How to put LMB victories to work in your community

April 17, 2024

It’s a great time to be a Michigan bicyclist. Thanks to the support of LMB members like you and your hard work as an advocate, we’re celebrating three recent victories and looking forward to more!

This wouldn’t have happened without you, and now I’m turning to you for the next step. I want to share three ways to put these victories to work in your community, and invite you to Advocacy Day on May 14, where we’ll advance a new round of legislation to make Michigan bicycling better.

Victory #1: Safer Speed Limits

Slower speeds mean a better chance of crash survival. Source: USDOT

What Happened: In August 2020, we started discussions with Rep. Slagh’s office about a bill he had introduced the previous year to reform the process for setting speed limits. Over the following years, LMB fought for the bill across three sessions, testified in House and Senate committees, met with legislators, sent in countless emails in support, and finally saw it pass 100-10 in the House and unanimously in the Senate. It was signed by the governor on April 2 with immediate effect and became Public Act 33 of 2024.

The new law allows communities to round up or down from the 85th percentile speed when setting speed limits, instead of just to the nearest increment of 5 mph. It also allows speed limits to be set lower (but still above the 50thpercentile) where there’s a hazard to public safety.

Put It to Work: Think about the high-speed, high-conflict roads near you – the ones that are especially important but hazardous to people on bikes or on foot. Look at the high-risk map from an MDOT-funded research study to find the highest concentrations of pedestrian and bicycle crashes in your area. Click on a highlighted road to see more info – length of the road segment, number of crashes, nighttime crashes, crash rate, road ownership, and more.

See the Map

Is there a road that needs a lower speed limit near you? Talk to your city’s transportation department, your county road commission, or the local MDOT Transportation Service Center (depending on who owns the road), give them our summary of PA 33, and ask for a speed study.

Read the Summary

Let me know what they say, and how it goes! We want to know how well the new law works and make sure it’s as useful as possible.


Victory #2: $3.5 Million for Shared Streets and Spaces

Photo CC-BY-SA Ken Lund (Flickr), taken in Detroit MI in Sept. 2015. Can you spot the crosswalk?

What Happened: In 2023, LMB advocated for a $5 million state budget item for better bike and pedestrian infrastructure, modeled on the Massachusetts Shared Streets and Spaces program. We were successful in getting $3.5 million allocated in the final budget. MDOT has now opened applications for the Shared Streets and Spaces Grant program, with a deadline of June 7.

Put It to Work: With less than two months before the deadline, cities will need to act quickly to apply. Unlike many grant programs, there’s no match requirement, but the limit is $200,000 per recipient. MDOT will hold webinars on the application process for city staff on Monday, April 15 at 3 p.m. and Friday, April 19 at 10 a.m. Encourage your city to attend and plan an application!

Learn More

Photo CC-BY-SA Brian Rawson-Ketchum (Flickr), taken in Battle Creek MI in Jan. 2008. Can you see the pedestrian?

This is a great way to fund low-cost, high-impact projects like:

  • Short connections to close gaps in a bike network or sidewalk grid
  • Flexible post delineators or planters to convert a section of painted bike lane into protected bike lane
  • Better lighting at crossing points (especially if there’s a high proportion of nighttime crashes shown on the high-risk map)
  • Rectangular flashing beacons or pedestrian hybrid beacons
  • High-visibility crosswalks
  • Lane reconfigurations / road diets, where these can be done by re-striping the roadway

Check out the FHWA Safe System Roadway Design Hierarchy for more ideas or consult your community’s nonmotorized transportation plan.


Victory #3: Bike Audits through the MI Healthy Climate Corps

What Happened: Last December, LMB was selected for a MI Healthy Climate Corps position. After interviewing several applicants, Joanie Towarnicky started on March 18. Joanie is a founder and President of Friends of the Grand Blanc Grid. Throughout her time with the MI Healthy Climate Corps, Joanie will learn about safe transportation planning practices and put them into action. She’ll conduct bike audits using an AARP toolkit to give local leaders the data, solutions and strategies needed for transformative change.

Put It to Work: Some Michigan communities have robust plans to improve safety for people who walk and bike – but some don’t. In some cities, there are neighborhoods where significant improvements are underway for safer walking and biking, and others where planning hasn’t started. We’d like to find the places that need better bicycling, conduct bike audits in partnership with local advocates and officials, and move toward plans for investing in safety. Sound like something you’d like to be part of? Get in touch with Joanie at [email protected]

The Next Steps

We’re not resting on our laurels. There are plenty more victories to be won, and we need your help and voice to get there:

We’ll push for all of these at Bicycle & Trail Advocacy Day on May 14. It’s a chance for bicyclists across Michigan to come together and meet with their state senators and representatives. We schedule meetings with each attendee’s representatives, provide you with a sheet of talking points based on our legislative agenda for 2024, and give you time to tell your representation in Lansing why they should passionately support safer and better bicycling initiatives in Michigan. Join us for a unique opportunity for cyclists of all abilities – casual riders and die-hards alike – to help make Michigan bicycling better.


Yours in bicycling,


Matt Penniman
Communications and Advocacy Director
League of Michigan Bicyclists


P.S. Two more victories worth noting: since the passage of the hands-free law last summer, distracted driving crashes in Michigan are down more than 10%, with approximately 14 lives saved. LMB also offered a public comment to the Governor’s Traffic Safety Advisory Committee and we’re exploring how we can best contribute to adopting Safe System Approach messages suggested by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety.

P.P.S. A functioning non-profit is a lot like a bicycle in some ways – there’s a framework of policies and practices, handlebars (a strategic plan) to steer us forward, tires (programs like education and advocacy) where the rubber meets the road, and pedals and a seat (communications like this) to interface with the rider. But for the whole thing to move forward instead of sitting in the garage, it needs power. Muscle from the rider. Can you give LMB a little oomph?


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