Nancy Krupiarz is LMB’s Bicycle Safety Instructor, organizing training sessions each year in which we work with law enforcement to make Michigan roads safer. The article below appears in the Nov./Dec. 2018 edition of Michigan Bicyclist.

In the past year, LMB was fortunate to receive a grant from the Office of Highway Safety Planning to do several projects to advance bicycle safety. One of those projects was a continuation of what began in 2017 to educate law enforcement officials and citizens on the laws related to bicyclists and motorists. In 2018, nine different training sessions were held from May through September across the state, including Muskegon, Detroit, Lansing, Portage, Northville, Flint, and Mt. Pleasant. Detroit held a total of three sessions so that most of their neighborhood police officers could be trained. In all, the trainings reached 154 people, of which 114 were law enforcement officers. An invitation was also extended to the public, resulting in participation from bicycle club members, bicycle shop owners, community planners, and other interested individuals.

The full training consisted of a community bicycle safety lecture and a hands-on demonstration of how to put on a children’s bicycle rodeo (meant for elementary school students). The lecture focused on 5 topics:

  • The latest statistics on bicycle/motorist crashes

  • The Michigan Compiled Laws related to both motorist interaction with bicycle traffic and bicyclist interaction with motorized traffic

  • How to start a campaign on enforcing these laws

  • Methods for educating the community on bicycle safety and the laws

  • Engineering remedies that, in addition to law enforcement and education, help to make the road safer for bicycle traffic to coexist with motorized traffic

The rodeo demonstration, which was part of four of the nine trainings, included a step by step guide on set-up, as well as practice on fitting a bicycle helmet, performing a bicycle check-up for safety and proper fit, and setting up five drill stations for children to learn important bicycle riding skills.Overall, the training received a “very good” rating in participant evaluations, with 80 percent of those completing surveys rating it at least 8 or better on a 10-point scale. Almost all the participants said they found the refresher on the laws to be the most helpful part of the training, and some gave equal mention to the bicycle rodeo instructions as well as the resource guide provided on a jump drive for all participants. Several were surprised to learn of the extent of rights of the road afforded to bicyclists. The format of inviting participation from bicycle groups and other advocates in with law enforcement personnel was seen as a useful tool to exchange perspectives and increase understanding on the topic of bicycle safety. Some very positive testimonials were offered, such as “This workshop is a valuable resource for cyclists, motorists, law enforcement, and elected officials,” “Great class- I would recommend all officers get this class,” and “I believe we would be able to implement this information.”

Another project included with this year’s grant was to develop a similar legal primer on the laws related to motorists and pedestrians. This is another topic on which people are uninformed, and there are a variety of local ordinances throughout the state that contribute to this lack of certainty. Such items as marked and unmarked crosswalks and pedestrian traffic signals are especially misunderstood. After national and statewide research, information on the laws related to motorists and pedestrians has been developed for use in continued law enforcement trainings for next year.

The primer on laws related to pedestrians will also be used in yet another grant component, that of developing a training for driver’s education instructors. Since the passage of Public Act 277 of 2018, another hour of instruction must be provided to driver’s ed students on sharing the road with bicycles, motorcycles and other vulnerable roadway users. All the information on laws related to bicyclists and pedestrians will be incorporated into this curriculum as well as general safety tips for driving that will help instructors and their students understand the nuances of nonmotorized traffic. The instructor training is expected to begin once it is approved by the Secretary of State, and the enhanced drivers ed curriculum is scheduled to start by next summer, 2019.