2015 MoBikeFed Legislative Platform released for comment

Each year, MoBikeFed works with its allies across the state to develop a legislative platform. We discuss it extensively in our Legislative Committee, Advisory Commission, and Board. Because we are a member-driven organization, we also ask our members and supporters--what do you think?

Missouri Delegation with members of Congress at the National Bike Summit
Missouri Delegation with members of Congress at the National Bike Summit

Below is a summary of our 2015 platform.  Read the full platform here. Leave your thoughts and comments in the comment section below, or use our comment form.

Keep in mind that "politics is the art of the possible"--meaning that our top legislative priorities at any given time are a combination of what our members and MoBikeFed leadership would like to achieve at any given time, tempered by a realistic assessment of what we can actually achieve given the current legislative climate in Jefferson City and in consideration of our own, always limited, advocacy resources.  Your membership and support helps us expand our legislative capacity!

Highest 2015 Priorities

  • Supporting the Rock Island Trail: Work is underway to transfer the Rock Island Trail, owned by Ameren, to Missouri State Parks for use as a statewide trail. This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to create an statewide trails system that will be nationally and internationally prominent and will create steady, sustainable economic impact to communities across the state. 
     
  • 2015 Bicycle and Pedestrian Safety Bill:
    • Ban harassment, intimidation, and throwing things at pedestrians and bicyclists: Pedestrians, bicyclists, and people with disabilities report harassment, intimidation, and thrown objects as among their top issues.  When these things happen, they are dangerous and also very discouraging. Six Missouri cities have now pioneered an anti-harassment approach that respects Missourians' first amendment rights while still giving people who walk, bicycle, and/or have a disability significant protection.
       
    • Update Definitions for "Pedestrian" and "Bicyclist": Missouri's definition of 'bicycle' is out of date and state statute has no real definition of the word 'pedestrian'. We propose modernized definitions of the terms "bicycle" and "pedestrian," including clear language clarifying the disabled people using wheelchairs, motorized wheelchairs, and other assistive devices have the full protection the law offers to all other pedestrians.
       
    • Update/modernize bicycle equipment regulations: Missouri's regulations for bicycle reflectors, lights, brakes, and other equipment haven't been updated in 30 years or so.  For example, LED bike lights—the most commonly used type of bicycle light today--were invented long after Missouri's law was written. Pedal reflectors are still required, even though they are proven ineffective and many bicycles lack a place to mount them.
       
    • Require Safe Passing of Bicyclists and Pedestrians: Missouri's safe passing law was adopted in 2005.  However, it does not include a minimum distance for passing cyclists, which many other states now have.  It also does not protect pedestrians, who are allowed by law to walk along the tens of thousands of miles of roads in Missouri without sidewalks. The new proposal will require motorists to change lanes to pass when possible, leave a minimum distance of four feet otherwise, and operate safely whenever passing.
       
  • No Bicycle Ban: Bicycle ban legislation should not be introduced, or if introduced, should not receive a hearing.  This includes plans to ban bicyclists from any public roads, highways, or streets in Missouri, or bans bicyclists from public roads while requiring them to use a parallel trail or 'sidepath.' Such legislation has been introduced and defeated in several recent legislative sessions.
     
  • No Bicyclist Liability Insurance Requirement: In 2015, a Missouri representative introduced a bill to require bicyclists and other nonmotorized users to hold liability insurance before operating on Missouri state roads and highways.  This proposal is impractical, unenforceable, vague, and discriminatory against those who travel by human power. Such insurance is already held by some people but unobtainable or impractical for many others. It will amount to banning many bicyclists from state roads and highways indiscriminate harassment of cyclists who have been lawful users of our state highway system since the invention of the bicycle over 100 years ago.

    Note: Rep. Redmon promised to amend his bill to remove the bicycle insurance requirement, but as of January 26th, 2015, we have not seen the amended version of the bill.
     
  • Increased penalties for dangerous drivers who fail to yield and then injure or kill: We support SB 267 (Sen Schaefer, 2015), which increases penalties for drivers who fail to yield and then injure or kill.  It includes required driver license suspension for those who serious injury or kill.  It includes mandatory driver improvement program for drivers who kill, before their driving privileges are reinstated.  This bill implements portions of the “Safe Streets” agenda, which we have supported for many years (see below).
     
  • Fund a portion of Missouri’s important bicycle and pedestrian transportation needs  through an appropriation from the state’s general budget funds: Currently no state dollars go towards Missouri’s bicycle and pedestrian needs.  In its recent round of statewide outreach and planning, MoDOT identified bicycle and pedestrian needs as an important part of one their areas of emphasis—because Missouri citizens from across the state had requested it, repeatedly. Missouri’s Bicycle Friendly State ranking suffers every year because other states have specific state funds dedicated to bike/ped while Missouri has none. We ask MoDOT to include a significant amount of funding for the state’s bicycle and pedestrian needs in it annual budget request and ask our state legislators to support it.  Suggested amount: $10 million annually.

