Bike/ped provisions come within a whisker's breadth of passage on last day of 2003 Missouri legislative session

The Missouri Senate just had floor debate & two votes on House Bill 327, which had been amended by the Senate to include bike/ped-related provisions developed by the Missouri Bicycle Federation in cooperation with Missouri lawmakers, other bike/ped groups around the state, and other road-safety interest groups in the state.

In the debate on the Senate floor, Sen. Dolan, chair of the Senate Transportation Committee, made clear that the Senators strongly supported several provisions added in the Senate's version, including the Bike/Ped provisions, and had worked hard to get these provisions accepted by the representatives in the Missouri House. But in conference committee the House members eliminated many of these provisions for various reasons.

So the version of HB 327 that came back to the Senate for final approval was missing the bike/ped provisions.

On the floor, Senator Dolan talked at some length about the provisions that were eliminated, including the bike/ped provisions.

Dolan indicated that he supported the bike/ped provisions and had worked hard, together with Sen. Joan Bray, who has been the Bike Fed's main contact point and sponsor in the Senate, to get them passed. Dolan especially complimented Bray for the hard work she had done in overcoming the objections of the insurance people and the trial lawyers and in working out language that was acceptable to all.

Sen. Bray talked about the importance of the bike/ped provisions and said she feels that bicyclists in Missouri aren't offered the sort of legal protection they need and "We don't want to be the kind of state where bicyclists don't want to come."

Sen. Dolan and Sen. Bray agreed that they will work together to get the bike/ped safety provisions passed next year. Sen. Dolan indicated that it will be the centerpiece of next year's Highway Safety Bill.

Then Senate voted to pass HB 327. But, again, though I haven't seen the bill's final text, as far as I know and could understand from the discussion from the Senate floor, all the bike/ped provisions have been removed from the bill.

What is in HB327? Provisions allowing low-speed vehicles (like golf carts) to use the roads under certain restrictions and regulations, provisions for compensating property owners for loss of left/right-turn access to highways in eminent domain proceedings, provisions for lighting/safety for horse-drawn carts, left-lane restrictions for heavy trucks, provisions about fraud in airbag installation, some technical provisions about gross vehicle weight, and some of the provisions increasing penalties teen drivers who speed or otherwise break traffic laws.

All together the bike/ped provisions received a hearing in the House Transportation Committee and received a "Do Pass" recommendation from the committee. They received a "Do Pass" recommendation from the Senate Transportation Committee. They were part of a Highway Safety Bill that came within minutes of passing the Senate when the bill was withdrawn by its sponsor. The provisions were added to HB 327 as a part of the Senate Committee substitute passed by the Senate in Thursday, April 15th. Due to objections by key House members, the provisions were removed from the final version of HB 327 that was passed by both the House and the Senate.

Thanks to the many cyclists from around the state who have worked on various aspects of the bill and have written their legislators in support of the bill. Your advocacy HAS made a difference and we have many friends and supporters in the Missouri legislature now.

Thanks to the many Missouri legislators and staff, on both sides of the aisle and in both chambers of the legislature, who have worked hard to create the bike/ped provisions and help them move forward in both the Senate and the House.

And the fight has only begun. We WILL be back next year, working for better laws to ensure equal treatment under the law for bicyclists (and pedestrians). The progress we have made and the relationships we have forged this year give us a big head start for next year.

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