2016 Legislative Session: Summary of bills affecting bicycling, walking, and trails

We are just in the third week of Missouri's 2016

Capitol Day in Jefferson City is April 11th - please join us!
Capitol Day in Jefferson City is April 11th - please join us!
legislative session, and already we have seen a number of bills introduced that are important to people in Missouri who walk, bicycle, and use trails.

On the negative side, we are seeing proposals to:

  • Require bicyclists to use a 15-foot tall safety flag (?!)
  • Allow motorized users on the Katy Trail
  • Ban bicycles on certain roads (not introduced yet--but we are hearing a persistent rumor a bill will be introduced soon)

On the positive side, bills are returning in 2016 to

  • Increase penalties to dangerous drivers who injure or kill
  • Ban texting while driving
  • Require a minimum safe passing distance when motorists pass people bicycling
  • Require Missouri high schools to offer Driver's Ed

Another major issue in 2016 is the state transportation funding shortfall. Missouri's dramatic underinvestment in transit, walking, and bicycling harms the ability of our communities, large and small, to compete in today's global marketplace--but all proposed solutions address highway funding only. 

Funding--particularly lack of funding for any non-highway modes--is a big issue. We have detailed funding-related bills on a separate page.

Summary of 2016 pedestrian, bicycle, and trails-related bills

Below is a summary of all pedestrian bicycle, and trails-related bills currently in play in the Missouri House and Senate. Bookmark this page--it will be continually updated as the 2016 Legislative Session progresses.

  • HB2046 - Houghton, Jay  - OPPOSE - Requires bicycles operated on lettered county roads to be equipped with safety flags 15 feet in height

    Comment: We oppose this bill strongly. Carrying any flag is impractical for most bicyclists. The proposal will be impossible to enforce. The proposal will not increase safety for bicyclists in any meaningful way. The proposal will lead to selective enforcement and harassment of bicyclists.  Just proposing a bill like this gives Missouri a black eye to those outside the state and to potential tourists.

    Practical solutions to the problems the bill would like to address include funding for safety education for both motorists and bicyclists, lowering speed limits and enforcement of speed limits on narrow and windy roads, and adding shoulders to roads in rural areas

  • HB2044 - Davis, Charlie - SUPPORT - Changes the laws regarding the distance to be maintained when overtaking a bicycle--minimum three feet clearance required; applies whether cyclist is in the lane or on the shoulder

    Comment: Safe passing for bicyclists has been a top priority in our legislative agenda for more than a decade.  In 2005, we worked for passage of the Bicycle Safety Law, which created a requirement for safe passing of bicyclists in Missouri. This proposal will strengthen that requirement.

    This issue has been identified as a top priority by our members

  • HB2047 - Houghton, Jay - OPPOSE - Allows certain individuals to use all terrain vehicles and golf carts on the Katy Trail on certain days

    Comment: We oppose this bill as written. Users value the Katy Trail precisely because it is a space free of motorized vehicles. Most users of the Katy Trail move at 10 MPH or less.  Allowing larger, faster-moving vehicles on the trail (speed limit 15 MPH; experience says most motorized users will exceed that) will intimidate and crowd people who use the trail for walking, hiking, running, and cycling.

    Adjoining property owners have already seen at change in use of the corridor from railroad to nonmotorized trail.  Some property owners may well object to--and even file lawsuits about--allowance motorized access along the trail. ATV access is a specific problem, because unauthorized ATV access is already an issue for many property owners.

    The idea of allowing greater access to the Katy Trail, for example by users with disabilities, is one that should be explored.  Perhaps Missouri State Parks can find ways to expand their existing motorized tours of the Katy Trail.

  • HB 2264 - Korman, Bart (042) - OPPOSE - Eliminates the requirement that an operator of a motor vehicle come to a full and complete stop for the purposes of turning right at a red light

    Comment: Right turn on red without a stop creates and extremely dangerous situation for pedestrians crossing at signalized intersections.  Even with a requirement to stop on red before completing a right turn, far too many motorists fail to look for pedestrians who are crossing the adjoining street with the green light. 

    Eliminating the requirement to stop will exacerbate this already dangerous problem.

Dangerous drivers

  • HB1813 - Hicks, Ron - SUPPORT - Increases the penalties and license suspension periods for the offense of failing to yield the right-of-way

  • SB 917 - Schaefer - SUPPORT - Increases the penalties and driver license suspension periods for those who fail to yield the right-of-way in certain instances

    Comment: The increase of penalties for dangerous drivers who injure and kill has been one of our top legislative priorities for several years.

