Advocacy Platform

This page outlines the very top priorities of the Missouri Bicycle Federation's platform for legislation and issues related to bicycling in Missouri.

[DRAFT 2017 Platform - for Discussion & Feedback]

This platform was developed and proposed by the Missouri Bicycle & Pedestrian Federation Board of Directors and Legislative Committee, with much input from the Federation's Advisory Commission, Federation members, and walking, bicycling, running, and trails organizations around the state.

This is a living document, always a "draft," and will continue to grow and evolve. Comments are welcome at any time--send to director [at] mobikefed.org.

2017 Priorities

Note: Our members helped us set these priorities by taking periodic legislative priority surveys to give us feedback on the draft priority list. The results of a recent survey give a great overview of our members' legislative priorities.

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, our allies across the state, 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 2017 Priorities

  • 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 ATVs on the Katy Trail or other multi-use trails across Missouri. We support reasonable efforts to increase the accessibility of treasures like the Katy and Rock Island Trails to everyone, at all levels of ability. But we strongly oppose introduction of motorized vehicles to these natural environments. The absence of motor vehicles in these specially designated areas is one of the most important features that makes them valuable and attractive--both to Missourians and to hundreds of thousands of out-of-state visitors annually.
  • Fund bicycling, walking, and transit on an equal footing with all other state transportation needs: 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.
  • 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. Missouri currently has a restriction on texting while driving, but it applies only to drivers 21 years of age and younger.
  • Increased penalties for dangerous drivers who fail to yield and then injure or kill: We support proposals to increase penalties for drivers who fail to yield and then injure or kill,  including required driver license suspension for those who serious injury or kill.  The proposal 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).
  • Oppose onerous requirements directed towards bicyclists, such as required safety flags or required visibility attire. To improve safety for all road users we support a reasonable update and modernization of bicycle equipment regulations and a new emphasis on and funding for safety education for bicyclists and for motorists interacting with bicyclists, which follows national best practices.
  • Support the Rock Island Trail and statewide, connected Katy/Rock Island Trail Network: 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. We strongly support the railbanking of the Rock Island Corridor, conversion of the corridor to a trail, connection of the new trail to the existing Katy Trail and to nearby communities, and finding local, state, federal, and private funding to build the trail into a major statewide resource and tourism attraction.

    In general, we strongly support the national railbanking system. We support railbanking of any unused rail corridors in Missouri to trails in order to preserve the corridors intact for future use and to reap the economic and community benefits of trail use in the interim.

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 this year 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.

  • Anti-harassment:
    • 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. Eight 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.  This is packaged with the anti-harassment provision to ensure that the anti-harassment provisions apply to all people walking and bicycling in Missouri, including those with disabilities who may be traveling with an assistive device.
       
  • 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. Short term, we would like to see Missouri add a minimum passing distance to the current safe passing of bicyclists status. Long term, we support proposal that will require motorists to change lanes to pass when possible, leave a minimum distance of four feet otherwise, and operate safely whenever passing either pedestrians or bicyclists.
  • Rewrite and modernize Missouri's basic bicycle law: Missouri's basic bicycle law is written with a confusing 'backwards' logic, where the main law is stated with exceptions. However, the main law applies only about 10% of the time and the exceptions apply 90% of the time.  The law also includes confusing double negative language.

    We proposed to re-write the law in accordance with current national best and safest practices for bicycling, and state the law in a clear and straightforward way.
  • Protect Vulnerable Road Users: A person who operates a motor vehicle in a careless or distracted manner and causes serious physical injury or death to a vulnerable road user shall be guilty of infliction of serious physical injury or death to a vulnerable user. This law allows moderate penalties to can be assessed against drivers who careless or inattention causes injury or death, but for whom more serious felony-level penalties are not appropriate.
  • Oppose "right turn on red with no stop" bill: Proposals introduced in 2015 and 2016 would allow motorists make a right turn at a red light to slow but not stop while making the right turn. This creates an extremely dangerous situation for pedestrians crossing with the green light. Motorists who slowly drive through a right turn on red have their attention focused to the left, where oncoming traffic has the green light.  This causes the motorists to overlook pedestrians crossing with the green light/walk signal who are coming from the right.  A very important reason for requiring the complete stop before making the right turn on red is to give motorists the time to fully evaluate the situation and look for pedestrians, vehicles, and hazards that may be approaching from various directions, rather than just focusing on the single most common hazard (vehicles coming from the left).

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

  • Texting and Electronic Messaging While Driving: 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.
     
  • No Distracted Driving: Distracted driving is one of the top causes of injuries and deaths on our roads and highways.  
     
  • 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.

Keep in mind that this page is a summary, including only the top items likely to come under consideration this year. You can view the fully detailed Legislative Platform for this year and previous years by following the links at the end of this message.

Previous MoBikeFed Legislative Platform Planks that have become law or policy

Between 1995 and 2016, new fewer than fifty-two of the proposals that we have supported or opposed have been approved or defeated, respectively.

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

It also includes defeat of thirteen 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, 47 of 52 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.

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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