Bicycling safety has been a hot topic in the Legislature recently, and we have good news to report out. Right-hand turn signal legislation and Vulnerable Road User bills have moved easily, bringing us closer to bicycle-friendly roads.
House Bill 4866 was passed by the House Tuesday, October 15th in a 106-0 vote. Introduced by Representative Anthony Forlini (R-Harrison Township), the bill revises right-hand turn signal requirements for bicyclists. The bill is a League of Michigan Bicyclists policy priority, and is a common-sense piece of legislation that helps accommodate all road users.
Currently, cyclists must signal a right turn by extending the left arm upward, arm bent 90 degrees at the elbow. This is not an intuitive motion, and can be confusing to motorists following the bicyclist. HB 4866 allows a right turn to be signaled by extending one’s right arm horizontally. Many bicyclists already use this motion to signal a right-hand turn. The overwhelming support for the bill is another sign Michiganders are warming up to alternative modes of transportation, especially bicycling. The bill now heads to the Senate Committee on Transportation.
Both Vulnerable Roadway User bills unanimously passed out of the House Criminal Justice Committee on Wednesday, enhancing penalties for injuring or killing vulnerable roadway users. House Bill 5080, introduced by Representative Ed McBroom, defines what groups are vulnerable roadway users, including pedestrians, bicyclists, and wheelchair users, and lays out enhanced penalties for injuring or killing these users.
House Bill 4792, introduced by Representative David Nathan (D-Detroit) complements HB 5080. It would make reckless driving that causes the death of a vulnerable roadway user a Class C Felony with a sentence of up to 15 years.
Together HBs 5080 and 4792 make injuring or killing a vulnerable roadway user with a motor vehicle an offense comparable to killing a construction worker in a construction zone or killing an operator of farm equipment on road. Injuring a vulnerable roadway user would be a misdemeanor punishable by imprisonment up to one year, a $1,000 fine, or both. Killing a vulnerable roadway user would be a felony punishable by not more than 15 years imprisonment, a $7,500 fine, or both.
The Vulnerable Roadway User bills increase accountability for negligent motorists at a time when using alternative modes of transportation, such as walking and biking, have become much more widespread. More than 90 local complete streets policies have provided Michigan communities with a plan to provide necessary infrastructure to facilitate walking and biking and wheelchair users. This legislation would provide an essential enforcement component to protect these vulnerable users. Both bills now head to the House for a full vote.
Written by Jeff Prygoski, Trans4M Fellow