LMB’s Letter to MI Senate Committee on SB 682

February 14, 2024

LMB offered testimony yesterday to the MI Senate Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure on two bills. We support HB 4012 for a more flexible process to set safe speed limits, and oppose SB 682 which would set a blanket 15 mph speed limit for bikes on Mackinac Island. Communications and Advocacy Director Matt Penniman also wrote a letter to the committee on SB 682, available below.


Feb. 13, 2024

Dear Chair Geiss and members of the Senate Transportation and Infrastructure Committee,

The League of Michigan Bicyclists opposes SB 682 as introduced. While recognizing and applauding its goal of road safety, we have serious concerns with the language of the bill and possible unintended consequences:

  1. The use of “vehicle” in the bill means that the 15mph speed limit would not apply to people riding conventional bicycles, but only to people riding e-bikes. As only people with mobility-related disabilities are allowed to ride e-bikes on Mackinac Island, the bill could disproportionately affect disabled people.
  2. Riding conditions are very different in the downtown area of the island from the majority of the road loop. A bicyclist could safely exceed 15 mph coming around the north side of the island, but even 10 mph might be too fast through the heavy pedestrian presence downtown.
  3. By restricting itself to roads closed to nonemergency motor vehicles, the bill does not offer any tools for other Michigan cities to improve safety.
  4. According to preliminary statistics, 178 pedestrians were killed in Michigan last year in traffic crashes (up from 173 in 2022) – all or almost all by drivers of motor vehicles. It seems a bit counterproductive to limit a law intended to improve pedestrian safety to a city with an excellent pedestrian safety record.
  5. Many bicyclists may find it difficult to know whether or not they are in compliance with the speed limit, as a speedometer is not standard equipment on a conventional bicycle. Many e-bikes have a speedometer, but not all.
  6. Serious crashes between motor vehicles and pedestrians are relatively common. There was a fatal crash between a car and a 9-year-old pedestrian in July 2023 in Mackinaw City. Serious crashes between bicyclists and pedestrians are not common. I was unable to find a single reported crash between a bicyclist and a pedestrian in the last 10 years on Mackinac Island through MichiganTrafficCrashFacts.org. This may be due to a lack of data – but without data, it is difficult to say whether this is a real problem.

Mackinac Island is not unique in having conflicts between pedestrians and bicyclists. These kinds of challenges with sharing space happen on sidewalks and shared use paths every day around our state, but because bicycles – including e-bikes – are so much lighter and slower than cars, they are not nearly as dangerous.

Michigan state law already deals with these conflicts, not by setting a speed limit*, but by requiring bicyclists to yield to pedestrians and signal when passing in high-conflict spaces. We feel that this would be a superior approach to the safety outcome that this bill is trying to achieve, while avoiding many drawbacks.

In practice, this might mean amending MCL 257.660c (addition in bold):

(1) An individual operating a bicycle upon a sidewalk, or a pedestrian crosswalk, or a highway or street that is closed to nonemergency motor vehicles shall yield the right-of-way to pedestrians and shall give an audible signal before overtaking and passing a pedestrian.

Thank you for the chance to share our concerns. I would be happy to hear from you with any questions or ideas.


Matt Penniman
Communications and Advocacy Director League of Michigan Bicyclists

*Only one state sets a speed limit for bicyclists on sidewalks: Hawaii, 10 mph.

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