Momentum! As we close the year, LMB is busier than ever fighting to improve bicycle safety, safeguarding against attempts to raid non-motorized funding, educating law enforcement, and defending the rights of Michigan cyclists.
2017 has been an exciting year full of positive changes at LMB. We advanced more legislative initiatives in the past year than ever before. This includes bills to enact a 5-foot passing law, include more time devoted to bicycle safety and awareness in drivers ed, expand our state's texting while driving law, and stop senseless tickets to bicyclists simply for having bike racks on their vehicles.
With a year-end gift, you will help us keep the momentum up in 2018 and continue to fight to make Michigan more bicycle-friendly. We hope you will consider making an even bigger impact by contributing to our Annual Campaign and sharing your support of LMB with a cycling a friend.
In addition to our legislative work, LMB added new programs to our lineup in 2017. In May, LMB launched our Micro-Grant program. We awarded over $12,000 to innovative projects focused on bicycle safety, advocacy, and efforts to increase ridership – especially among youth, women, and underserved communities. We were overwhelmed with amazing submissions – twice as many as available funds! Awarded projects included community bike programs, safety campaigns, bicycle repair stations, programs to support youth cyclists and those with disabilities, and a pop-up bike lane demonstration, just to mention a few. We plan to do even more in 2018! You can help expand the program and aid more local bicycling initiatives through a special gift to the Micro-Grant Fund during our Annual Campaign.
LMB's tour line up also expanded this year. In June, we hosted the inaugural HUB Fest, a one-day adventure in historic Adrian, Michigan. The event offered four unique routes catering to the varying interests and skill levels of Michigan's diverse cycling community. From roadies to gravel grinders to first-time tour participants, HUB Fest had something for everyone, including children and families. A heartfelt thank you to the 250 riders and our generous sponsors who helped to make our inaugural event wonderful success! We are already excited for HUB Fest 2018, as well as the rest our annual tours!
I'm also excited to share that we updated and re-launched our Bicycle Safety for Law Enforcement Training program. Many of our members have been asking about rebooting this training series for a number of years and we are thrilled we accomplished this in 2017! Nancy Krupiarz, recently retired Executive Director of the Michigan Trails and Greenways Alliance, is spearheading this effort for LMB in partnership with the Michigan State Police. We held a successful first training in September and are busy planning additional sessions throughout the state for next spring.
Through all the changes within LMB, we have worked hard to help advance bicycle-friendly policies through the State Legislature. In October, Governor Snyder signed e-bike legislation making Michigan the seventh state to define electric assist bicycles and outline where they can be ridden on roads and trails. LMB spearheaded efforts to draft the legislation and hosted numerous e-bike demonstrations with our partners. As the fastest-growing segment of the bicycle industry, confusion among users, retailers, law enforcement, and trail managers was mounting. E-bikes have the potential to significantly increase ridership, supporting our movement's "safety in numbers" mantra. E-bikes offer new riding options for individuals with limitations due to age or disability, long commutes, stronger riding partners, or those who otherwise would not choose the bicycle as a means of transportation or recreation.
We have made great steps forward, but we cannot afford to slow down the pace! Tragically, bicycle fatalities rose a staggering 81% since 2014 in Michigan. This is unacceptable and why LMB needs your help to continue our fight for a 5-foot passing law and improvements to drivers education! Locally, nine communities have now adopted safe passing ordinances. At the state-level, the Senate Judiciary Committee adopted our bicycle safety package in September and in October the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee heard powerful testimony on the House versions of our safe passing and drivers education bills. With your continued support, we are optimistic that these common-sense bills will soon find their way to the Governor's desk.
We all know that bicyclists are inherently vulnerable roadway users. Because of this, crashes due to distracted drivers have become a growing danger for the bicycling community. That's why LMB recently helped advance legislation to the Senate floor that expands Michigan's texting while driving law and strengthen penalties around distracted driving.
In 2016, the Michigan Supreme Court ruled that a license plate partially obstructed due to a hitch mounted tow ball or other devices such as a bike rack is legal grounds for a traffic stop. Cyclists have since been targeted for traffic citations, up to $250, simply for having bike racks on their vehicles. LMB's concerns regarding these unwarranted traffic stops are being heard! We are pleased to share that legislation to exclude bike racks as obstructions recently advanced to the House floor.
In November, funding for essential public safety infrastructure such as sidewalks, crosswalks, shared use paths, wide shoulders, and bike lanes came under fire. LMB quickly mobilized vocal opposition to a bill that would eliminate a long-standing requirement that Michigan road agencies spend a portion of transportation funds on walking and biking projects. Thanks to supporters like you, we overwhelmed offices with calls, emails, and social media posts in just 24 hours. As a result, the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee removed the bill from consideration. Your financial support ensures that LMB can remain vigilant in resisting efforts to raid non-motorized funding.
Michigan recently was named the 13th most bicycle-friendly state in the nation, moving up from 18th. This progress is made possible through your continued engagement on these important policy issues and generous financial support.
While our hard work is paying off, 13th is simply not good enough! Despite our progress, Michigan still has a disproportionately high number of cyclists being injured and killed. We still have too many communities with subpar or a complete lack of bicycle facilities. We have too many drivers, cyclists, and law enforcement who simply don't understand the rules of the road. Our work is far from done. Together we can and will make Michigan bicycling better. You are the momentum that makes this work possible!
Thank you for your investment in LMB!