Capitol Day 2013: One citizen's story

 

Brent Hugh told me about the Missouri Bicycle & Pedestrian Federation's event planned for April 8, 2013, called Bicycle & Pedestrian Day at the Capitol.  Being closely involved with the running community in Kansas City, I agreed to help out. After an 8:00am committee meeting for the new Flights of Fancy foot-race at New Longview, it was a short drive to the Lee’s Summit Amtrak station.  The four-car train rolled in, all commuters boarded, and we rolled out down the track.  My last train ride was over 40 years ago, so the experience was a treat.

After the 2 hour 27minute journey to Jefferson City, we pulled into Jefferson Landing and could see the capitol dome dominating the hilltop, two blocks up the street.  I immediately headed to the 1st floor rotunda, to catch only the last few minutes of the 10:30-11:30 Awards Ceremony.  A program booklet listed literally dozens of people who have been instrumental in developing MoBikeFed, now called MoBikePedFed.  Written were stories of the 14 men and women who received the commendation of the 2013 Distinctive Service awards.  All names can be found at www.MoBikeFed.org.

We dismissed to the 3rd floor and mingled picnicking attendees, some in proper attire for Capitol business and some already changed into riding shorts and tops, with gloves and helmets close by.  At 12:30pm, the now cycle-dressed crowd of about 50 people, both government and non-, gathered on the south lawn.  The Capitol steps served as stage for Brent and seven presenters, hosting a brief rally to kick off the “2013 Bike Day Legislators Ride”.  Those who came without two wheels were outfitted by Chris Gerli of City Cycling Tours in Forest Park, MO, who unloaded bikes and helmets enough to serve all comers. And let the ride begin!

The caravan circled the Capitol, then streamed down West Main and crossed the Missouri River.  Down the ramps we rode, following Walnut to Oilwell Road, entering the Greenway leading to the Katy Trail-head.  The feeling of real organic progress swelled up when I stepped foot on the middle of a long-developed 224-mile trail connecting St. Charles to Clinton.  How proud we can be to claim the longest rail-to-trail route in the United States.  If we discover such achievements in other countries, is it possible this is the longest in the world?  Which means…The Universe!  I couldn’t resist riding, and took a jaunt down to the Turkey Creek truss bridge and back.  Good work-out on a day with wonderful weather.

After taking time to cool down a bit, I re-donned the suit and tie, to finish my assigned lobbying.  Each of us would visit congressional offices to deliver position papers, present our case, and ask for feedback.  I visited with both Sen Will Kraus (in the lobby) and Rep. Tom McDonald (on the House floor), and also staff in the offices of each.  Both were openly supportive of our efforts with Bike-Ped promotion in the state, and both wished to advance as much as possible given Missouri’s presently encumbered fiscal situation.

The Senate session was interesting to observe from the gallery, until time for a re-cap of the day at a local restaurant.  All too soon, the clock urged me to hurry down the hill to board the train and head back home.  The ride home traveled into the dusk, as I pondered the day.  We made a good impression on legislators and re-associated some wide-spread members of the Federation.  The latter could be as important as our citizen’s display of concern, to solidify the troops for the next campaign.  Communication in both realms is key to our success.