Capitol Day Monday: Missouri Reps threatening to ban spending on bike/ped

In 2014, a surprise amendment on the floor of the Missouri House to remove all bicycle funding from a proposed statewide funding initiative was soundly defeated in a vote on the House floor. Now Missouri representatives across the state are talking about banning funding for bicycling and walking again.

Opposition to bicycling and walking continues at the Missouri Capitol.
Opposition to bicycling and walking continues at the Missouri Capitol. When you speak up in favor of biking and walking, it makes a huge difference.

With MoDOT facing an unprecedented funding crisis, discussion in the Missouri General Assembly has been heating up on the subject of a tax increase to help fill the gap.

Unlike last year's (failed) proposal--which broadly addressed all of Missouri's transportation needs, including bicycling, walking, and transit--the current proposals are all focused on relatively small increases to the state fuel tax. By the Missouri Constitution, the fuel tax proceeds can be used only on road and streets in cities, and state highways administered by MoDOT.

Nevertheless, a small but vocal group of Missouri state representatives has made it clear that they oppose any funding for bicycling and walking in MoDOT's budget--and have even threatened to introduce an amendment to ban any spending on bicycling and walking.

With Bicycle & Pedestrian Day at the Capitol coming up Monday, April 13th, it's time for us to stand up and let our Missouri legislators know that we support funding for bicycling and walking.

What opponents of biking and walking are saying

Rep. Robert Ross, who represents the Houston and Cabool areas of south-central Missouri, recently wrote:

[MoDOT's] messaging campaign surrounding the "325 Plan" contains  "TOUGH CHOICES" (all caps, for emphasis), bridge closures, and the threat that only 25% of Missouri's roads will be maintained moving forward; each of which are intended to stir concern and influence public opinion to the point of finding the next proposal (tax increase) acceptable. While "Multimodal" spending represents a significant amount of [MoDOT's] annual budget (bicycle signs, bicycle lanes/trails, sidewalks, light rail, etc.), there has been no interest or movement to reduce spending in these areas or to shift that funding to the focus of their 325 campaign (roads and bridges). . . .

The point is, rather than develop a reasonable plan by redirecting funding away from the numerous initiatives that aren't a priority or benefit for most taxpayers, the false choice is provided - "more money, or else."

Rep. Ken Wilson of Smithville, went even further--threatening to introduce an amendment to ban spending on walking and biking:

Wilson said he may propose an amendment to the MoDOT plan seeking a stipulation preventing the gas tax from going toward purchases of equipment, personnel or improvements to walking or biking trails.

Accommodating bicycling and walking is basic infrastructure
Accommodating bicycling and walking is basic infrastructure and needn't be expensive. In rural areas, a simple shoulder often helps improve safety for all road users--motorized and non-motorized.

“I’ve got a lot of questions yet and a lot of concerns,” he said.

Why supporting bicycling and walking is the best transportation investment Missouri can make

Active transportation and outdoor recreation are a major and important part of Missouri's economy. Bicycling, walking, and associated activities--like travel and tourism that involves biking and walking, rides and runs, transportation by foot and bike--makes up $2.8 billion of Missouri's economy annually. 

A large portion of Missourians participate in these activities--more than 2 million Missourians bicycle annually, and every Missourian is a pedestrian.

Other states are investing in bicycling and walking--everything from good shoulders to bike lanes where needed to crosswalks and sidewalks in populated areas.  When Missouri falls behind in our investment in bicycling and walking, we lose business to other states.  Missouri is current ranked 37th in the Bicycle Friendly State ranking--meaning that 36 other states are ranked ahead of us.

People like to live in communities where they can safely walk and bicycle.  And businesses like to locate in communites where their employees can be active, healthy, and happy--meaning that they have easy access to outdoor recreation and transportation opportunities that Americans now expect as regular and routine.

Investing in walking and bicycling infrastructure--basic infrastructure like sidewalks, crosswalks, and shoulders that we have too-often neglected for the past 60-80 years--is by far the most cost-effective transportation the state, our cities and counties can make.

Investment in bicycling and walking costs relatively little--just a percent or two of our overall transportation investment--and brings incredible dividends by adding greater value and use into transportation corridors that taxpayers already own.

Our issue summaries for Capitol Day "Bicycling and Walking Mean Business" and "Meanstream Support for Bicycling and Walking" lay out the case for the importance of bicycling and walking in Missouri and provide the research and figures to back it up.

What you can do

  • Join us for the Legislators Ride and Bicycle & Pedestrian Day at the Capitol Monday, April 13th.  Your personal visit with your own legislators is by far the best way to make the case for Missouri's investment in bicycling and walking.
    MoDOT roads through our communities too often lack basic sidewalks, crosswalks.
    MoDOT roads through our communities too often lack basic pedestrian accommodations, like sidewalks and crosswalks--even in places where these are very clearly needed. The result is unnecessary injury and death for Missourians who choose to walk in their communities..

  • Contact your own legislators (one senator, one representative) and ask them to support bicycling and walking
    • Look up your legislator's contact info here
    • Call or send an email/electronic message (calling is quick, easy, and very effective) with this message:
      • Bicycling and Pedestrian Day at the Capitol is Monday, April 13th.  I support the message that members of the Missouri Bicycle & Pedestrian Federation will bring to your office Monday.
      • Tell a brief personal story about the value that bicycling/walking bring to your life and/or your community.  How would your family/business/community be better if we had better, safer places to walk and bicycle?  How does your community stack up to other communities around the nation that have made bicycling and walking routine parts of their transportation system?
      • Sidewalks, crosswalks, shoulders, and bikeways are among the most important transportation investments Missouri can make, and are also very inexpensive and cost-effective.
      • You oppose any attempt to restrict MoDOT from funding much-needed bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure, such as the proposals recently floated by Rep. Wilson and Rep. Ross.  MoDOT roads that cut through our communities and neighborhoods are vital links for bicycling and walking.  And the fuel tax goes to fund roads and streets in every Missouri city and county--the place where the vast majority of bicycling and walking in Missouri happens.

Thank you!  When you speak up to your representatives in Jefferson City, it really does make a difference!  With term limits in Jefferson City, there is a continual influx of new Senators and Representatives--many of whom are not aware of the importance of bicycling and walking to the communities they represent.  Every call, email, or visit helps them understand the importance of bicycling and walking to our families, communities, and neighborhoods.


Creating a world-class transportation bicycle and pedestrian transportation system in Missouri is one of the four primary goals of MoBikeFed's Vision for Bicycling and Walking in Missouri.  Finding the small but vital amount of funding needed to create and maintain that system is one of our statewide legislative priorities.  Opposing misguided attempts to eliminate bicycle and pedestrian funding is one of our top priorities.

Your ongoing membership and generous financial support help support activities like Capitol Day and our annual Legislative Agenda--and help us stop attacks on bicycling and walking in the General Assembly.  Your support helps raising the profile of bicycling and walking in Missouri and help turn our Vision into reality!



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