LMB is thrilled to report that the Senate adopted our 5-foot passing bills (SB 1076 and 1077) and our driver's education improvement bill (SB 1078).
The bills now move to the House. We are still waiting to hear what committee they will be referred to. We know that the House will not meet again until after the election on November 8, meaning no further action on these bills will be taken before that date. However, we are optimistic that we will still see House action during lame duck session this fall.
SB 1077 deals with motorists passing on the left of a bicyclist. It states:
THE DRIVER OF A MOTOR VEHICLE OVERTAKING A BICYCLE PROCEEDING IN THE SAME DIRECTION SHALL PASS AT A SAFE DISTANCE OF AT LEAST 5 FEET TO THE LEFT OF THAT BICYCLE, AND WHEN SAFELY CLEAR OF THE OVERTAKEN BICYCLE SHALL TAKE UP A POSITION AS NEAR THE RIGHT-HAND EDGE OF THE MAIN TRAVELED PORTION OF THE HIGHWAY AS IS PRACTICABLE.
NOTWITHSTANDING SECTION 640, IF IT IS SAFE TO DO SO, THE DRIVER OF A MOTOR VEHICLE OVERTAKING A BICYCLE PROCEEDING IN THE SAME DIRECTION MAY OVERTAKE AND PASS THE BICYCLE IN A NO-PASSING ZONE.
SB 1076 is similar, but deals with motorists passing on the right of a bicyclist. Examples of why a motorist might pass to the right of a bicyclist include when the bicyclist is riding on the far left side of a one-way road, or when the bicyclist is maneuvering away from the right side of the road in order to make a left turn.
Significant changes were made to the driver's education legislation (SB 1078) before it passed off the Senate floor. The original bill language included three hours dedicated to bicycle and motorcycle awareness. It read:
Classroom instruction shall include 3 OR MORE HOURS OF information concerning the laws pertaining to bicycles and motorcycles and shall emphasize awareness of their operation on the streets, roads, and highways of this state.
The full text of the version of SB 1077 that was adopted, with substitute language, can be found here. The substitute language reads:
Classroom instruction shall include NOT LESS THAN 1 HOUR OF information concerning the laws pertaining to bicycles, and motorcycles, AND OTHER VULNERABLE ROADWAY USERS, INCLUDING PEDESTRIANS, and shall emphasize awareness of their operation on the streets, roads, and highways of this state.
THE LAWS OF THIS STATE PERTAINING TO AWARENESS OF BICYCLES, MOTORCYCLES, AND OTHER VULNERABLE ROADWAY USERS, INCLUDING PEDESTRIANS, SHALL ALSO BE INCORPORATED INTO ADDITIONAL CURRICULUM, WHICH SHALL INCLUDE, BUT IS NOT LIMITED TO, LAWS PERTAINING TO YIELDING THE RIGHT-OF-WAY, TRAVELING AT A SAFE AND REASONABLE SPEED FOR CONDITIONS, ENSURING A SAFE DISTANCE, AND DISTRACTED DRIVING.
LMB was disappointed to see the time requirement changed from three hours to one. Additionally, while we certainly support protecting all vulnerable roadway users such as pedestrians, the revised language now splits a single one hour between all three user groups.
We are excited, however, at the inclusion of the second sentence, which requires that bicycle information also be incorporated in other areas of the curriculum outside of the stand-alone hour segment. Likewise we are pleased that a short list of delineated topics was included such as yielding right of way, speed, safe distance, and distracted driving.
Senator O'Brien, the bill sponsor from Kalamazoo, was in favor of the reduction in time in order to appease concerns by the Secretary of State's (SOS) office over the original three-hour requirement. While LMB pushed back on any reduction in time, we still believe this is a positive step towards educating young drivers about sharing the road. Additionally, Senator O'Brien and SOS are already discussing opportunities to make more substantial changes to the driver's education curriculum next session, including adding more time to the entire course. This will provide the cycling community additional opportunities to push for additional bicycle safety content.
One obvious omission from our Senate victory is the absence of our Vulnerable Roadway User bills that create enhanced penalties for drivers who injure or kill a bicyclist. Despite the Judiciary Committee unanimously passing SB 1029 and 1030, Republican leadership did not schedule the bills for a floor vote, stating concerns about creating special classes of penalties. Despite the setback, LMB remains optimistic about the prospect of advancing these bills during lame duck.
What can you do to continue moving this legislation forward?
1) Sign and share our Action Alert.
Add your name to our Action Alert at LMB.org/takeaction. Doing this will send an email to your State Representative, Senator, and Governor Snyder. Since bills are in play in both chambers, it is important to continue to get emails into offices. Language reflecting recent events will be added to the Action Alert, meaning that even if you have already signed, singing it again will serve to remind your lawmakers that there is still work for them to do.
2) Thank your Senator.
Don't forget to thank your Senator for their leadership! The bills had a lot of positive support and were adopted by wide margins. This means that your emails, phones calls, and social media posts did not go unnoticed. You can find their contact information here.
Below is a breakdown of how the Senators voted*:
Yeas—34, Nays—2 (Hildenbrand, Knollenberg)
Yeas—34, Nays—2 (Hildenbrand, Knollenberg)
*Senator Johnson was excused from all three votes.
3) Stay tuned for opportunities to advance our Vulnerable Roadway User bills.
LMB is working on the next step in driving forward this bill, and we will need your help to do it. Please keep an eye on our social media, website, and on your emails. Be ready to join us in the next push to get movement on this important legislation.
As always, thank you to everyone who has joined and helped us get this far. This victory shows the strength our collective voices have in driving change. Let's keep it up!