A pair of bills that are supposed to make Michigan’s roads safer for bicyclists are waiting for the Senate’s consideration.
One would require students in driver’s education classes to spend at least an hour learning to drive safely around “vulnerable” road users. The other would require drivers to pass cyclists with three feet of clearance when possible, and to pass them safely in any case.
Republican State Senator Margaret O’Brien says the proposals are part of a larger package that’s aimed at protecting “vulnerable” road users.
“There’s one more the House is going to be sending to us. I’m working weekly with the Speaker’s office, and so we’re working to send them our package and then we can start fine-tuning everything. It’s really about just timing everything correctly,” she said.
The bills are in the Senate Judiciary Committee now; O’Brien says she hopes to see them move before the summer.
League of Michigan Bicyclists Executive Director John Lindenmayer fought for a stronger, five-foot passing rule. With many other states having approved a three-foot clearance, he says he recognized that the LMB might have to bend on that point.
But Lindenmayer says he is “very concerned” about “vague” language in the bill that allows motorists to pass at an unspecified “safe distance” when they can’t give a cyclist three feet.
Still, Lindenmayer said, the legislation now in the Senate is a start. Unlike many states, Michigan has no safe-passing law.
“It’s not necessarily the bill that we introduced, but we think it’s still an important step forward and something that we can build upon and come back to strengthen down the line,” he said this week.
“We’re pretty concerned that any additional changes or substantial changes could make the whole thing fall apart and make us start from scratch,” he said of the current proposals.
Lindenmayer adds that he believes the bills will have enough support to pass the Senate.
“We don’t want to rush this at the very end of the session, so we’re hoping in the upcoming weeks that we can get this all worked out in terms of the timing,” he said.