well as electric mobility scooters for visitors with limited mobility. You also can bring your own bike to Mackinac Island on the ferry boat from the mainland.
Of course, walking is a popular way of getting around Mackinac Island, too, whether you’re hiking some of the 70-plus miles of trails or just strolling around town. You’ll find a variety of Walking Tours that are great ways to experience Mackinac Island. And whenever you get tired, just call Mackinac Island Taxi at 906-847-3323 for a horse-drawn carriage ride to your next destination. Wheelchairs also are available for rent from many Mackinac Island bike vendors.
MACKINAC ISLAND BICYCLE SAFETY RULES
For your bicycle safety, please read and follow these simple rules:
- WATCH FOR HORSES – Please be prepared for very busy streets in the downtown area on Mackinac Island with the many bikers, pedestrians and horses. Please be especially cautious of horses at all times as it is difficult for them to stop quickly.
- NO TRAINING WHEELS – No person shall operate, or allow to be operated, a bicycle with training wheels on Main Street., Market Street or Cadotte Avenue (between Market Street and Grand Hotel).
- WALK ON SIDEWALKS – Pedestrians need to walk on the sidewalk for their own safety. Please look before stopping in the street, turning or crossing streets at all times.
- STAY TO THE RIGHT – Please stay to the right side of the street and keep bikes within the white line when parking on the street.
- BIKE PARKING – Please do not park bicycles on sidewalks or lock them to fixed objects. Burleys, tandem or bikes without kickstands must use off street parking.
EBike Q & A’s:
Q: Can I use an electric bicycle on Mackinac Island?
A: Only if you are a qualified person with a mobility disability and only if the E-Bike is a Class I electric bicycle.
Q: How do you define a “qualified person with a mobility disability”?
A: According to Section 66-167 of the Mackinac Island Code of Ordinances, a qualified person with a mobility disability is an individual who has a physical impairment that substantially limits the ability of the individual to pedal a bicycle; and despite the person’s physical limitations, he or she is capable of safely operating an electric assist tricycle/bicycle. Section 66-167 includes some examples of what can constitute a mobility disability.
Reference: Mobility Disabilities
Q: Are representatives of the City of Mackinac Island allowed to ask me personal questions about my disability?
A: No. However, if you are using an electric bicycle on Mackinac Island, representatives may ask you if you have a mobility disability, without compelling you to answer any specific questions about your disability. According to the Americans With Disabilities Act, they may also ask you to provide “credible assurance” that the mobility device is required because of a mobility disability. Such credible assurance may be provided by either showing a valid, state-issued disability parking placard or card or other state-issued proof of disability, or by verbally stating that the E-Bike is being used because of a mobility disability, unless the person is observed doing something that contradicts the assurance.
Reference: Credible Assurance of Mobility Disability
Q: What’s an electric bicycle?
A: As used in the City of Mackinac Island’s ordinance, an electric bicycle includes both two- wheeled bicycles and three-wheeled tricycles that satisfy all of the elements of the definition of “Class 1 electric bicycle” contained in Section 13e of the Michigan Vehicle Code, 1949 PA 300, MCL 257.13e. Basically, the Class I electric bicycle is equipped with an electric motor of not more than 750 watts, is limited to a top speed of 20mph, and the electric motor must only engage when the rider is pedaling. If you are able to apply a throttle to engage the motor, or if the bike is capable of speeds of over 20mph, that E-Bike is not allowed on the island. Each electric bicycle must have a label affixed somewhere on the bike that denotes whether it is a Class I, Class II or Class III electric bike. If an E-Bike does not have such a label affixed to it, a person may prove that the E-Bike meets the definition of a Class I electric bike or that it has been modified to meet that definition. Class III E-Bikes or modified Class III ebikes are not allowed on the island under any circumstances.
Q: I understand that motor vehicles are banned from Mackinac Island, but my electric bike is not technically a motor vehicle is it?
A: Mackinac Island City Ordinance Section 66-31 provides that an electric bicycle or tricycle is considered a “motor vehicle” unless it meets the definitions and requirements of Mackinac Island City Ordinance 66-167. While Michigan’s Motor Vehicle Code excludes E-Bikes from the definition of “motor vehicles,” (MCL 257.33) the State code also provides that “an individual shall not operate an electric bicycle within a city that prohibits the use of nonemergency motor vehicles, unless the city council of that city, by majority vote, adopts a resolution allowing the operation of electric bicycles within city limits.”
Q: I have a mobility disability but I have a Class II E-Bike, can I use my E-Bike on Mackinac Island even though only Class I E-Bikes are permitted?
A: Yes, if you bring your E-Bike into compliance with the City’s Ordinance by permanently removing the throttle. Pursuant to Section 66-167(e) if you have a mobility disability and already purchased a Class II E-Bike, you can modify your E-Bike to conform with the definition of an “electric bicycle” that is permitted on Mackinac Island. This can be done by permanently removing the throttle. Contact the manufacturer or a qualified technician for further information.
After your E-Bike is reconfigured, you can take it to the Mackinac Island Police station (located at 7374 Market St, Mackinac Island, MI 49757) to have a sticker applied to note the change in classification, which will certify your modified E-Bike as a Class I bike for use on Mackinac Island.
For additional information, please see the Mackinac State Historic Parks website.