Michigan House approves 3-foot distance to pass bikes - WNEM TV 5

Michigan House approves 3-foot distance to pass bikes

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A bill advancing in Michigan's Legislature would require drivers to allow 3 feet of clearance while passing a bike, unless it's impracticable.

Wednesday's 98-10 vote in the House comes after months of hearings and behind-the-scenes work. Michigan is among 11 states with no "safe passing" law, and bicyclists have been pushing lawmakers to act as more riders are killed by motorists.

As introduced, the legislation would have required 5 feet of clearance. But the House settled on a 3-foot distance.

Another bill approved 105-2 would mandate teen drivers receive at least one hour of instruction on laws pertaining to bicycles, motorcycles and other "vulnerable" roadway users including pedestrians.

"I think it's a great idea. I think people should get fined for it," said David Delano, with Cyclefit Sports in Fenton.

Delano said he avoids riding his bike on main roads because drivers don't always treat cyclists very kind.

"I've had people slow down and throw water bottles or beer bottles out the window at me. And it's not because I pull in front of them. It's their way of telling me to get off the road," Delano said.

The legislation next moves to the Senate, where a 5-foot passing distance has been proposed.

"I've had hundreds of close calls, but fortunately I've never been in an accident caused by a vehicle. But I have customers and friends that weren't so lucky," said Matt Assenmacher, owner of Assenmacher's Cycling Center in Swartz Creek.

Assenmacher said he hopes people realize cyclists have a right to be on the road.

"Legally they're supposed to be there. Many communities don't allow bicycles to go on sidewalks," Assenmacher said.

As more people are choosing to use alternative methods to get around, more cyclists are getting hurt and killed.

According to the United States Department of Transportation, deaths among bicyclists rose by 10 percent in 2015, with vehicle crashes taking 818 lives and injuring an estimated 45,000 bicyclists.

As spring starts to get warmer, Assenmacher said this law could give him and everybody else on two wheels a little more security.

"Just give them a little bit of space. It doesn't cost anybody anything. Doesn't slow anybody down to be safer," Assenmacher said.

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