Lack of safe places to walk and bicycle dramatically impacts health in rural Missouri communities: A call to action

The systematic dis-investment in safe places to walk and bicycle has had a tremendous impact on the health of the 50% of Missourians who live in communities in rural and outstate Missouri.

We have been talking about this health and investment disparity for years.   But this year, I dug into the data from the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services, the U.S. Census, and other data sources to really show, definitively and through the data, that rural and outstate Missouri realliy does have lower access to safe places to walk and bicycle, and that really does have devastating health effects on these communities.

This is a clarion call to leaders and politicians in Missouri, to citizens, and to groups like ours that advocate for more, better, safer places to walk and bicycle: Rural Missouri wants and needs better, safer places to walk and bicycle.

Slides, notes, and data below are from a session at the National Bike Summit in Washington DC in March, 2016. This article summarizes that presentation, which can be downloaded as a powerpoint file or PDF file. Notes in the powerpoint file indicate the source of data and charts/maps, photos credits, and so on for each slide.

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ALERT: Will bike/ped be included on the Champ Clark Bridge replacement, crossing Mississippi River near Louisiana?

MoDOT is replacing the Champ Clark Bridge over the Mississippi River.  It is the only river crossing between Hannibal MO & Alton IL in the St Louis metro area. Current plans are for wide shoulders for the new bridge, but no sidewalk or pedestrian accommodation.

As with other river bridges in Missouri, MoDOT and IDOT will be more willing to include good, safe bicycle and pedestrian accommodations on this bridge if the public speaks up and clearly asks for them.

Major river bridges like this are vital infrastructure that affects the availability of bicycling and walking routes in the nearby cities, in the region around the bridge, and across the state. Whether you live, work, or vacation in the area--or would like to!--your voice is a welcome part of this conversation.

If you would like to contact MoDOT, please ask them to make sure that the bridge is accessible to people who bicycle AND walk.

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Resources for planning Missouri bicycle and trails routes and trips

A question we are commonly asked: How can I find existing or planned bicycle routes and trails around Missouri?

Whether you are planning a bicycle tour, are going on a vacation where you want to find new and interesting places to ride, or just want to find places to bicycle or trails in or near your hometown, these resources will help.

Are you planning bicycle facilities or routes in your city or region?  These resources will be helpful for that purpose as well.

We are fortunate to live at a time when bicycle routes, trails, planning, and construction is blossoming across Missouri. We have more good route choices than ever. But it also means that you have to look at a lot of different resources to get a full picture of what is going on.

Bicycle Route & Touring Maps

A few mapping resources have now done a lot of the work of compiling various bicycle route, trail, non-motorized usage, and motor vehicle usage patterns in order to create online bicycle maps and bicycle route wayfinding systems. These show at least some trails and bicycle routes, and their bicycle wayfinding feature usually gives you at least a decent first-draft of a route.

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