Senate panel approves bills to increase safety on Michigan roads

 

LANSING, Mich. — The Senate Judiciary Committee on Wednesday approved legislation that would increase road safety for all vulnerable roadway users, including cyclists.

Senate Bills 123, 124, 170, 330, 580, and 581 would help increase safety for all motorists and cyclists on Michigan’s roads.

“It’s important that all roadway users feel that they are safe and are obeying the rules of the road,” said Senator Margaret O’Brien, R-Portage, sponsor of SBs 124, 170, and 330. “Our roads are big enough for everyone to share and get where they are going safely and without harm. This bill package is about promoting a system that helps ensures this.”

The legislation would require motorists to allow five feet of distance when passing a cyclist on either the left or right side, would crack down on distracted driving and would require one hour of drivers education training on road safety.

Paul Runnels, Sheila Jeske, Jennifer Johnson and Paul Gobble, survivors of the June 7, 2016 cyclist-pickup collision in Kalamazoo that left five cyclists dead, all testified in support of the bill package. Representatives from disability advocate organizations also testified in support of the bills and spoke to how their bikes are their only means of transportation.

The bills now advance to the full Senate for consideration.

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Photo caption (left): Sen. Margaret O’Brien (center-right), R-Portage, is joined by Sen. Tonya Schuitmaker (right) and Sen. David Knezek (left) in welcoming Paul Runnels, Sheila Jeske, Jennifer Johnson and Paul Gobble to the Michigan Senate. The guests were survivors of the June 7, 2016 cyclist-pickup collision in Kalamazoo that left five cyclists dead.

Photo caption (right):  Paul Gobble (left) and Paul Runnels (right) testify in support of a road safety package during the Senate Judiciary Committee meeting.

*** Media Advisory *** Kalamazoo cyclist-pickup collision survivors to testify at Senate Judiciary Committee hearing

Senator Margaret O'Brien

Senator Margaret O’Brien

Who:

Paul Runnels, Sheila Jeske, Jennifer Johnson and Paul Gobble.

 

What:

Testimony in support of Sen. Margaret O’Brien’s road safety legislation.

 

When:

Wednesday, Sept. 27

9 a.m.

 

Where:

Room 1300, Binsfeld Office Building

201 Townsend St.

Lansing, MI 48933

 

Brief:

Paul Runnels, Sheila Jeske, Jennifer Johnson and Paul Gobble will offer testimony in support of legislation sponsored by Sen. Margaret O’Brien, R-Portage, focused on increasing road safety for all vulnerable roadway users, including cyclists.

Runnels, Jeske, Johnson, and Gobble are survivors of the June 7, 2016 cyclist-pickup collision in Kalamazoo that left five cyclists dead. They will be available for comment following the conclusion of the Senate Judiciary Committee meeting.

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Sen. O’Brien proposes naming I-94 corridor after fallen Comstock Fire Chief Ed Switalski

Senator Margaret O'Brien

Senator Margaret O’Brien

LANSING, Mich. — Senator Margaret O’Brien, R-Portage, introduced new legislation on Thursday that would name a stretch of Interstate 94 after fallen Comstock Fire Chief Ed Switalski.

“By renaming I-94 after Chief Switalski, we will achieve two goals: reminding people to drive safely because lives are on the line and honoring Chief Switalski for his dedicated service to our community,” Sen. O’Brien said. “He will not be forgotten.”

Chief Switalski was killed in the line of duty on Wednesday, June 14 when he was struck by a vehicle while responding to an accident on I-94 in Kalamazoo County. He was named Michigan Fire Chief of the Year for 2017. The bill would name the span between exits 80 and 86 on I-94 after Switalski.

“My daughters and I would be honored if this stretch of highway was renamed in honor of my husband who was so committed to public safety and such an asset to Kalamazoo County and the state of Michigan,” said Holly Switalski, wife of Fire Chief Switalski.

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Sen. O’Brien introduces ‘Legislator Compact’ resolution to denounce all forms of hate, bigotry and extremism

Senator Margaret O'Brien

Senator Margaret O’Brien

LANSING, Mich. — The Michigan Senate on Wednesday adopted the Michigan Legislators Compact, a resolution introduced by Senator Margaret O’Brien condemning all forms of hate, bigotry and extremism.

“Michigan is a welcoming state and no one should have to live in fear of hate, bigotry and extremism,” said Sen. O’Brien, R-Portage. “We, the Legislature, must lead by example in uniting against those who spread hate, and we must not allow hate speech or actions to poison our society. It’s important that we have a debate on the issues facing our state and nation while also respecting each other as people.”

Rep. Jeremy Moss is expected to introduce a similar resolution in the House next week.

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