Biking, hiking advocates oppose effort to allow ATVS, golf carts on Katy Trail - Columbia Daily Tribune | Columbia Missouri: Politics

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A bill in the Missouri General Assembly that would allow limited use of all-terrain vehicles and golf carts on the Katy Trail has drawn opposition from bicycle and hiking enthusiasts.

House Bill 2047, introduced by state Rep. Jay Houghton, R-Martinsburg, would allow ATVs and golf carts on the 240-mile Katy Trail on the first and third Wednesdays of the month if operated by someone with a disability or age 55 or older. The vehicles’ speed would be limited to 15 mph.

The bill has had a hearing in the House Conservation and Natural Resources Committee.

“It’s my belief that the aging population and the disabled will benefit from access to the trail” on ATVs and golf carts, Houghton said. He said he understands why some people might not like the idea.

The Missouri Department of Natural Resources prohibits motorized equipment on the trail except for official and emergency vehicles. Electrically assisted pedal-powered bicycles and tricycles are allowed, with a maximum speed of 20 mph, as are motorized wheelchairs and scooters. Horses are permitted on some sections of the trail.

Rachel Ruhlen of Columbia is president of the Missouri Bicycle and Pedestrian Federation. She said ATVs and golf carts on the trail would ruin a Missouri treasure and diminish tourism dollars.

“The trail is where we go to get away from motorized vehicles,” Ruhlen said.

MoBikeFed comment: MoBikeFed firmly opposes this bill. As Rachel explains in the article, people with disabilities already have access to the trail--in fact, disabilities access is REQUIRED by federal law.

So what is the purpose of this bill, if not to create access for people with disabilities? Is it to break down the very protections that make the Katy Trail valuable to its users?