New Missouri transportation funding will set the direction for 25 years--will it include bicycling and walking?

In the past few weeks, we have seen the results of years of work on bicycle and pedestrian issues in Missouri come to fruition.  These are important, fundamental changes to bicycle and pedestrian policy and funding in Missouri--and changes that are possibly only because of years of membership and investment in bicycle and pedestrian advocacy by supporters like you:

With all these changes--and and many more not listed there--Missouri has really turned a corner.  We now have the chance to make Missouri a really top-notch state for bicycling and walking.

Right now we have a Summer Fundraising Challenge going on--we are almost there (over $13,000 towards our goal of $17,500--THANK YOU everyone who has donated!).

With many of the major goals in MoBikeFed's Vision of Bicycling and Walking in Missouri accomplished or well on their way, why are we asking for your support now?

What's next?

What's next is something major.  Something huge.  Something that will set the tone and direction for transportation in Missouri for the next quarter century--or more.

MoDOT's funding crisis is our opportunity

MoDOT's funding source--mainly the state fuel tax--is decreasing significantly in buying power every year.  It's been almost 15 years since the last tax increase.  The result is, MoDOT funding is currently in deep crisis.  If you have turned on the TV news or cracked a newspaper, you've seen it--MoDOT is planning to slash thousands of jobs and the agency is looking at a future where they will have to turn back federal transportation funding because MoDOT won't have enough state funds to meet the required matching amounts.

Waiting for MoDOT by Zaskem on FlickR
Waiting for MoDOT by Zaskem on FlickR
Our state leaders have known for years that this crisis was approaching.  Right now a group called the Missouri Transportation Alliance is working on a plan--most likely to be presented to voters in a referendum--to increase taxes and bring MoDOT's funding back to the level it was in the late 1990s.

So we are looking at a new transportation funding source for Missouri.

This new funding source will most likely include new funding for MoDOT and will also include revenue sharing to fund the transportation budgets of every city and county in the state.

The questions: 

  • Will the new funding source include dedicated funding for bicycle, pedestrian, and transit in addition to automobile and heavy truck transportation?
  • Will the new funding source treat bicycle and pedestrian transportation on an equal ground with other transportation types.
  • Will the new funding source include Complete Streets requirements--as many new transportation funding sources across the country do?

We have developed plans, resources, and allies to help us reach those goals.

But we need your help!  Reaching our goal for the Summer Fund Raising Challenge will get us off to a good start in our campaign for equity for bicyclists and pedestrians in Missouri's transportation funding.

Your contribution helps a lot--literally every dollar, every five dollars can make a difference.

Will Missouri's next century look different than the last?

MODOT construction, courtesy MoDOT Photos, FlickR
MODOT construction, courtesy MoDOT Photos, FlickR

Over the past hundred years, Missouri has gone from no paved roads and no automobiles to 34,000 miles of paved roads owned by MoDOT--and tens of thousands more miles maintained by cities and counties--and millions of automobiles.

Building those tens of thousands of miles of paved roads and highways has been a huge effort--and a huge cost.

As the number of automobiles went from none at the beginning of the century to one per family at mid-century to (more than!) one per driver by the year 2000, traffic planners and engineers learned one lesson:  You can't build enough roads, and you can't add enough lanes.

Here is the danger: Transportation planners will carry on with that hard-learned lesson for the next 50 years.

They will keep adding lanes, adding highways, and neglecting the needs of those who bicycle, walk, and use transit as part of their daily transportation mix.

Because guess what--the situation has changed.  Dramatically.

It is now time for transportation planners and engineers to un-learn that hard-learned lesson.

Because today, the rate of miles driven per capita is actually decreasing.  Not only that, but population growth in Missouri is slowing down.

The result?  The number of miles driven in Missouri has been flat for the past nine years.

We have to ask the question: Do we need to be sinking millions and billions of dollars into expensive new highways, freeways, interchanges, additional lanes, and other so-called 'road improvements' when the number of miles driven in Missouri isn't increasing at all?

A new, healthier direction for Missouri

Complete Streets, courtesy Complete Streets Coalition
Complete Streets, courtesy Complete Streets Coalition
But there is something that is increasing in Missouri--and something that has been sorely neglected in the past 100 years of Missouri's transportation funding.

That is bicycling and walking.

Everywhere you go in Missouri today, you see more people out bicycling and more people out walking.

It's good for our health, it's good for our environment.  It's just plain fun.

And we know that when we build the right facilities--when people feel safe bicycling and walking--more people will bicycle and walk.

So here is the challenge for Missouris' next 100 years: Can we make a state where everyone, whatever their chose way of moving around town or around the state, can do it safely.

Can we make a state where everyone can seamlessly walk and bicycle wherever they want to go?

MoDOT's current funding crisis is a huge opportunity--because this new funding could send us in the right direction, or it could fund more of the same: more big, fast, unfriendly highways and interchanges.

Help us make Missouri a better, safer place to walk and bicycle--help us get our transportation funding back on the right track.

Your donation to our Summer Fund Raising Campaign will make a real difference.

 

Photo credits:

Urban Complete Streets, courtesy National Complete Streets Coalition, FlickR

Waiting for MoDOT, courtesy Zaskem, FlickR

MODOT construction, courtesy MoDOT Photos, FlickR 

Rural Complete Streets, courtesy National Complete Streets Coalition

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

http://www.flickr.com/photos/modot/5081347280/