Missouri's major bicycle law update of 2005: Bike lanes, safe passing, and more

If you look at the (long) list of MoBikeFed's legislative platform planks that have passed over the years, you'll notice there is some significant legislative activity pretty much every year.

Bicycle and pedestrian supporters gather in Jefferson City for Capitol Day
Bicycle and pedestrian supporters gather in Jefferson City for Capitol Day

But it seems like about every ten years Missouri's bicycle law needs a major update.  In 1995, MoBikeFed worked to repeal Missouri's mandatory sidepath law and update the state's basic bicycle law.  In 2005, we worked to pass another major update to the basic bicycle law.  Now in 2015 we are preparing another major update to Missouri's bicycle law.

The last major update was in 2005.  What was in that update and how was it passed?

How the 2005 Bicycle Bill came to be

We introduced the idea of bicycle safety legislation in the 2003 legislative session, soon after MoBikeFed was reconstituted in November 2002.

For the 2005 session we hired our lobbyist Jim Farrell.  Before this time, MoBikeFed had never had a lobbyist, relying completely on volunteer organizing.  With Jim on board and following his advice, we were able to locate two powerful sponsors, Rep. Mike Sutherland of Warrenton and Senator Kevin Engler of Farmington, as well as a host of other supporters from both political parties.

Another major factor that helped in passing the legislation in 2005 was Missouri House Speaker Rod Jetton's planned Summer 2015 bicycle tour across Missouri on the Katy Trail.  Speaker Jetton was very interested in having a major bicycle law update on the books to set the tone for his cross-state ride.  The Speaker and his staff played a key role in ensuring that the bills moved forward and came to the floor for votes. Our lobbyist, who had a good relationship with the Speaker's staff, kept the legislation moving forward at all the right times.

The bill was introduced by Rep. Sutherland as HB 632 and by Senator Engler as SB 372. In the end, SB 372 passed as a standalone bill and HB 632 also passed as part of a larger transportation omnibus bill.  Both had unanimous or near unanimous support.

So what did HB 632/SB 372 include?

Here are the major provisions:

  • 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? And what happens if a cyclists is riding on the shoulder--which is technically illegal--and is involved in a collision or is injured? 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.


The bill was signed into law by Governor Matt Blunt in July 2005.  In 2011, the General Assembly passed a minor update to fix technical issues with the language.

See the full text of the bill below, and the full summary of Missouri's bicycle and pedestrian related laws, which prominently features the 2005 updates, here.

Full text of the bill

Be it enacted by the General Assembly of the State of Missouri, as follows:

Missouri's Capitol Building
Missouri's Capitol Building

            Section A. Sections 300.330 and 307.180, RSMo, are repealed and six new sections enacted in lieu thereof, to be known as sections 300.330, 300.411, 304.678, 307.180, 307.191, and 307.192, to read as follows:

            300.330. The driver of a motor vehicle shall not drive within any sidewalk area except as a permanent or temporary driveway. A designated bicycle lane shall not be obstructed by a parked or standing motor vehicle or other stationary object. A motor vehicle may be driven in a designated bicycle lane only for the purpose of a lawful maneuver to cross the lane or to provide for safe travel. In making an otherwise lawful maneuver that requires traveling in or crossing a designated bicycle lane, the driver of a motor vehicle shall yield to any bicycle in the lane. As used in this section, the term "designated bicycle lane" shall mean a portion of the roadway or highway that has been designated by the governing body having jurisdiction over such roadway or highway by striping with signing or striping with pavement markings for the preferential or exclusive use of bicycles.

            300.411. The operator of a motor vehicle overtaking a bicycle proceeding in the same direction on the roadway, as defined in section 300.010, shall leave a safe distance when passing the bicycle, and shall maintain clearance until safely past the overtaken bicycle.

            304.678. The operator of a motor vehicle overtaking a bicycle proceeding in the same direction on the roadway, as defined in section 300.010, RSMo, shall leave a safe distance when passing the bicycle, and shall maintain clearance until safely past the overtaken bicycle.

            307.180. As used in sections 307.180 to 307.193:

            (1) The word "bicycle" shall mean every vehicle propelled solely by human power upon which any person may ride, having two tandem wheels, or two parallel wheels and one or two forward or rear wheels, all of which are more than fourteen inches in diameter, except scooters and similar devices;

            (2) The term "motorized bicycle" shall mean any two- or three-wheeled device having an automatic transmission and a motor with a cylinder capacity of not more than fifty cubic centimeters, which produces less than three gross brake horsepower, and is capable of propelling the device at a maximum speed of not more than thirty miles per hour on level ground. A motorized bicycle shall be considered a motor vehicle for purposes of any homeowners' or renters' insurance policy.

            307.191. 1. A person operating a bicycle at less than the posted speed or slower than the flow of traffic upon a street or highway may operate as described in section 307.190 or may operate on the shoulder adjacent to the roadway.

            2. A bicycle operated on a roadway, or on the shoulder adjacent to a roadway, shall be operated in the same direction as vehicles are required to be driven upon the roadway.

            3. For purposes of this section and section 307.190, "roadway" is defined as that portion of a street or highway ordinarily used for vehicular travel, exclusive of the berm or shoulder.

            307.192. The operator of a bicycle shall signal as required in section 304.019, RSMo, except that a signal by the hand and arm need not be given continuously if the hand is needed in the control or operation of the bicycle. An operator of a bicycle intending to turn the bicycle to the right shall signal as indicated in section 304.019, RSMo, or by extending such operator's right arm in a horizontal position so that the same may be seen in front of and in the rear of the bicycle.


Note that HB 632 included a penalty provision for the safe passing of bicyclists provision, which was omitted from SB 372 for technical reasons.  The 2011 update to the law was to resolve this discrepancy. That part of the law now reads:


304.678. 1. The operator of a motor vehicle overtaking a bicycle proceeding in the same direction on the roadway, as defined in section 300.010, shall leave a safe distance, when passing the bicycle, and shall maintain clearance until safely past the overtaken bicycle.

2. Any person who violates the provisions of this section is guilty of an infraction unless an accident is involved in which case it shall be a class C misdemeanor.


Working to improve road safety, create a world-class bicycle and pedestrian system in Missouri, and encourage more Missourians to bicycle and walk more often are three of the major goals of MoBikeFed's Vision for Bicycling and Walking in Missouri. Working to improve Missouri's bicycle and pedestrian law is one of the major ways that MoBikeFed works to make that vision a reality.  The major updates to Missouri bicycle & pedestrian law in 1995 and 2005 are important milestones in that comprehensive legislative strategy.

Your ongoing membership and generous financial support of MoBikeFed power our legislative and advocacy work.  Thank you!


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