2017 Legislative Session: Summary of bills affecting bicycling, walking, and trails

We are just in the third week of Missouri's 2017

legislative session, and already we have seen a number of bills introduced that are important to people in Missouri who walk, bicycle, and use trails.

Another major issue, returning for 2017, is state transportation funding. Missouri's dramatic underinvestment in transit, walking, and bicycling harms the ability of our communities, large and small, to compete in today's global marketplace--but all proposed solutions address highway funding only.

Summary of 2017 pedestrian, bicycle, and trails-related bills

Below is a summary of all pedestrian bicycle, and trails-related bills currently in play in the Missouri House and Senate. Bookmark this page--it will be continually updated as the 2017 Legislative Session progresses.

Statewide Funding for Walking, Bicycling, and Transit

A major issue in 2017, and a major concern of our members, is state transportation funding. In the news we hear about a chronic shortfall in road and highway funds for MoDOT.

But the shortfall in funding for pedestrian, bicycle and public transportation used by millions of Missourians is even worse: Missouri has never had a dedicated source of state transportation funding for bicycling and walking, and public transit funding is among the lowest in the nation.

Missouri's dramatic underinvestment in transit, walking, and bicycling harms the ability of our communities, large and small, to compete in today's global marketplace--but too many of the proposed solutions address highway funding only. 

Funding--particularly lack of funding for any non-highway modes--is a big issue. We have detailed funding-related bills on a separate page.

Hands Free Device Usage/Texting and Electronic Messaging While Driving/Distracted Driving

Missouri is now one of just four states that allows drivers to text while driving. Texting while driving and other similar electronic distractions now cause a disproportionate amount of injuries and fatalities on the road. People who walk and bicycle take on a disproportionate share of those injuries, and for that reason we support the current effort in Missouri to join the 46 U.S. states that restrict texting while driving and support hands-free use of cell phones and other electronic devices while driving.

A statewide coalition of groups interested in improving road and highway safety, including the Missouri Bicycle & Pedestrian Federation, has been working to draft and build support for this legislation this year. HB312, sponsored by Rep. Nate  Walker of Kirksville, contains the texted drafted and supported by this statewide coalition.

This issue continues to garner strong interest, and several variant bills have been introduced by several Senators and Representatives from across the state. Almost any of these proposals will improve safety for Missourians who use our roads and streets.

This issue has been identified by our members as a top priority

  • HB312 (Representative Walker) - SUPPORT (preferred version)

  • HB546 (Representative Hansen) - SUPPORT

  • SB165 (Senator Schupp) - SUPPORT

  • HB378 (Representative Brown) - SUPPORT

  • HB284 (Representative Brown) - SUPPORT

  • SB253 (Senator Nasheed) - SUPPORT

Dangerous drivers

A few bad and dangerous drivers contribute disproportionately to the toll of injuries and fatalities on our roads. This issue affects Missourians who drive, walk, bicycle, or use our public road system in any way. Working with motorcycle safety advocates, who have successfully pursued a similar strategy in other states across the country, we strongly support a proposal to increase penalties for dangerous drivers who fail to yield the right of way, when that dangerous driving leads to injury or death. Noteworthy is the requirement for a driver improvement program for drivers involved in a fatality. These programs are proven to improve driver behavior.

This issue has been identified by our members as a top priority

  • HB1813 (Representative Cornejo)  - SUPPORT - Increases the penalties and license suspension periods for the offense of failing to yield the right-of-way; requires driver-improvement program for drivers involved in a fatality

Driver education

  • HB534 - Higdon, Galen - SUPPORT - Requires driver's education for all driver's license applicants who have never held a driver's license
  • HJR 22 - Higdon, Galen (011) - Proposes a constitutional amendment to allow an additional $1 license fee to go to the "Driver's Education Training Fund"

    Comment: Missouri moved away from requiring driver's ed for new drivers some years ago, replacing the driver's ed requirement with a graduated driver license system.  Many schools still offer driver's ed, and many students still take it, but many do not.

    Research has shown the graduated driver license system to be more effective than driver's ed alone in promoting safe driving among young drivers.  But this leaves a real gap in our training system for young drivers, as many never go through a course of intensive learning of the rules of the road or guided driving practice.

Leaving the Scene of a Collision

  • HB178 - Reiboldt, Bill - SUPPORT - Creates a new penalty for persons who leave the scene of an accident when a death has occurred

Traffic fines; red light cameras

  • HB275 - Spencer, Bryan - INFORMATION ONLY - Prohibits the use of automated traffic enforcement systems, and requires any political subdivision to complete or terminate any automated traffic enforcement contract within one year

Comment: We have not adopted a position for or against these particular bills.  In general we support legislation that improves safety for all road users. Enforcement is an important part of that effort.  Whether we support, oppose, or remain neutral on these bills depends very much on the details of the proposals as they move forward.

Here are the issues of concern on these bills: Concern about automated traffic enforcement and arbitrary enforcement of traffic laws to generate funds for Missouri cities have been high visibility statewide and national issues.  These bills are intended to reign in excesses in these areas.

It is important that the safety of Missourians who drive, walk, and bicycle is considered as these measures move forward. The right type of enforcement of traffic laws has been shown to have a dramatic effect on driver behavior.  This is one of the few interventions that changes driver behavior.

We would like to see the General Assembly adopt an approach that prioritizes both safety on our roadways and respect for individual rights.
  For the purposes of improving traffic safety and driver behavior, high fines and jail sentences are very rarely required. Instead, positive feedback, educational interventions for poor drivers, and fines or penalties proportionate to income (particularly for low income individuals) can be just as effective if not more so.

Bicycle & Pedestrian Day at the Capitol April 10th - Please join us!

Be part of the conversation! Our annual Bicycle & Pedestrian Day at the Capitol is April 10th, 2017.  Please plan to join us and talk with your own legislators about these issues and much more!

 

Working to create a world-class transportation system for walking and bicycling and improve safety for all who use our states roads--including people who walk and bicycle--is a key goal of our Vision for Bicycling and Walking in Missouri.

Our work with the Missouri General Assembly and our annual Legislative Platform are an important in helping us reaching those goals. Between 1995 and 2016, new fewer than fifty-two of the proposals that we have supported or opposed in our Legislative Platform have been approved or defeated, respectively.

Your ongoing membership and generous financial support help turn our Vision into reality, and turn our Legislative Platform into law!

 

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