Lee's Summit passes comprehensive bicycle law update; anti-harassment law; 4-foot passing law; improved 'keep right' law, dead red, equipment regulations

Last week the Lee's Summit City Council passed a major update to the city's bicycle code.  The updates reflect many of the best-practice recommendations of MoBikeFed, BikeWalkKC, and other local and national bicycle groups. 

The code update is one end result of years of work and coalition building by the Lee's Summit Livable Streets Advisory Board, which has been working steadily to improve Lee's Summit's policies, projects, and ordinances to improve the city for bicycling and walking.

Major points of Lee's Summit's bicycle code update:

  • Strong anti-harassment provision - this provision prohibits throwing things at cyclists and pedestrians, shouting or honking in order to threaten, frighten, or intimidate, and putting cyclists and pedestrians in fear of danger or risk of injury or death(ie, by swerving close). Lee's Summit is the sixth community in Missouri to pass an anti-harassment law to protect bicyclists and pedestrians.  MoBikeFed and our allies are working towards passage of a statewide anti-harassment law and encouraging commmunities across Missouri to pass anti-harassment laws to help build momentum for the statewide change.  If you would like to work for passage of an anti-harassment law in your community, check our list of information and sample ordinances here.
     
  • Safe passing of bicyclists; four foot minimum passing distance - the first city in Missouri (to our knowledge) to pass a safe passing law that includes a specific minimum passing distance.  State law, passed at the instigation of MoBikeFed and our allies in 2005, requires safe passing distance but the minimum distance provision in the state law was stripped out at the request of insurance industry lobbyists. Working to add a minimum distance provision to our safe passing law is a priority in MoBikeFed's legislative platform.
     
  • Dead read law for bicyclists and motorcyclists - bicyclists and motorcyclists may ride through a red light after stopping and waiting if the light has apparently failed to detect the rider and traffic is clear on the cross street.  This provision mirrors Missouri statute 304.285, passed in 2009 at the instigation of MoBikeFed and our allies.
     
  • Improved "ride right" law for bicyclists - traditional U.S. cycle laws require cyclists to ride as far right as practicable or even in some cases, as far right as possible.  Missouri state law improves that by requiring cyclists to ride as far right as safe.  Lee's Summit's new law follows the precedent of Ferguson, MO, and other cities across the U.S. by allowing cyclists to ride in the center of the right lane or to the right of the roadway, at the cyclist's discretion.  This creates clear language allowing cyclists to follow nationally recommended best practices, which include using the full lane when the lane is too narrow to share between the cyclist and motorist--which is the case for by far the majority of Missouri roads.  Improving Missouri state's ride right requirement is a plank on MoBikeFed's statewide legislative platform.
     
  • Improved and modernized equipment requi rements for bicycles - allowing, for example, lights or reflectors for front, rear, and side visibility rather than requiring side/rear reflectors as the old law does, and allowing leeway in braking mechanisms as long the bicycle can be safely stopped. Modernizing Missouri state bicycle equipment requirements is a plank on MoBikeFed's statewide legislative platform and the Lee's Summit ordinance implements many of the specific recommendations in our platform.
The improved bicycle and pedestrian ordinances help cement Lee's Summit's reputation as one of the leading cities in Missouri working to improve bicycle and pedestrian access and safety as a way of improving the livability and quality of life in the city.
 
Read the full text of Lee's Summit's bicycle code update here (PDF) - it includes a summary, the full text, and a text showing changes made to the previous city code.

How Lee's Summit citizens created support for comprehensive change--and how your city can do the same

The comprehensive bike/ped law reform is just one of the major accomplishments of the Lee's Summit Livable Streets Advisory Board.  The Board has been working diligently for years to develop consensus and broad-based political support for bicycle and pedestrian improvements across the city. 
Dr Ed Kraemer, Lee's Summit cyclist and advocate
Dr Ed Kraemer, Lee's Summit cyclist and advocate
 
 
 
Lee's Summit's citizen-based approach to creating a more bikable, walkable city is an excellent model for other cities around Missouri to follow. It requires a good deal of work to create broad-based consensus on priorities and direction up front, but the cumulative results over time have been long lasting and truly impressive.  The Livable Streets Advisory Board is changing the culture of Lee's Summit, slowly but surely.
 
Dr. Ed Kraemer, a citizen advocate who played a key role in starting the Lee's Summit Livable Streets Advisory Board, summarized the process that led to the recent adoption of the new bicycle ordinance:
 
  • The Livable Streets Advisory Board asked the Police Department, among many other organizations, if it could be of assistance in applicable areas of shared interest.  
  • Lee's Summit Police Department in turn asked the Livable Streets Advisory Board to review any bicycle-related ordinances and recommend revisions as appropriate.
  • LSAB did so.
  • LSPD and the legal department agreed with the proposed changes
  • City staff (Michael Park, staff liaison to LSAB) and LSPD presented the proposed changes to the LS Public Safety Advisory Board, which supported the changes. 
  • City Staff and LSPD presented the proposed changes to the Public Works Committee of the City Council, which recommended adoption of the proposed changes by the full Council.
  • On Thursday, Oct 2, The City Council unanimously approved the proposed changes.

Read more about how Lee's Summit citizen advocates worked for passage of the city's Complete Streets Policy on MoBikeFed's Advocacy 101 page.

 

Working for safer streets for bicycling and walking is one of the four primary goals of MoBikeFed's Vision for Bicycling and Walking in Missouri.  Building a movement in support of better bicycling and walking across Missouri is another of our primary goals--and that is one reason we want you to know about Lee's Summit's work to improve the city for cycling; part of building a movement is to enable communities across Missouri to learn from each other and promote best practices for bicycling and walking across Missouri.

Your membership and generous financial support helps turn our Vision into reality!

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