    We strongly support this bill--both the Senate and House versions.

    This issue has been identified by our members as a top priority

Texting while driving; distracted driving

  • SB 569 - David Pearce - SUPPORT - Applies ban on using cell phones related to text messaging while driving to all drivers
  • SB 821 - Jill Schupp - SUPPORT - Applies ban on using cell phones related to text messaging while driving to all drivers
  • HB2126 - Higdon, Galen - SUPPORT - Prohibits commercial drivers from using a hand-held wireless device/texting while driving
  • HB1423 - Brown, Cloria - SUPPORT - Prohibits texting by all persons operating a moving vehicle upon the highways of this state
  • HB1377 - Walker, Nate - SUPPORT - Prohibits anyone from sending, reading, or writing a text message while operating a motor vehicle
  • HB1542 - English, Keith - SUPPORT - Prohibits text messaging while driving unless the device is equipped with technology allowing for hands-free texting and is being used in that manner while operating a non-commercial vehicle

    Comment: We strongly support bills that ban texting, use of electronic devices, cell phone use, and other distractions while driving. Extensive research shows that distracted driving is a major cause of injuries and deaths on our roads.


    This issue has been identified by our members as a top priority.

Driver education

  • HB 2178 - Higdon, Galen - SUPPORT - Requires high schools to offer driver's education courses

    Comment: Missouri moved away from requiring driver's ed for new drivers some years ago, replacing the driver's ed requirement with a graduated driver license system.  Many schools still offer driver's ed, and many students still take it, but many do not.

    Research has shown the graduated driver license system to be more effective than driver's ed alone in promoting safe driving among young drivers.  But this leaves a real gap in our training system for young drivers, as many never go through a course of intensive learning of the rules of the road or guided driving practice.

Traffic fines; red light cameras

  • HB 1800 - Pace, Sharon - INFORMATION ONLY - Changes the limits of the annual general operating revenue from traffic fines in St. Louis County and municipalities within such county from 12.5% to 20%
  • HB1945 - Spencer, Bryan - INFORMATION ONLY - Prohibits the use of automated traffic enforcement systems beginning August 28, 2016, and requires any political subdivision to complete or terminate any automated traffic enforcement contract within one year

    Comment: We have not adopted a position for or against these particular bills.  In general we support legislation that improves safety for all road users. Enforcement is an important part of that effort.  Whether we support, oppose, or remain neutral on these bills depends very much on the details of the proposals as they move forward.

    Here are the issues of concern on these bills: Concern about automated traffic enforcement and arbitrary enforcement of traffic laws to generate funds for Missouri cities have been high visibility statewide and national issues.  These bills are intended to reign in excesses in these areas.

    It is important that the safety of Missourians who drive, walk, and bicycle is considered as these measures move forward. The right type of enforcement of traffic laws has been shown to have a dramatic effect on driver behavior.  This is one of the few interventions that changes driver behavior.

    We would like to see the General Assembly adopt an approach that prioritizes both safety on our roadways and respect for individual rights.
      For the purposes of improving traffic safety and driver behavior, high fines and jail sentences are very rarely required. Instead, positive feedback, educational interventions for poor drivers, and fines or penalties proportionate to income (particularly for low income individuals) can be just as effective if not more so.

Transit

  • SB 782 - Onder - INFORMATION ONLY - Allows the concealed carry of firearms on public transportation systems and the transporting of non-functioning or unloaded firearms on public buses

Bicycle & Pedestrian Day at the Capitol April 11th - Please join us!

Our annual Bicycle & Pedestrian Day at the Capitol is April 11th, 2016.  Please plan to join us and talk with your own legislators about these issues and much more!

 

Working to create a world-class transportation system for walking and bicycling and improve safety for all who use our states roads--including people who walk and bicycle--is a key goal of our Vision for Bicycling and Walking in Missouri. \

Our work with the Missouri General Assembly and our annual Legislative Platform are an important in helping us reaching those goals. Between 1995 and 2015, new fewer than forty-five of the proposals that we have supported or opposed in our Legislative Platform have been approved or defeated, respectively.

Your ongoing membership and generous financial support help turn our Vision into reality, and turn our Legislative Platform into law!