Our vision for biking, walking, and trails in Missouri cities & counties

One of the most common questions we get at the Missouri Bicycle and Pedestrian Federation is, "What can I do to make my city safer and more inviting for biking and walking?" 

Complete Streets
Complete Streets

Here is the list of our top recommendations--ideas that have been tried, tested, and found to be effective in cities and counties across Missouri, the U.S., and the world.

Remember that there are many good ideas, but you don't have to implement all of them right now.  Pick one--the easiest for you to achieve right now--and then build on that success to implement another good idea, and so on.

  • Create a city bicycle, pedestrian, and trails plan. In smaller cities, this might be one integrated plan--but you might start with one element, the one with the most momentum and support, and then build on that success to add the other elements.  In larger cities, you might create three (or even more) separate plans. Visit our Planning page for many more resources.
  • Start with low-hanging fruit--a citywide bicycle route system, marked with signs and/or pavement markings, on your already existing network of bicycle-friendly streets.  Every city already has a system of roads and routes used by area bicyclists.  Find out where these routes are and mark them with bicycle route signs--an instant bicycle route system for the cost of a few signs.  Re-stripe roads to better accommodate bicycling whenever you repave--the added cost is close to zero.  You can re-stripe four lane roads to three lanes plus bike lanes--a road diet. Or you can reconfigure lane widths to create wider lanes (lanes greater than fourteen feet allow a bicyclist and motorist to comfortably share the lane) or to create shoulders or bike lanes. This is the single easiest and most cost-effect step every city can take to make the community dramatically more appealing for bicycling at a very low cost.

    Generally you can create a very good, very usable, very connected citywide network of on-road bicycle routes, perhaps 30-40 miles of interconnected routes covering the whole city, for about the same price as building one mile of trail.
  • Create a city bicycle, pedestrian and/or trails advisory committee. In some cities this is created by the mayor, in others by the city council. In some cases it is a permanent committee with ongoing responsibilities for creating guidance and giving feedback to the city council and staff and creating or reviewing policy and implementation.  In other cities it is a temporary committee created for a specific purpose, like creating the city's bicycle plan or trails plan. Resources. 
    Trails committee meeting
    Trails committee meeting

  • Apply for Bicycle Friendly Community and Walk Friendly Community status. "But we're not ready to apply for recognition yet--we haven't even gotten started!" you say. That may be true--but by starting to work through the application process, you will assess what you already have (almost certainly more than you think) and start to catalog what your city is missing and needs to change.  

    The Bicycle Friendly America Resource Page is one of the most comprehensive sets of resources that outlines exactly what communities across America are doing to become more bicycle friendly. The Walk Friendly Communities Resources Page is similarly helpful. As you see what other communities are doing, your community can start to develop a plan: What makes the most sense in your community? What will be easiest and hardest to do?

    Working toward Bicycle Friendly Community and Walk Friendly Community recognition is the best single comprehensive way to make your community a better, safer place to walk and bicycle over the long term.
  • Adopt a Complete Streets policy
    Bicycle Friendly Community logo
    Bicycle Friendly Community logo

  • Adopt a Vision Zero policy and approach to eliminating fatalities and serious injuries on the roads and streets
  • Update your community's bicycle and pedestrian laws:
  • Participate in statewide and national celebrations of bicycling and walking, like Bike Month, Bike to Work Week, Walk to School Month, and Walk to School Day.
  • Create--and encourage creation of--biking, walking, running, and trails events in your community. Weekly bike rides or walks, a Mayor's Bike Ride, a 5K trail run--all these events help encourage your citizens to enjoy biking, walking, and trails in your community, and help build public support for your bicycle, pedestrian, and trails plans.
  • Create a Safe Routes to School program in your community. 
    A walking school bus could be part of your city's Safe Routes to School program
    A walking school bus could be part of your city's Safe Routes to School program
  • Sponsor or coordinate bike ed classes.
  • Educate your law enforcement officers about bicycling and walking. Law enforcement officers are interested in promoting public safety and enforcing traffic laws. But they may not know the best ways to use their enforcement power to improve safety.  They may inadvertantly discourage bicycling and walking through ineffective or counterproductive enforcement.  Educating your law enforcement officers can make a big difference in keeping the streets safe for everyone and encourage more bicycling and walking.  Resources.
  • Consider adoption of bicycle parking requirements for residential and commercial developments, city buildings, and parks. Bicycle parking is simple and inexpensive, but most developers won't even think about it unless it is on a city's requirements list. Lack of a secure place to store and/or lock a bicycle at home, work, and other destinations (shopping, parks) is a major impediment to bicycle transportation for most people.  Example, more details.
  • Experiment and innovate. Interesting and innovative street design treatments can often be inexpensively, easily, and temporarily blocked in with barrels, planters, and a bit of paint. The result is that you can try out innovations like road diets and traffic calming on a temporary basis. Citizens are often worried about change. By trying it temporarily, most are willing to give it a chance. Keep your successes and remove or fix the failures.
  • Do regular bicycle and pedestrian counts. Documenting the number of people biking and walking in your community helps establish the interest in your community--and many times, also, the need for better facilities.  Counting before, during, and after the implementation of your plans and projects helps demonstrate their effectiveness.
  • Create ongoing, regular funding to implement your bicycle, pedestrian, and/or trails plan.  Some Missouri communities have a dedicated tax or funding source for trails and bicycle facilities; others specify bicycle and pedestrian projects in any relevant capital improvements tax or (for instance) trails within the project listing for the city's parks and recreation tax.  A Complete Streets approach means that you are considering appropriate bicycle and pedestrian facilities as an integral part of associated road and bridge projects--meaning that the bicycle and pedestrian elements are built right into the city's transportation budget.
  • Explore all potential funding sources and use those most appropriate to your plan. We've created a page listing and explaining most major sources of funding used by Missouri cities and counties.

More resources:

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