Capitol Day 2017: Citizens visit the Capitol with messages about trails, safe roads, importance of bicycle, pedestrian, and trails funding in Missouri

Supporters of bicycling, walking, and trails in Missouri visited Missouri's Capitol Monday for the 14th annual Bicycle & Pedestrian Day at the Capitol.

Annual Legislators Ride - from the Capitol to the Katy Trail and back. The Legislators Ride is a partnership of MoBikeFed, MoDOT, and Missouri State Parks.
Annual Legislators Ride - from the Capitol to the Katy Trail and back. This photos shows many ride participants, including Rep. Jeff Justus, Rep. Karla May, Rep. Dan Stacy, and Ron Effland of MoDOT. Park Superintendent Sarah Jones and Corporal Sigman (far right) of Missouri State Parks rode sweep. The Legislators Ride is a partnership of MoBikeFed, MoDOT, and Missouri State Parks.

We held our annual legislators ride and rally and visited the office of every Missouri state elected official with an information packet about our legislative priorities for 2017.

News media from around the state covered Monday's event. The Jefferson City News-Tribune wrote:

The advocacy efforts of the Missouri Bicycle and Pedestrian Federation's Capitol Day on Monday centered around four issues — the foremost was support for an anticipated expansion of the Rock Island Trail, likely threatened by a bill to limit acquisition of land for state parks.

"It's an amazing investment in rural communities we don't want to miss," the federation's Executive Director Brent Hugh said of the trail's expansion.

The federation is the only statewide advocacy organization that works on behalf of the state's 2 million bicyclists and 6 million walkers, according to its website.

Hugh said the trail expansion in the corridor of the former Rock Island Railroad is a multi-million-dollar gift Missouri can get for free, "if the state will take it."

Joplin Globe:

On this year's legislative day, cyclists weren’t worried about bills that would make them ride with a 15-foot pole or allow ATVs on the Katy. Instead, they worried that the Missouri Rock Island Trail, a project that has been in the works since 2010, was in jeopardy.

By the end of the year, Ameren will donate about 144 miles of rail-banked trail if all goes as planned, said Greg Harris, the Missouri Rock Island Trail Inc. executive director. However, a bill that is currently making its way through the House might prohibit the state from accepting the land.

KOMU TV:

Hugh thinks extending the trail could generate more economic and social value to mid-Missouri and attract more tourists both within and outside the state.

“If we want our community to thrive, we have to have to invest in it first,” Hugh said. “This is some kind of investment that pays back so many dividends, and even pays for itself in its economic returns. 

A bill sponsored by Rep. Randy Pietzman, R-Troy, could prevent expansion of the Rock Island Trail. Pietzman introduced HB 698 to the House of Representatives in January, which would prohibit further land acquisition until all other state parks are restored as necessary. . . .

Greg Harris, executive director of the Rock Island Trail, said he understands Pietzman’s focus to maintain structure in existing state parks, but thinks new outdoor facilities that could stimulate development for some mid-Missouri communities.

Rep. Dan Stacy, Blue Springs, joined us on the Legislators Ride
Rep. Dan Stacy, Blue Springs, joined us on the Legislators Ride

“When a community is all about better economic development, tourism, and transportation, people want to live there,” Harris said. “With all non-motorized transportation, people are outside and improving the quality of life.”

The four top priorities we discussed with legislators and state leaders Monday:

  • The importance of bicycling, walking, running, trails to Missouri's economy.  These areas are responsible for fully $2.8 billion of Missouri's economy annually--and they are a big part of what makes Missouri a great place to live, to visit, and to locate your business.
     
  • Support for the completion of the statewide Rock Island Trail State Park. Ameren is ready to GIVE the next 144 miles of the Rock Island corridor to Missouri State Parks--but a few representatives, senators, and state officials have indicated a hesitancy on the state's part to receive the trail. A bill, HB 698, was introduced that--unless amended from its original version--would stop the state from accepting any new state park lands. 

    Rep. Jeff Justus of Branson joined us for the annual Legislators Ride
    Rep. Jeff Justus of Branson joined us for the annual Legislators Ride


     
  • Closing a loophole on dog injuries: Generally, dog owners are responsible when a dog injures someone. But there is a loophole in current Missouri law--if the injury happens on public property, the dog owner is not responsible. HB 1134 sponsored by Rep. McDaniel will close this loophole, making dog owners responsible for injury wherever it happens and encouraging dog owners to keep control of their animals.
     
  • Distracted driving: Several bills will make hands-free use of electronic devices mandatory.  Missouri is one of just four states that still allows motorists to text while driving.
     
  • Include walking and bicycling in a planned transportation funding task force: A bill sponsored by Rep. Corlew of Kansas City will great a task force to explore statewide transportation funding options. We want to be sure that the state's bicycle and pedestrian community is well represented on that task force.

Many thanks to everyone who attended Capitol Day--individuals, organizations, groups, clubs, businesses, and events from all around Missouri were represented at the Capitol Monday.  

 

 

And many thanks, too, to everyone who supported our work by your membership, making a special donation, or by taking the time to contact your own state legislators in support of our agenda.

(And if you haven't contacted your legislators this year--it's not too late.  Visit this page for a sample message and contact info.)

  

 Missouri Rock Island Trail, Inc. (MoRIT) was well represented at Capitol Day 

  

 

Working for more, better, safer bicycling, walking, and trails across Missouri is the primary goal of MoBikeFed's Vision for Bicycling and Walking in Missouri. Events like our annual Capitol Day are some of the most effective tools we have to build statewide support for our Vision.

Your ongoing membership and generous financial support help turn our Vision into reality!

Want better bicycling and walking in Missouri?
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