Preparation for future years

These items are ones that we fully support and that our Legislative Committee supports.  However, they are not quite ready to move forward in 2015 and/or are just slightly lower in priority, placing them outside our realistic advocacy capacity for this year, given and already very full advocacy agenda.

  • Rewrite and modernize Missouri's basic bicycle law
  • Protect Vulnerable Road Users

MoBikeFed will supportive other organizations or help take advantage of any legislative opportunities on these issues

  • Anti-Texting: Expand the current ban on texting while operating a vehicle.  Currently the texting ban applies to young drivers only.  The proposal is to expand the texting ban to all drivers.
     
  • Anti-distracted driving: Distracted driving is one of the top causes of injuries and deaths on our roads and highways.  
     
  • Problems with "No Passing on Solid Yellow": A proposed "no passing" law will force motorists to pass bicyclists unsafely (or just not pass at all) whenever there is a solid yellow "no passing" line. Before this legislation moves forward we want to change this to make it more bicycle friendly.  There are many locations properly marked "no passing" for motor vehicles where it is unsafe to pass a vehicle moving at the speed limit but safe to pass a slower-moving vehicle like a bicycle or tractor.  The new Missouri passing zone law can and should reflect this reality and should not force or encourage unsafe passing of bicyclists by motorists.(Law proposed by other groups which MoBikeFed would support with the suggested changes or oppose if those changes are not made.)

Other important/timely issues

  • Adoption of “no pursuit” or very restricted pursuit policies by law enforcement departments across Missouri: When a police officer drives in hot pursuit of a fleeing vehicle, these police chases far too often end in injury or death of innocent bystanders and law enforcement officers. One in four police pursuits ends in a crash. Law abiding citizens who walk and bicycle experience a disproportionate amount of the danger associated with these unnecessary and very hazardous police chases. Experience of law enforcement departments across the country shows that as soon as law enforcement ends the hot pursuit, fleeing motorists immediately cease fast and dangerous driving that makes them a danger to the general public. Furthermore, law enforcement officers can apprehend the criminals at a later time using far safer methods.  The danger of the hot pursuit itself is far, far greater than the allowing the suspect to remain at large for a short period of time in the overwhelming majority of cases. Cities such as Kansas City that have adopted restrictive pursuit policies have found them very effective. PursuitWatch.com has extensive information and research on this issue.

    Victims of dangerous police pursuits in Missouri include Toni Sena (wife of long-time MoBikeFed member and supporter Larry Denny), Independence teen cyclist Christopher Cooper, and MoBikeFed member & volunteer Chuong Doan and his wife. Friends and relatives of Sena in the bicycling community led the effort to reform and improve the Kansas City Police Department's pursuit policy in 2004.

Full Legislative Platform and Previous MoBikeFed Legislative Platform Planks that have become law or policy

Between 1995 and 2014, new fewer than forty-four of the proposals that we have supported or opposed have been approved or defeated, respectively.

That includes thirty-five Legislative Platform planks, resolutions or proclamations have been passed, signed, or otherwise approved or passed into law or policy.

It also includes defeat of nine pieces of poorly conceived or poorly written legislation--and success stopping a bad bill is often just as important as passing a good one. The bills we have stopped include legislation that would have banned bicyclists from all state highways, required cyclists to wear reflective vests, required motorists to pass within the lane regardless of danger, required cyclists to ride against traffic, banned bicyclists and pedestrian from key trails, stopped use of any state transportation funding for bicycling, and others.

Of platform planks passed and bad legislation defeated, 40 of 44 of these have been accomplished since 2005, when we first hired a lobbyist to work on behalf of bicyclists and pedestrians during the legislation session in Jefferson City. 

The lobbyist is the most effective single thing we have ever done to improve our effectiveness as statewide bicycle advocates—and your membership and support makes his continued, extremely valuable work happen.  His work has dramatically impacted and improved every one of the four major objectives of MoBikeFed's Vision for Bicycling and Walking in Missouri.

Click here to see the full list of completed Platform Planks and other legislative successes from 1995 to the present.

Click here to see the full 2015 Legislative Platform.

Note that law and policy is never made in a vacuum. On many of these issues, the Missouri Bicycle & Pedestrian Federation is but one of many voices asking for change. On other issues--particularly those of interest mainly to bicyclists & pedestrians--MoBikeFed has played a leading role. Regardless, no legislation has ever been passed without a huge amount of cooperation and support from many individuals, organizations, clubs, and elected officials work together. Many thanks to all of them for working together to make Missouri a better, safer place to walk and bicycle.

Hiring our Governmental Affairs Representative in Jefferson City in 2005 was the most effective single thing we have ever done to improve our effectiveness as statewide bicycle advocates—and your membership and support makes his continued, extremely valuable work happen.  His work has dramatically impacted and improved every one of the four major objectives of MoBikeFed's Vision for Bicycling and Walking in Missouri.

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