ADVOCACY ALERT: Please contact your own Missouri Representative to oppose bicycle ban

[UPDATE 2/21/2012: Rep. Korman has now officially filed the Bicycle Ban bill as HB 672--though thanks in part to your advocacy, with only three co-sponsors.  The Advocacy Alert and suggested message points below have been updated to reflect this fact.] 

Unfortunately, we weren't kidding--the bicycle ban is back. 

No bicycles
No bicycles

A representative from High Hill, Missouri, has filed a bill to ban bicycles on any state road within two miles of a state-owned path or trail.  Several Representatives friendly to MoBikeFed forwarded a copy of the legislation to us.  The full text as filed is below.

The sponsor is now hoping to move the bill forward to a committee hearing.  The sponsor is a member of the House Transportation Committee and the bill is likely to be assigned to that committee--though other committee assignments are possible.

How you can make a real difference to kill the bicycle ban--in two minutes

At this time, it will help a lot to stop this proposed bicycle ban on certain state highways if you can take the following actions:

  1. Look up your own Missouri State Representative's contact information here
  2. Send your own Representative a message, or give him/her a brief call, based on our sample message below.  
  3. Main point of the message: Please oppose Rep. Bart Korman's bicycle ban bill; the Missouri bicycle community would like to be able to support the proposed $8 billion Missouri transportation funding proposal but it is very difficult for us to do so when a bill banning bicyclists from certain state roads is under serious consideration

Sample email message to your legislator

Subject: Please oppose Rep. Korman's bicycle ban bill

Body:

Representative X,

[Start by explaining that you live in the Representative's district, perhaps mention where you live, and mention that you bicycle in the district.  If you happen to know your legislator or have met him/her, you might mention that, or any connection you have with your legislator.)

I am writing today about HB 672 sponsored by Rep. Bart Korman of High Hill, calling for bicycles to be banned on state roads when there is a state-owned path or trail within two miles.

Please strongly oppose this bill. Conflicts can take place between different users on state roads, but the solution is to work together to upgrade those roads to meet modern safety standards and to meet the needs of all users, including bicyclists.  

Bicyclists would love to be among the strongest supporters of a new proposal for transportation funding in Missouri that will help upgrade these problem roads.  But it is very difficult for us to support new funding for Missouri transportation when bills are being introduced to ban bicyclists from a large part of that transportation system.

Providing safe shoulders for motorists and bicyclists on rural roads across Missouri is an effort we can all get behind--rural and urban Missourians, bicyclists and drivers.  Let's work together for real solutions rather than promoting conflict by trying to ban Missouri taxpayers from roads they have helped pay for.

[Please re-write or re-state the above in your own words for maximum impact. Your personal opinion about supporting the proposed Missouri Transportation Funding proposal may differ--but wherever you stand, if having this bicycle ban in place would move you towards greater opposition to new funding for Missouri transportation, please say so--because that is a very strong argument to legislators at this point.

A short message is often most effective--so you don't need to include anything more unless you want to.  But if you want to expand a little, include a short personal story about why bicycling is important to your, or briefly mention one or two of the talking points mentioned below, in a personal way.]

Thank you for listening--and feel free to contact me if you have any questions about bicycle-related legislation or issues in our district.

Sincerely yours,

XXXXX

Send the message to your own Missouri State Representative and also please CC: or BCC: director@mobikefed.org - it really helps us to know how many of our supporters are contacting their legislators.

Possible talking points

Please don't copy and paste the message below verbatim, but take a point or two that you agree with and use it write a short, polite, personal, and persuasive email message to your own legislator. 

The issue in almost all cases where legislators have proposed bicycle bans or so-called "mandatory sidepath laws" is this: 

Highway 150 - parallel wide sidewalk but no shoulders
Highway 150 - parallel wide sidewalk but no shoulders

  • There is a trail or path near a road
  • Many bicyclists use the trail, but many don't or can't use it for various reasons (ride much faster than trail traffic, have a skinny-tired road bike, don't like to compete with strollers and dog leashes, trail doesn't go where they need or want to go, etc etc etc)
  • Even though there is a lot of bicycle traffic in the area, MoDOT doesn't include any bicycle accommodations on the road "because there is a trail for bicyclists"
  • So many bicyclists end up riding on the road, which has no shoulders or bike lanes, and both bicyclists and motorists are uncomfortable.

Rep. Korman is from High Hill, where the Katy Trail parallels Hwy 94--but many bicyclists choose to bicycle Hwy 94 for various reasons.  Rep. Brattin's problem road was Hwy 150, an area where numerous road riders hold daily and weekly rides, yet MoDOT thought a sidepath trail was the complete solution to the needs of bicyclists in the area.

Given that situation, here are some points you can make to your legislator:

1. There is a real conflict that happens when roads are not built to safely handle all the traffic that uses them, including bicyclists, and bicyclists understand that this is a real problem from both the motorist's and the bicyclist's perspective.

