Missouri Bicycle Ban still alive - what Rep. Rick Brattin, Harrisonville, said on TV news about banning bicycles from state highways

MoBikeFed News has recently run articles indicating that Rep. Rick Brattin was preparing to introduce legislation banning bicycles from certain state highways.

In a phone conversation with MoBikeFed and in email responses to concerned bicyclists who contacted in, Rep. Brattin vigorously disagreed with MoBikeFed's characterization that he was working on a bill to create a bicycle ban on certain state highways. 

Rep. Rick Brattin, Harrisonville
Rep. Rick Brattin, Harrisonville

His own explanation of his goal, from email message sent to constituents who emailed him with concerns about the proposal: 

I have talked about a bill that would have MoDot just create a detour in areas on state roads that are dangerous and have little visibility due to curves, hills, etc. for safety reasons.

So it is not a bicycle ban, but simply a mandatory bicycle detour on certain state roads. So it's not a bill he was preparing, but one he was simply talking about with many people, including television news crews.


Birth of the 2013 Bicycle Ban Proposal--Fox 4 News Interview with Rep. Brattin

This controversy began on January 6th, 2013, when Rep. Brattin appeared on 10PM Fox 4 News in Kansas City speaking about the proposal to ban bicycles from Highway 150 and his plans to wholeheartedly support legislation to bring this about.

MoBikeFed has obtained a copy of the video of the Fox 4 newscast where Rep. Brattin spoke about his bicycle ban proposal.

Unfortunately, licensing restrictions do not allow us to post video of the newscast.  However, can post this transcript made from that video, which played January 6th, 2013.

Rep. Brattin on current Missouri law, which allows bicyclists to use state roads: "I'm willing to work hard on it to get it changed."

In the video, reporter Brad Underwood interviews concerned citizen Frank Falco, who often drives on Highway 150, and Rep. Rick Brattin, Harrisonville, whose district lies just to the south of Highway 150:

Anchor Rob Collins: "Motorists in Lee's Summit share the road with bicyclists on Highway 150."

Anchor Mary Pulley: "And bike riders have the right to use the road, but some drivers are raising safety concerns for everyone on the road. Fox 4's Brad Underwood has that story." 

Bicyclist may use full lane sign on Highway 150
Bicyclist may use full lane sign on Highway 150
Brad Underwood: "The signage is very clear: Bicycles may use the full lane on Highway 150. Drivers must change lanes to pass."  [The video footage shows closeups of signs with those words as the reporter reads them.]

Frank Falco, concerned citizen: "It's dangerous.  For themselves and for everybody else."

Underwood: "Highway 150 between I-49 [Hwy 71] and Highway 291 is busy and hilly. MoDOT recently spent tens of millions of dollars widening this stretch of 150, plus installing a sidewalk on the northern part of the highway.

Falco: "And it does not make any sense for them to even be on this highway.  There is a wide sidewalk, maybe a four foot sidewalk, that stretches this whole stretch that they can be riding on."

Underwood: "But state law allows cyclists to use the road.  On this stretch, eleven different signs remind motorists of the rights of bike riders. [Video of bicycle rider on the multi-use path adjacent to Highway 150.] This man is actually using the sidewalk.  However Frank Falco says, too often he is put in unsafe situations because of bicyclists using the highway."

Falco: "About got in a bad accident.  You have to make a decision on whether you secure your vehicle and the safety of your family, or the car next to you, or hit somebody."

Rep. Rick Brattin, Harrisonville: "There's no shoulder, there's just curbs on both sides, and, you know, it's very dangerous . . . "

Underwood: "Representative Rick Brattin says it is a problem and he plans to address the issue when legislature is back in session."

Brattin: "No, unfortunately, it's not something that is going to happen overnight, but I'm willing to work hard on it to get it changed."

Falco: "I don't want to wait for the next session for them to vote on it, I don't want that.  Because if it happened, it could happen tomorrow.  And the sooner they get the signs off and get other signs up that indicate no bike riding on the highway, um, is better."

Underwood: "For now, the old state law stands. A bike is a vehicle and riders have the right to use the road. Brad Underwood, Fox 4 News working for you in Lee's Summit."

Summary: Rep. Brattin strongly supports a bicycle ban and is willing to work hard to get it passed

Rep. Brattin recognizes the bicyclists riding on highway 150 are a serious problem ("very dangerous"), states that he is willing to work on this problem over the long term ("not . . . going to happen overnight"), and that he is going to work hard to change the current situation, whereby bicyclists and allowed to ride on Highway 150 ("willing to work hard to get it changed").

In short--he committed to a bicycle ban on state highways like Highway 150.

MoBikeFed's response: We were formed to overturn mandatory sidepath laws for bicyclists

MoBikeFed was founded in 1993 for the primary purpose of overturning Missouri's "mandatory sidepath law".  This law, very similar to the type of legislation that Rep. Brattin is discussing in the article above, banned bicycles from state highways whenever an alternative path was available nearby. 

Bicyclist on Hwy 13
Bicyclist on Hwy 13

Mandatory sidepath laws swept the U.S. in the 1940s through the 1960s.  

Then, pretty much every state in the country realized that they are a bad idea, unenforceable, and bad for the public health.  Most every state has now repealed the mandatory sidepath law.

Thanks to the advocacy work of MoBikeFed, Missouri's statewide mandatory sidepath law was repealed in 1995.

Now, in the year 2013, we're preparing to travel 20 years into the past.

The Silver Lining: Complete Streets combined with Missouri's new $8 billion transportation funding proposal could be the real solution to this very real problem

Could something good come out of this? 

Proposals to ban bicycles on state highways in Missouri have become common in the past few years--first in St Charles County, then with Rep. Cauthorn's proposal in 2012 (which started as a bicycle ban but soon morphed into a "fluorescent vest" requirement for bicyclists), and now with multiple legislators discussing this issue in the 2013 Missouri General Assembly.

So--bicycles on state highways in an issue.

But are bicycle bans and mandatory sidepath laws--which amount to the same thing--the solution or just a band-aid?

Since the mid 2000s, MoBikeFed has been working with MoDOT to encourage them to adopt policies and procedures for designing and building roads and highways consistent with national Complete Streets standards.


MoDOT has often interpreted this to mean, "You must put sidewalks and bike lanes on every single road and highway in Missouri!"

But Complete Streets means nothing of the sort.  Complete Streets means looking comprehensively at:

  • Who is going to use the road--all users
  • What are the users' needs
  • What in the environment the road will be located in--urban, suburban, rural, hilly, flat, curvy, straight, and all other factors
  • What is the budget for this project
  • How can we make all these factors come together to best meet the needs of all users of the transportation system--including the 30% who cannot drive, the 20% who have some level of disability, and all the rest

With $8 billion in proposed transportation funding in Missouri at stake this year, the big question is going to be: Will this new funding meet the needs of all Missourians, or only a few?


TV News Transcript

  • This transcript was prepared from MoBikeFed from a recording of the news broadcast. The transcription may contain errors. Clips from this and all Fox 4/WDAF news programs may be obtained from MediaLibraryKC.com.

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