It’s hard to sit with the heaviness that settles in after a tragic event. We feel helpless, like no action we can take will relieve the suffering of those that have experienced the tragedy first hand. As cyclists, we know the gnawing fear that comes with wondering if it will be us or our loved ones who experience the next cycling tragedy. And we also know the frustration of feeling powerless to protect ourselves.
We believe that bicycling crashes are no accident. They’re the result of specific failures, of technology, infrastructure, and awareness – failures that we can work together to fix.
Many times, LMB works behind the scenes to identify a need, design a solution, and then gather a coalition to advocate for it. Staff bring in our members and supporters when we’re ready to push for action and we have a clear path forward. There are many cases where this approach works well. Still, we can accomplish even more by attacking these interconnected problems from many angles at once.
You’re invited and encouraged to take ownership of the first steps. You are the expert on bicycling in your own community. You know where the problems are, and you can learn what it takes to fix them.
In the list below, you’ll find actions you can take to make cycling safer in your community, based on the time commitment required. Click on the links to learn more and see examples of what’s been done in other communities. Please reach out to us if you have questions or need advice.
You are the voice of bicycling in Michigan. Speak out!
Significant time commitment
- Advocate for better bike lanes. Not all bike lanes are created equal – some are great, some are okay, and some are downright frightening. As a bicycle advocate, one of the most impactful things you can do is push for better bike lanes in your community. Learn more about effective designs from the NACTO Bikeway Design Guide, check out projects in Michigan cities such as Kalamazoo and Ferndale and speak out at a public meeting or send a letter to your community’s transportation commission. Every community should have a non-motorized transportation plan and make steady progress on implementing it. Does yours? Finally, learn about LMB’s Bike Wave program – LMB’s lending library of temporary bike lane equipment, free for any municipality to use, currently deployed in Kalamazoo – and see if it’s right for you.
- Apply for Safe Streets and Roads For All. The new SS4A federal grant program supports communities in writing and implementing an Action Plan to increase safety. The deadline for this year is coming up on September 15, so it’s a great time to either plug into an existing team applying in your community or start assembling a team to apply for next year.
- Win a five-foot safe passing ordinance. While LMB successfully won passage of a three-foot law for all of Michigan, several cities have gone above and beyond and enacted five-foot safe passing ordinances. Yours could be next! You can learn more about writing and passing local ordinances from the Michigan Municipal League. For an example, check out how LMB board member and Bike Dearborn founder Tracy Besek persuaded her city to require five feet: Dearborn, MI votes to approve 5 foot passing ordinance
Moderate time commitment
- Provide comment on MDOT’s Five-Year Transportation Program. The draft 2023-2027 plan is available for public comment until the end of August. Your comment is up to you, but you might consider responding to the “Safety Goals” section on p. 30-31, asking for more detail on the safety benefits and impacts of the proposed projects, or reviewing the regional non-motorized plan for your area and comparing its proposals with the projects planned in this document.
- Push for asphalt art at dangerous intersections. The street paintings in Saginaw aren’t just examples of stunning beauty in public spaces – a safety study found that asphalt art led to a “50% decrease in the rate of crashes involving pedestrians or other vulnerable road users; 37% decrease in the rate of crashes leading to injuries; [and] 17% decrease in the total crash rate.” Identify dangerous intersections in your community and ask your elected officials to add art! Which intersections in your community are dangerous? Use the Data Query Tool on michigantrafficcrashfacts.org and select Time Frame > Last 5 Years, Geographic Location > City or Township, and Filters > Crash: Bicyclist > Bicyclist Involved (Apply Filter), then click View Crash Map. You’ll get a result like this:
- Ask for “Bikes May Use Full Lane” signs. Anywhere that traffic lanes are too narrow to allow a car to safely pass a bicyclist in the same lane – and especially where this happens in a gap between two road segments with bike lanes or wide shoulders – your community should consider putting up a sign to remind drivers that bicyclists may legally use the full lane in these (and other) circumstances. Learn more about the sign and LMB’s past advocacy for its use to be permitted in Michigan.
- Read about (and act on) ways to become a bicycling advocate. You’re part of a global movement for better and safer bicycling. Learn from bicyclists in Maine, Minnesota, California, Colorado, New York and beyond. Start a reading and discussion group with fellow bicyclists in your circle, and stay tuned for upcoming opportunities to join LMB in learning and conversation.
Minimal time commitment
- Write to your elected officials. We’re coming to the end of a legislative session, with only a few voting days remaining before the November elections. This is a great time to write to your elected representatives and the candidates running for office and ask them to support safer bicycling, bike commuters, e-bikes and active transportation. Find your State Representative, State Senator, members of Congress and Senators (Peters and Stabenow.)
- Become a member of LMB. You are one of the spokes that makes up our wheel. Join today or consider making a contribution. The League of Michigan Bicyclists has been advocating for the safety of all cyclists in the state of Michigan since we began in 1981. Whether you’ve supported LMB for years, or you’re new to the cause, you’re a friend of LMB, and we can’t advocate at a high level without your support. From the casual neighborhood rider to the tough all-weather year round commuter, from road and gravel cyclists who race and tour to mountain bikers who shred on trails, we want everyone in the state of Michigan who wants to ride a bike to feel safe and empowered.
Yours in action,
Matt Penniman and Nicky Bates
P.S. We’re one of several organizations in Michigan that are working towards safer cycling. If you’re looking for partners in this work, check the list of LMB member bike clubs and businesses/organizations to find a bicycle-friendly group near you!
P.P.S. “Another world is not only possible. She’s on her way. On a quiet day. I can hear her breathing.” – Arundhati Roy
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