Missouri Rep introduces bill to require bicyclists to hold insurance

UPDATE: We received news from our contact in Lewis County, Rep. Redmon's constituent Jake DeCoster, who talked with Rep. Redmon again and confirmed that Rep. Redmon has filed an amendment to HB 115 that will completely remove the bicycle insurance requirement. 

It is still helpful to continue to contact YOUR OWN Missouri legislators and ask them to support bicycling and oppose any measures that might restrict or discourage bicycling.  See contact info & sample message at the end of this article.

UPDATE JAN 26, 2015: The amendment to remove the bicycle insurance requirement still has not been filed.  Our Board and Legislative Committee members are visiting Jefferson City this week for legislative visits; we'll stop by Rep. Redmon's office for an update on the situation. In the meanwhile, contacting your own representative to let him or her know that you oppose this bill is still VERY helpful.

Rep. Craig Redmon of Canton has introduced a bill requiring all bicyclists and non-motor vehicles such as horse-drawn buggies using Missouri state highways to carry liability insurance.

The 2015 Missouri State legislative session is just getting warmed up
The 2015 Missouri State legislative session is just getting warmed up

With bills introduced in each of the past several years to ban bicycling on state highways, and more recently to remove bicycling from a state transportation funding proposal, the idea of an insurance requirement for bicyclists is not sitting well with Missouri bicyclists.  Whether intended or not, if this bill passes it will have the effect of restricting Missouri bicyclists' access to the roads and routes they need. 

With over 34,000 miles on its state highway system, Missouri cyclists can't get far within their communities or around the state without regularly riding some distance on state highways--and that means this new requirement would apply to essentially all Missouri bicyclists if it passes.

Some of the problems with requiring insurance for cyclists:

  • It adds more roadblocks to getting people on bikes.
     
  • It will harm those of low income who already can’t insure a vehicle.
     
  • Particularly at risk will be those in low income categories who rely on bicycling for basic transportation needs but don't have access to the insurance system.
     
  • It is unenforcable.  Motor vehicle insurance requirements work because the requirements can be tied to motor vehicle licensing and driver licensing.  But the right to move by human power isn't subject to licensing or registration.
     
  • Though unenforceable in any realistic sense, it will allow law enforcement harassment of cyclists, creating a pretext for stopping and ticketing a cyclist under almost any circumstance.
     
  • To become enforceable, it would require a system of insurance certificates, and requirement for carrying a current insurance certificate whenever cycling, similar to the insurance requirement for motor vehicles.
     
  • Requiring documentation and certificates for an activity as common and simple as bicycling isn't realistic to implement, but more important, puts up unnecessary and unhelpful barriers to what should be a simple, everyday activity.

Members of MoBikeFed's Advisory Commission and Legislative Committee have been studying this legislative proposal and have been in contact with Rep. Redmon.  We are hopeful that he will amend the bill to remove the insurance requirement for bicyclists.

UPDATE (7 Jan 2015): Rep. Redmon has indicated that he definitely plans to file an amended version of the bill that removes bicycles from the insurance proposal. Rep. Redmon indicates that the main purpose of the bill--and what will remain--is to require insurance for horse-drawn buggies on state highways.

So at this time, please DO NOT contact Rep. Redmon to oppose HB 115. After the outreach contacts to him by our local partners in Rep Redmon's district about this issue, Rep. Redmon has indicated that he will remove the bicycle requirements from the bill altogether. We believe that is his intention and are now waiting to see the updated text of the bill--which we hope will allay our concerns completely.

We believe that further contact of Rep. Redmon will be counterproductive at this point, because he does now understand the issues involved and has agreed to change the language to remove the bicycle insurance requirement. He has already heard from a good number of cyclists opposed to the measure.

How you can help

If you would like to register your opposition to HB 115, please contact your own Missouri State Representative and ask him or her to:

  • Oppose HB 115 in its current form
     
  • Oppose any similar requirement for insurance coverage for bicyclists as burdensome and counterproductive
     
  • Oppose any efforts to ban or restrict bicycling on Missouri roads
     
  • Support the bicycle and pedestrian legislation supported by MoBikeFed and our statewide allies this year, including a new anti-harassment law and important updates to Missouri's bicycle and pedestrian law.

Sample/editable letter to your Missouri state rep here.

Next steps:

 

One of the primary goals of MoBikeFed's Vision for Bicycling and Walking in Missouri is to work for better laws in Missouri to improve conditions for bicycling and walking, encourage more Missourians to bicycle and walk more often, improve safety, and create a world-class bicycle and pedestrian system throughout Missouri.  We also actively work to oppose bills that work against those goals.

We have an extensive list of current legislative goals and past legislative accomplishments.

Your membership and generous financial support help make our Vision become reality!

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