Regional Planning Commissions: Integrating bicycling, walking, and trails planning into committees and outreach

As MoDOT works to build support for a proposed $8 billion statewide transportation funding initiative--that will, for the first time, allow state transportation funding to be spent on bicycling, walking, and transit projects--MoBikeFed has worked with organizations across Missouri to evaluate the proposal and its ramifications. 

Missouri's Regional Planning Commissions map
Missouri's Regional Planning Commissions map

MoDOT's plan is that the vast majority of the $8 billion dollars will be prioritized and allocated by MoDOT's "Planning Partners" these are Regional Planning Commissions (RPCs) and Metropolitan Planning Organizations(MPOs) across Missouri.

The proposed new funding includes, for the first time, state transportation funding for bicycling, walking transit, ports, airports, and other transportation needs, alongside the traditional Missouri state transportation priorities--roads and bridges.

Making the transition from road and bridge-oriented transportation planning to comprehensive transportation planning involving biking, walking, trails, sidewalks, crosswalks, transit use, and many other uses and factors is going to be a major challenge for many of Missouri's RPCs--who have not dealt with these transportation modes extensively in the past.

One of the challenge is incorporating representatives from all of these different modes of transportation into the Transportation Advisory Committees (TACs) of each Regional Planning Commission.  RPCs may incorporate these different modes into their committees in several different ways--by incorporating new members directly into the TAC, by creating new committees or subcommittees or other ways.

But in all cases, much of the challenge will be in finding the members to participate in these committees and give the input, community connections, and perspective needed.

Below are our ideas for community organizations and agencies that may be helpful in joining these committees and providing this feedback.

Parks Departments

One of our top recommendations is to look to city and county parks staff and parks boards as one of the main sources of members of TACs that are interested in an experienced with bicycle and pedestrian issues.  These folks have the added benefit of being staff, so that their membership in the TAC and regular attendance at meetings can be part of their regular job responsibilities.

In addition to city and county parks departments, you should consider:

  • Representatives from Missouri State Parks that may have facilities or offices in your area
  • Representaties from the Missouri Department of Conservation
  • Representatives from any federal parks or areas in your region, such as National Forests, National Wildlife Areas, and so on
  • The Corps of Engineers--which often controls areas along rivers and lakes ideal for trail development.  The Corps has a natural interest in ports, which is an important and new element in the proposed funding.

Pedestrian Connections and Walkability

For the pedestrian elements, you might think about organizations or agencies that work on community health--county health departments, health foundations, major hospitals, health, or insurance corporations (sometimes they have community health group, wellness coordinator, diabetes coordinator, or similar), neighborhood groups or associations, downtown associations or chambers of commerce, and similar organizations in your area.

You might look at retirement groups--many retired folks walk a lot in the community, and they might have  community interest and time to serve on a committee as well as any groups that work to meet the needs of low income citizens or elderly citizens, who rely disproportionately on walking and transit to meet their transportation needs.

Are there transit agencies, advocacy groups, or groups representing people who commonly use transit in your area? These groups are often very aligned with pedestrian issues in the community, since transit users nearly always walk or bicycle at one or both ends of their trips.

Keep in mind that transit agencies in rural areas are diverse and not always thought of as 'public transit' groups.  On-demand services like OATS, taxis, shuttle services, and the like are all transit organizations and may have the knowledge and experience you need.

Disabilities groups are another prime source of potential members and are definitely an interest area that should be represented on TAC.  People with disabilities often rely on walking and transit far more to meet their daily transportation needs and are often keenly aware of deficiencies in the current transportation system for pedestrians.

Contacting the Governor's Council on Disabilities representative from your area may be helpful, and a google search for disabilities services in cities in your region is often productive.

General

You might ask local clubs and community groups like Rotary, Optimist, Chamber of Commerce, local or regional tourism commissions, and the like if they happen to have members who are community-oriented and particularly interested in walking and biking.

You might think about any environmental or sustainability groups in your area--often they have a strong interest in sustainable transportation.

Colleges and universities often have both an interest in environmental issues and sustainability as well as a practical interest in biking and walking because many students use those forms of transportation. 

Do local PTAs, school districts, or school board have an interest in students walking and biking to school, or an organized program to identify walking routes to schools?

A number of communities in your region probably received MoDOT Safe Routes to School grants during the time that program was actively giving grants..  I'm not sure who the primary contact for those was, but someone involved in those grants would be a prime candidate for the committee.  Your local MoDOT District should be able to identify grant recipients.  All of those grants involved organizations and individuals interested in promoting walking and bicycling in their communities.

On Road Bicycling

Local bicycle clubs, riding groups, and bicycle business owners are the most knowledgeable organized groups that know best existing routes, most pressing needs and problems, and so on.  They may or may not be able to provide a representative who can be on TAC or attend meetings regularly, but even if they can't, they may know who in city or county government, or in some agency or business, is knowledgeable about the issues, well connected with the local bicycling community, and who does have time to serve.

MoBikeFed can help you contact local bicyclists, bicycling-related organizations, and bicycle-related businesses in your communities.

MoBikeFed Members and Supporters

The Missouri Bicycle and Pedestrian Federation has members and supporters in every Missouri Regional Planning Commission and Metropolitan Planning Organization. We can contact our members and supporters within your region or within smaller areas of interest like cities and counties in order to distribute information or requests for feedback or help with your planning initiatives.

We can also help you identify key contacts in the area's bicycling, walking, running, and trails community who may be able to best help with your efforts and outreach.

If you would like help in reaching out to our members and supporters, just contact director [at] mobikefed.org or call 816-695-6736.

For more information and ideas for Missouri Regional Planning Commissions and Metropolitan Planning Organizations in better incorporating bicycling and walking into your region's plans and projects, visit our RPC/MPO page.

Share this:

Want better bicycling and walking in Missouri?
We rely on the support of members like you.  Please join, renew, or donate today.