Farmington area's poor reputation among bicyclists creates problems for TransAmerica Trail

A recent article in the Park Hilll Daily Journal outlines some of the difficulties faced by bicyclists riding the famed TransAmerica Trail through that part of Missouri:

Over the past couple years, Adventure Cycling has received so many complaints that they are thinking about rerouting the trail so that it doesn't go through St. Francois County. Cyclists say their concerns are rude motorists who don't respect cyclists rights and also the condition of the roads that don't have shoulders. . . .

Tim White, who opened his bicycle shop across from the St. Francois Courthouse five years ago, said he is getting fewer and fewer customers from the TransAmerica route.

He believes it is because the Parkland joins part of Kentucky in having the worst reputation for the way motorists treat cyclists. He said those who have bicycled through the area get on the Internet and post messages about how they have been treated. . . .

White said he heard of one cyclist renting a car in Steelville and driving through the area to Chester where they get back on the bike.

He said 22 TransAmerica riders came into his store this summer. Two years ago, he had almost 100 TransAmerica riders come in and the year before, he had 141 TransAmerica riders stop in.

“We're losing these people because of the way they are being treated,” he said.
The article points out that Missouri needs to do much more to make bicycling tourists feel more welcome--everything from improving the roads to installing signs marking the routes and helping businesses be more welcoming to visiting bicyclists.
Both State Rep. J.C. Kuessner, D-Eminence, and State Sen. Kevin Engler, R-Farmington, would like to see the route continue to go through Iron and St. Francois counties because it brings in revenue and boosts tourism.

Engler said they are working to get Routes W and V wider. He said W is one of the most traveled lettered routes with no shoulder. He estimates about 10,000 motorists travel it each day.

Engler said motorists and cyclists need to use common sense when encountering each other on the roadway. He said bicycles have a right to be on the roadway and unfortunately, many of the roads are narrow. . . .

According to a District 9 official, a shoulder paving and road resurfacing project for both routes would cost about $4.2 million. Officials are hoping to get the project on the five-year state transportation improvement plan but the first step is to get it approved by Southeast Missouri Regional Planning in Perryville.

There are numerous vehicle accidents on both routes. Kuessner believes it is due to the routes not having a shoulder and there not being a place to safely pass.

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