Lawmakers continue push for greater protections for cyclists on roads

LANSING, Mich. — West Michigan lawmakers are leading the continued fight to keep cyclists safe on the roads as the Kalamazoo community marks the one year anniversary of the cycling tragedy that killed five people.

In all, nine bicyclists were hit by a pickup truck driving erratically along a rural road in Cooper Township on June 7, 2016.

Pickett is charged with killing 5 bicyclists.

Debbie Bradley, Melissa Fevig-Hughes, Tony Nelson, Larry Paulik and Suzanne Sippel were killed. Four others were injured.

Sen. Margaret O’Brien, R-Portage, is sponsoring several bills aimed at creating clearer rules for sharing the road.

One proposal would require drivers to leave at least five feet of space between them and a bicyclist when passing. O’Brien also wants to mandate lessons on safe road sharing during drivers’ training courses.

“Young people don’t seem to be coming out with the knowledge about what the rules of the road are, and how to share the road,” O’Brien told FOX 17 by phone.

“It’s very important that we all understand we are one community, we all share this road.”

O’Brien says she also pushing for stiffer penalties for distracted driving that causes a crash involving cyclists.

“As a runner, I can understand the nervousness of those who bike,” she said. “As a runner I’ve had cars be aggressive toward me, and it makes you very fearful because what could be a casual run can turn into potentially a life altering situation.”

These efforts follow changes made at the local level shortly after the crash. Kalamazoo and Portage were among cities to implement ordinances that require five feet of passing distance between drivers and cyclists.

O’Brien says it’s crucial to have universal mandates at the state level.

“I applaud my local communities for saying ‘we’re going to do something, and we’re going to protect people,’ but the state needs to do more,” she said.

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3 comments

  • Pips

    And which one of these new laws would have saved those who died in kzoo? Seems to me that a bunch of spandex wearing douchbags just want to make the roads less vehicle friendly. How about cyclists stay off the roads. That’s the safest spot for them.

  • steve

    Nice in theory. But, for whatever reason, cops can’t enforce the laws currently on the books. Why create another law that won’t be enforced?

  • Michael

    Or how about allowing cyclists to ride against the flow of traffic? Right now a bicyclist has to blindly trust the car coming up behind them is paying attention and gets over.

    If the cyclist could see the incoming traffic he could avoid the collision. Not that it’s the bicyclists responsibility but we all know a lot of drivers are idiots.