With standing room only, the room was abuzz with Complete Streets supporters on May 27th as the House Transportation Committee took testimony on HB 6151 and 6152.

It was standing room only yesterday as the House Transportation Committee took testimony on HB 6151 and 6152, Complete Streets legislation introduced by Representatives Jon Switalski and Pam Byrnes.  The legislation would ensure that future road projects throughout Michigan would be required to provide safe accommodations for all roadway users such as bicyclists, pedestrians and those with disabilities.

The Coalition sincerely thanks everyone who came to the hearing and submitted testimony and cards of support.  The committee members were impressed with the turnout and the amount of written testimony they received.

Providing moving testimony was Michelle Miles, mother of Jasmine Starr Miles, who was fatally struck by two cars and tragically killed in 2003 within 1,000 feet of a school zone while crossing a four lane road in Lansing.  The roadway had neither crosswalks nor a sidewalk available.  Cynthia Redinger of Opus International Consultants, Inc then presented a Powerpoint overview on what Complete Streets look like.

Opposition (MDOT, CRAM, MAC and MTA) is working hard to defeat these bills - as we knew they would.  Their approach is that they support the concept of Complete Streets, but view these bills as an unfunded mandate.  Testimony from numerous supporters of the bills, however, debunked such claims, including AARP’s Adam Goldberg and Ypsilanti Mayor Paul Schreiber who cited multiple examples of additional cost and delays in road projects in his community because of inadequate planning to accommodate nonmotorized users.

Representative Switalski’s testimony also cited recent examples in Mt. Pleasant, Kalamazoo and Traverse City where MDOT has failed to coordinate with local road agencies:

“The other component of this legislation is the coordination of the department and local road agencies on transportation projects. MDOT does great work for our state but we are asking them to do a little more when it comes to coordinating with locals on state trunklines in cities. On several occasions the department has not coordinated with local road agencies on state trunkline projects in that local road agencies’ jurisdiction.”

Additional supportive testimony was provided by Todd Scott of  Michigan Trails and Greenways Alliance and Ferndale City Councilmember Melanie Piana of Michigan Suburbs Alliance.  John Waterman of Program to Educate All Cyclists was accompanied by numerous children with disabilities who expressed their need for Complete Streets to be able to safely get around their communities.

Michigan Land Use Institute, League of Michigan Bicyclists, Washtenaw Area Transportation Study, Green Grand Rapids, TART Trails and Michigan Developmental Disabilities Council, among others, submitted written testimony in support of the bills.

Dozens of other supporters were in the room prepared to testify but were not able to because of time constraints. Over 50 comment cards were also submitted in support of the bills yesterday.  Additionally, nearly 500 emails were sent to House Transportation Committee members in the past two weeks expressing support for these bills.

The Transportation Committee also took testimony from Katherine Knoll of Healthy Kids Health Michigan, before adopting House Resolution 187 and House Concurrent Resolution 34 to express support for active transportation infrastructure options that promote walking and bicycle usage and reduce childhood obesity.

Going forward, we will need support from local county road commissions, municipal planning organizations (MPOs) and city officials.  If you have relationships with people in any of these capacities, please speak with them and put them in touch with our Coalition.

The next hearing on HB 6151 and 6152 is tentatively scheduled for Thursday, June 10th at 10:30 am in the House Office Building in Lansing.  We will keep you posted.