NOTE: The following is an excerpt from an article by Michelle Meunier that originally appeared in on 6/25/11. For the full article, please click here.
The Michigan Complete Streets Coalition would like to congratulate James, Katie and Conor for their continued success in advancing complete streets in Michigan. In addition to this new recognition by Senate Majority Leader Randy Richardville, the students also were recently honored in front of Saline City Council by Mayor Driskell, in addition to being recognized by the League of Michigan Bicyclists as Bicycle Advocates of the Year at our 2011 Michigan Bicycle Summit.

Katie Birchmeier, James Kleimola (back) and Conor Waterman speak with Senate Majority Leader Randy Richardville.

For James Kleimola, riding his bike around Ypsilanti gives him a sense of independence.

The 19-year-old Ypsilanti resident has cerebral palsy and can’t drive, so he uses his bike to get to Eastern Michigan’s Young Adult Program, EMU football games and church.
“I’m just going to continue to follow the rules and to stay safe, ride to the EMU young adult program,” Kleimola said. “I would like to ride more places to become more independent, that is what I want in the future.”

Kleimola, along with 10-year-olds Conor Waterman and Katie Birchmeier, both of Saline, were recognized June 22 by the Michigan Legislature as state advocates of the year for their work in making streets safer for bicyclists.

These three youths are students of programs to educate all cyclists, PEAC, and testified in front of the Michigan House and Senate Transportation committees along with the Disability Caucus to help support the Michigan Complete Streets legislation in 2010.

John Waterman, executive director of PEAC said that Complete Streets has to do with road access issues.

“A lot of times we’re designing roads with just cars in mind, but there are individuals like these three that won’t have the opportunity to use cars,” he said. “Looking at our streets for all users we’re really using our public dollars to fund so everyone has access to our community, which is so so important.”

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