Bicycle crash survivors testify for increase safety on the roads - WNEM TV 5

Bicycle crash survivors testify for increase safety on the roads

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Survivors of a deadly bicycle crash in Michigan are joining the push to step up roadway safety.

"We need to affect the driving culture in that someone wouldn't even consider getting in the car and passing too close,” said Paul Gobble, a survivor of the crash.

Gobble testified Wednesday morning in support of bicycle safety legislation in front of the Senate Judiciary Committee.

He knows the dangers firsthand as one of four people injured in a deadly crash in Kalamazoo on June 7 last year. Five of his friends died after a truck ran them over.

The alleged driver, Charles Pickett, Jr., is now awaiting trial.

"There are some misconceptions out there that whether it's a bicyclist, a runner, a walker - there's people who think the roadways are only for cars, but in fact, it goes back to the formation of roads. Cyclists have always been allowed on the roads and so have runners, walkers." Sen. Margaret O'Brien said.

O'Brien, of Portage, and her Democratic colleague David Knezek, introduced the bills hoping to keep people like Gobble safe.

The bills' main goal requires drivers across Michigan to keep a distance of five feet when passing cyclists and other users. Some individual cities and towns already have this ordinance, including Kalamazoo.

"I think both with the visibility that our tragedy brought to the interaction between vehicles and bicyclists, as well as Kalamazoo passing the five-foot regulation, both of those things have helped,” said Paul Runnels, a crash survivor.

The legislation also tightens distracted driving laws to include all handheld devices and stiffens the punishment for such accidents. It also requires more education for new drivers.

The bills passed the Judiciary Committee and will now head to the full Senate. If passed, it still needs House approval.

O'Brien said similar legislation is sitting in the House with some bipartisan support. The legislation wasn't voted on by the House last year, but the survivors hope it has the necessary momentum this time around.

"Enough is enough. Michigan is lagging behind in this legislation. I would like to see Michigan as the leader in safety for all outdoor users of recreation. And it's time for them to step up and make it safe,” said Jennifer Johnson, a crash survivor.

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