NEWSLETTER ARTICLE: With your help, MoBikeFed can help make Missouri a more bicycle and pedestrian friendly place

[This is an article from the Summer 2004 issue of The Hub, MoBikeFed's newsletter. Articles from The Hub are posted on the website on a delayed basis. To receive articles on time and directly to your mailbox, please join MoBikeFed.]

This article was published as "From the Chair", by MoBikeFed President Brent Hugh:

On our recent family vacation, we covered about 3000 miles by car and a few hundred miles by bicycle in seven states. As I do every time I return from such a trip, the moment we crossed the state line back into Missouri, I had to ask myself, “What is WRONG with this state?”

If you haven't been out of state for a while you might have forgotten, so let me remind you:

* Roads in other states, especially interstate freeways and major highways, are not cracked to pieces and filled with potholes and bumps. Most roads in other state are s-m-o-o-t-h.

* Almost all major roads and streets in other states have shoulders (or bicycle lanes) and, in urban areas, sidewalks.

* With precious few exceptions, bridges and overpasses have wide shoulders and, in urban areas, sidewalks.

* When previously rural areas become densely populated, they improve the road network to suit the new situation, adding sidewalks and shoulders to formerly narrow country lanes.

I don't think that most of this is done specifically with bicyclists in mind. But people in most parts of this country demand good roads and take it for granted that bicyclists and pedestrians will need to go everywhere the roads go. They are not afraid to spend the money needed to create this network of good roads. They realize that the benefits of a complete network of “complete streets” far outweigh the costs.

And it pays off. Everywhere we went we saw bicyclists and pedestrians by the dozens–easily ten times the number I see in my little corner of Kansas City.

Here in Missouri, we have our work cut out for us if we want to make a transportation system that offers real choice and meets the needs of all users, including bicyclists. And that is not just my own vague impression. We know that Missourians walk and bicycle less than the national average and the stats show that Missourians are fatter than the national average and becoming fatter still at a frightening rate.

I see you, the members of the Missouri Bicycle Federation as the nucleus of a group that over the next years and decades, will turn this situation around 180°. It’s starting to happen already. In recent trips to Springfield and Columbia I saw dozens of cyclists on the streets and trails, young and old, doing everything from training to grocery shopping. The St. Louis Bicycle Federation is making a big impact and the Greater Kansas City Bicycle Federation is getting on its feet.

We need to take these examples of success in Missouri and replicate them in every city and town across the state. It can be done, and we know from studies and surveys that an overwhelming majority of Missourians want bicycle and pedestrian friendly streets and more recreational trails of all kinds.

Let’s step up to the plate and make it happen.