Bicycle safety bills largely common sense approach

As regrettable as it is, sometimes it takes a tragedy to prod lawmakers into passing legislative bills to address whatever the situation was that contributed to the tragedy.

That’s the case with a bill that would require drivers to stray at least five feet away from bicyclists when passing on the left. A package that enjoys rare bipartisan support in the state legislature was approved by a state Senate committee this week. A June 2016 crash in Kalamazoo County killed five cyclists and injured four others, providing the impetus for the legislation.

“We need a change in the driving culture,” Paul Gobble, a survivor of the June 2016 crash in Kalamazoo County, told the Detroit News for a story this week. “There is a great deal of ignorance about what the rights are of cyclists from drivers out there, but beyond that, there’s a great deal of animosity towards cyclists.”

If ultimately approved by both chambers of the state Legislature and signed into law, the bills would, in addition to the five-foot clearance, require driver’s education classes to include bicycle awareness and impose tougher penalties for motorists who kill someone while texting and driving, the News reported. Some 38 bicyclists were killed on Michigan roads in 2016, according to the League of Michigan Bicyclists.

All of this seems like common sense to us. We’re pleased the package enjoys support from both Democrats and Republicans and hope it is approved without delay.