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MI House passes bills to protect “vulnerable roadway users” on 8th anniversary of Kalamazoo crash

Close up man riding an e-bike
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Close up man riding an e-bike

A bill inspired in part by a 2016 car crash in Kalamazoo that killed five bicyclists passed the Michigan House on the eighth anniversary of the event.

Proposed by state Representative Julie Rogers and Senator Sean McCann, both Kalamazoo Democrats, the legislative initiative is encapsulated in four bills — two House bills and two Senate bills. They aim to increase penalties for drivers who seriously injure or kill what they term "vulnerable roadway users," which includes people who walk, bike, ride horses, and use wheelchairs.

Gina Apone, the communications coordinator for the League of Michigan Bicyclists, said current penalties for deadly drivers are not sufficient. "As of now, drivers who kill or injure bicyclists in a crash are only charged with a misdemeanor. So what these bills also help do is kind of close the gap in existing laws that we have."

The bills aim to elevate those penalties to felonies, allowing for years of imprisonment and thousands of dollars in fines for drivers who cause deaths or serious injuries.

The legislation still needs to clear several hurdles to become law. "Our House bills are now going over to the Senate Judiciary Committee," Rogers explained. "They'll have to pass out of committee in the Senate, then they'll go to the (full) Senate for a floor vote, and then they would go on to the governor. So those are still the steps needed before they would become law."

Zena is a senior at the University of Michigan with aspirations of becoming a broadcast journalist. She is interning in the Michigan Public newsroom.
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