2006 Missouri legislative roundup for bike/ped

The 2006 Missouri legislative session concluded Friday, May 12th.

A couple of significant steps forward were taken this session. Unfortunately a couple of completely uncontroversial but important measures were lost at the last minute due to political infighting completely unrelated to our issues.

GOOD - Clutch's Law passes: Clutch's Law, which provides for much stronger penalties for those drivers who run stop signs or traffic lights or recklessly speed, when that causes a accident leading to injury or death. The American Motorcycle Association has been promoting this law for years and MoBikeFed has supported the legislation. It will be effective when a motorist runs a stop sign or traffic light and injures a bicyclist or pedestrian as well and should also apply at least in some cases if a motorist fails to yield to a pedestrian in a crosswalk.

GOOD - Kansas City Transit Initiative passes: A bill sponsored by Senator Chris Koster of Harrisonville will allow the creation of a special district consisting of several counties in the Kansas City area to fund a regional transit system. Originally the bill required bi-state cooperation but after the Kansas-side bill died an early death in the Kansas legislature, the Missouri legislation was amended to allow Missouri counties to move forward alone if Kansas does not join in. The original bill also included provision for funding MetroGreen Trails and a traffic signal management system. These two initiatives were removed after opposition from Kansas cities, but it is unclear now whether trails funding could possibly be included as a secondary part of a regional transit initiative.

GOOD - No passing on solid yellow fails: Rep. Neil St. Onge sponsored a bill to forbid crossing the yellow stripe when passing. Some changes from the original bill would have allowed crossing the yellow line to avoid debris or when passing a slow-moving vehicle, which was an improvement over the original. However the definition of 'vehicle' excluded bicycles, meaning that automobiles would have been required to pass bicyclists without crossing the solid yellow line when that line is present. For that reason MoBikeFed opposed this legislation. However we feel we can work with Mr. St. Onge to make this legislation acceptable to and safe for bicyclists when it is introduced again next year. With just one simple change this will turn from very bad to very good legislation for bicyclists and pedestrians.

BAD - Trails in Missouri Parks fails: Rep. Mike Sutherlands' bill to allow and encourage nonprofit organizations like EarthRiders, GORC, and IMBA to build trails in state parks was perfectly positioned to pass. It passed the House as a consent bill, was well positioned in the Senate, and had no opposition. Despite the efforts of our lobbyist Jim Farrell--who was up until 2:30AM Friday morning working to move this bill and the Safe Routes Resolution (below) forward--political infighting during the last two days of the session killed this bill and many other, similar noncontroversial pieces of legislation.

BAD - Safe Routes to School Resolution fails: Rep. Mike Sutherland sponsored a resolution supporting Missouri's new Safe Routes to School program and Walk/Bike to School Month in Missouri. Like the Trails in Parks bill, the resolution passed the House and was well positioned to move in the Senate but became mired in the political infighting that killed many noncontroversial pieces of legislation in the last two days.

Altogether, though we won some and lost some, the value of remaining in engaged in the political process is very clear.

Though the Safe Routes to School Resolution ultimately failed, the fact that we were able to introduce it and move it forward in the House and Senate clearly helped to give us respect within MoDOT. The result is that although the resolution did not move, we have been able to help improve MoDOT's Safe Routes program significantly.

Rep. Sutherland will certainly be back with the Trails in Parks bill next year--it is a very good, simple, effective piece of legislation and MOBikeFed will support it again.

Our strategy of working with lobbyist Jim Farrell to make continuous, small improvements every year is really paying off. The type of improvement that could not ever be accomplished in one mighty feat can be done in 5 or 10 years of continuous, small improvements.

The MoBikeFed board will be plotting our long-term legislative strategy during our August board retreat, August 12-13 in West Plains. If you have ideas for legislation--especially simple, non-controversial, effective ideas like the Trails in Parks bill--or if you would like to join the board for all or part of the August Board Meeting, please email director [at] mobikefed.org.