Governor signs Missouri Bicycle Safety Law

Missouri Bicycle Federation Members and Supporters,

It's time to celebrate!

The 2005 Missouri Bicycle Safety Bill, promoted by the Missouri Bicycle Federation and other key bicycle/pedestrian groups across the state and passed by the Missouri General Assembly in May 2005, has now been signed by the governor.

It's the law!

A summary of the newly passed provisions is below.

But hiring Jim Farrell this year to represent bicyclists in Jefferson City and get this legislation passed has been even more helpful than simply the list of changes to Missouri law would indicate.

Passing this legislation has given the Missouri Bicycle Federation credibility in Jefferson City. Legislators, staff, journalists, and policy makers now know us and listen to us.

This is the kind of clout we need to move bicycling forward in Missouri.

Many thanks to you all who have supported MoBikeFed in moving this legislation forward!

Links to complete bill texts: SB372, HB487. (Note that both bills have identical text, except that HB487 has one important provision that SB372 lacks--the penalty provision for failing to pass bicyclists safely.)

When does the new law take effect? HB 487 was passed with the "emergency clause", so it took effect as soon as the governor signed it.

Thanks to Senator Kevin Engler, the bill's sponsor in the Senate, and Mike Sutherland, the sponsor in the House and to the bill's many cosponsors in both the House and the Senate. Special thanks goes to House Speaker Rod Jetton, whose support was crucial in moving the legislation forward in the House this year, and to Senator Joan Bray, who sponsored or cosponsored the bill for the past three years, and whose support over the years has been crucial in keeping the Bicycle Safety Bill alive.

Summary: What is in the new bicycle safety law, SB372/HB487?
* Motorists shall leave a safe distance when overtaking bicyclists. There is a penalty for those who pass unsafely, and a more severe penalty when passing too close results in a collision. Having a specific offense for passing too closely will also make it easier to escalate to higher penalties when that is appropriate (for instance, when a driver purposefully passes too close in order to harass or intimidate).

* The first bicycle lane regulations in Missouri law. Bike lanes may not be blocked. Motorists must yield to bicyclists in the bike lane before crossing the lane. A bicycle lane is for preferential use by bicyclists but the bicyclists are NOT confined to the lane as is required by many other states.

* Updated the definition of "bicycle" in Missouri law to include adult tricycles and quadracycles (previously these were in legal limbo)

* When a shoulder is present, bicyclists may, but are NOT REQUIRED to, operate on the shoulder. Previously shoulder riding was technically illegal. This did not create much of a practical problem, because police did not enforce it. But it created a severe policy problem--how can you improve the shoulder of a highway for bicycle use, when it is technically illegal for bicyclists to ride there? How do you make a statewide bicycling map, which (among other things) shows which roads have shoulders and which don't? Now problems like these are solved.

* Bicyclists may indicate a right turn by raising the left arm to the square OR by pointing with the right arm. Research shows that pointing in the direction of the turn is the signal best understood by motorists. Now it is legal to do so in Missouri.

* Bicyclists hand and arm signals need not be given continuously if the hand/arm is needed to control the bicycle.
See previous coverage of the Bicycle Safety Legislation here.