   - Explain a little about why some bicyclists are always going to choose the road even when there is a trail nearby--what are the disadvantages of trails, why can't some bicycles ride on trails, and so on.

2. The bicycle ban on certain state highways is a counterproductive way to approach the problem. It won't be enforceable and won't solve the underlying problem.

3. The opportunity: With the $8 billion Missouri transportation funding proposal on the table, and with top state leaders already seeing this proposal as moving in the direction of multimodal transportation for Missouri, can we work for solutions that will help both motorists and bicyclists to resolve the ultimate conflict.  These would include:

  - Building shoulders on roads like Hwy 94, Hwy 150, and rural St. Charles County, where these conflicts between bicyclists and motorists most often occur.  The places where these conflicts occur are exactly the locations where everyone agrees that MoDOT needs to add shoulders to their highways.  A "more shoulders on state highways" proposal is one we could all get behind. 

Hwy 13 near Springfield
Hwy 13 near Springfield


 - A Complete Streets approach, which is flexible in helping MoDOT to understand which roads and highways have these conflicts and applying the fixes needed for those particular places--which might include shoulders and bike lanes on those roads where they are needed--will help resolve the underlying issue.

 - Update to MoDOT's internal bicycle accommodation policy.  This policy is, obviously, not working because these conflicts are coming to the fore again and again. MoDOT hasn't wanted to build its highways to accommodate bicyclists who use them, but those bicyclists just are not going away.  In fact, the conflicts that we are noting here and that led to this legislation are evidence that the conflicts are increasing and are not going away at all.

MoDOT has recently updated its ADA policy and its pedestrian policy. But its bicycle policy is old , obsolete, and not meeting the needs of state citizens--neither drivers nor bicyclists.  A good internal policy would give MoDOT districts guidance about where on-road bicyclists will be operating and where they must be accommodated.  Without that guidance, we end up with situations like Hwy 150, where a brand-new highway creates conflict between bicyclists and motorists because the brand new highway was not designed with the actual needs and actual usage patterns of the area in mind.

This is a huge opportunity to create safer roads in Missouri for everyone by addressing the underlying problems that are causing the conflict.  You can work with us to help get MoDOT on the path of solving this problem permanently.

MIssouri legislators are working on a plan to put $8 billion in new multi-modal transportation funding on the ballot for Missouri voters. How can we as Missouri voters support this proposal when legislators are working to ban us from state roads?

4. Missouri had a mandatory sidepath law until it was repealed in 1995--because sidepath laws are a bad idea.

5. A town in Colorado recently tried to enact a bicycle ban and it was overturned by the state supreme court.

The full text of the proposed new law

Portions bolded like this are to be added to current law.  Portions not underlined are current Missouri state law.

Download bill text: Bicycle ban draft legislation as circulated, 2013/02/10 (PDF) - HB 672, bicycle ban legislation as filed, 2013/02/20

AN ACT
 
To repeal sections 307.190 and 307.191, RSMo, and to enact in lieu thereof two new sections relating to bicycle operation on state roadways.
 
BE IT ENACTED BY THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY OF THE STATE OF MISSOURI, AS FOLLOWS:
 
Section A. Sections 307.190 and 307.191, RSMo, are repealed and two new sections enacted in lieu thereof, to be known as sections 307.190 and 307.191, to read as follows:
 

            307.190. 1. Every person operating a bicycle or motorized bicycle at less than the posted speed or slower than the flow of traffic upon a street or highway shall ride as near to the right side of the roadway as safe, exercising due care when passing a standing vehicle or one proceeding in the same direction, except when making a left turn, when avoiding hazardous conditions, when the lane is too narrow to share with another vehicle, or when on a one-way street. Bicyclists may ride abreast when not impeding other vehicles.

            2. Notwithstanding any provision of this section or any other law, bicycle operation on a state-maintained roadway is prohibited when there is a state-owned bicycle path or trail that runs generally parallel to and within two miles of a state roadway, except a bicycle may operate on the shoulder of a state roadway when the bicycle is operated as a means to ride to or from the operator's home to another residence, to a place of business, to a school, or to any public facility.

            307.191. 1. A person operating a bicycle at less than the posted speed or slower than the flow of traffic upon a street or highway may operate as described in section 307.190 or may operate on the shoulder adjacent to the roadway, except as provided in subsection 2 of section 307.190

            2. A bicycle operated on a roadway, or on the shoulder adjacent to a roadway, shall be operated in the same direction as vehicles are required to be driven upon the roadway.

            3. For purposes of this section and section 307.190, "roadway" is defined as and means that portion of a street or highway ordinarily used for vehicular travel, exclusive of the berm or shoulder.

 
Photo credits:
2. HIghway 150 in Missouri, MoBikeFed.
3. HIghway 13 in Missouri, MoBikeFed.

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