Missouri Bicycling, Walking, Running, and Trails News

Research: Lack of public transit and safe places to walk and bicycle has major health impact on rural Missouri

In 2016, bicycling, walking, parks, and trails are moving forward in Missouri in a way they never have before--a vast improvement from the 5, 10, and 20 years ago.

But the improvements we see across Missouri are not yet universal.  We see many parts of the state where the relatively new movement for vibrant, liveable, walkable, bicycleable communities has taken hold very well--but many others where it has not yet taken hold.

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

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

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Amtrak roll-on provisions finally passed as part of FAST Act

Back in March 2015, we asked you to contact members of the House to ask for their support for bicycle roll-on on Amtrak rail cars.  In July we reported that similar language had been adopted in the Senate.

But of course, neither of those is the final passage of the bicycle roll-on language.  So what happened next? Was it ever actually passed into law?

Working with Congress means doing work now that pays off years later--in a big way

One reason we ask you to weigh in with your members of Congress when we have opportunities early on in the legislative process, is because that is where issues like these are won and lost.  Just one or two key supportive members of Congress in each Chamber working on our behalf in an early hearing, and we have the language we want in the earliest legislative drafts in both the House and the Senate.

Then, when the full bill moves forward--often months or even years later--our hard-fought issue moves with it.

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The Top Twelve: The most important Missouri bicycling, walking, and trails stories of 2015

2015 was a banner year for bicycling, walking, and trails across Missouri, as communities, agencies, elected officials, committed individuals and groups worked hard to make Missouri a better, safer place to walk and bicycle.

Let's look at some of the highlights of 2015:

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President signs $305 billion transportation bill with improvements for bicycling and walking

Last week, the House and Senate passed final version of the FAST Act, which authorizes $305 billion in federal transportation spending and sets federal transportation policy for the next five years. President Obama signed the bill into law yesterday.

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Wildwood MO becomes 8th Missouri city to adopt anti-harassment policy for bicyclists, pedestrians

Recently the City of Wildwood passed a comprehensive new anti-harassment policy protecting people who walk, bicycle, ride horses, use wheelchairs, and drive on the city's streets, sidewalks, trails, and other public spaces.

Wildwood becomes the eighth Missouri city to pass an anti-harassment policy. 

Harassment has been identified by MoBikeFed members and other people who walk and bicycle across Missouri that we have surveyed, as among their top issues. For that reason, it has become one of the top issues of our Legislative Platform.

Harassment is discouraging and frightening.  Fear of harassment and past episodes of harassment have discouraged many for bicycling, walking, and running in their communities as much as they would like to.

Wildwood's policy is an excellent example for other communities across Missouri to consider.  It takes a unique and productive approach in that it protects all users of the roads and trails equally--including drivers and occupants of motor vehicles.

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Bike League visits Missouri towns to promote Bicycle Friendly Communities program

The League of American Bicyclists conducted site visits to Columbia and Jefferson City last week as part of its Bicycle Friendly Communities (BFC) program. A similar visit to Springfield is planned for later this week. Trek Bicycles sponsored the site visits in an effort to promote bicycling all over the nation. Columbia is a Silver Level BFC, aiming for Gold. Jefferson City hopes to achieve BFC designation soon. And Springfield is Bronze, aiming for Silver.

League staff Steve Clark starts each site visit with a bike ride around the city with City staff and bicyclists from the community. In Columbia, he was interested in the experimental Bicycle Boulevards that contain "advisory" bike lanes down the center of the road, and a protected intersection for people walking and biking that connects two off-set streets in the middle of a busy road.

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Traffic Skills 101: Putting It All Together

Over the past year, I’ve had the pleasure of posting a series of articles here that summarize the League of American Bicyclists Traffic Skills 101 curriculum.  As a League Certified Instructor (LCI #4661), I am passionate about helping cyclists develop the skills necessary to become vehicular bicyclists and use bicycles as their primary means of transportation.  

This is very personal to me.   My wife and I recently sold our home and one of our cars and are reordering our lives so that we can do this ourselves.  It’s a very exciting journey and one I’d like you to join us on.

As part of the Bike League’s Smart Cycling series, Traffic Skills 101 teaches you most everything you need to know to ride safely and with confidence in a variety of traffic situations.  It takes the mystery out of it and helps you become proficient.  What was once difficult to imagine becomes easy and fun once you master it, and Traffic Skills 101 allows you to master cycling on the roads.

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6-year transportation funding bill in Congress: 2015 looks SO much better than 2012

As we reported Monday, the 6-year federal transportation bill has now passed the House, and the three anti-bike/ped/trails amendments were defeated.  The federal bill represents many billions of dollars of funding for transportation across the U.S.--about a billion dollars a year just for Missouri.

The federal transportation reauthorization bill is pass--in theory!--every six years and sets policies, priorities, and funding levels for federal transportation for the next six years.

We last went through this process in 2012.  How does 2015 compare with 2012?

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Success: U.S. House passes 6-year transportation funding bill - preserves funding for biking & walking

Success! The 6-year transportation bill has now passed the House, and the three anti-bike/ped/trails amendments were defeated. Huge thanks to everyone who took the time to contact your member of Congress.

Kevin Mills of the Rails-to-Trails Conservancy summed up what happened with the six-year transportation re-authorization bill in the House:

Despite repeated attacks, core programs that support trails, walking and biking remain untouched since committee leaders introduced their bill three weeks ago. Although the country needs increased investment in trails and active transportation to meet growing demand, maintaining level funding is an encouraging outcome from a House that is deeply divided and unwilling to invest further in transportation. The Senate bill provided for a modest increase in funding, however, so the opportunity remains to negotiate for a little more.

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ALERT: Don't let Congress cut funding for biking, walking, trails - votes Wed & Thurs

After years of preparation and delay, the U.S. House of Representatives is finally ready to pass a 6-year federal transportation package.  This federal transportation reauthorization is the most important bill that sets setting transportation policy and funding priorities for the United States.

Click here to contact your Congressmember to let them know you support biking and walking

The bill recently passed the Senate and now the House is set to vote this week.  The basic bill is pretty good for bicycling and walking, but three key amendments--if approved by the House this week--will decimate bicycle, pedestrian, and trails funding.

Please take time today to contact your member of Congress.  It takes just a couple of minutes.

Click here to contact your Congressmember to let them know you support biking and walking

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ADVOCACY ALERT: Public comment in support of mountain biking in Ozark National Scenic Riverways needed; Public meetings

Missouri's Ozark National Scenic Riverways is currently preparing a road and trail study that will, for the first time on the Scenic Riverways' history, allow mountain biking within the areas' boundaries.

This is a historic opportunity to create a major mountain biking resource in one of the most scenic areas of Missouri--and Missouri's closest equivalent to a National Park.

Public meetings Oct 2015 or leave your comments online

You can find out more about the ONSR's request for public comments, and leave your comments, on the ONSR web site here.

Open house meetings will be 5-8 p.m. each evening. This will be the time to find out about the ONSR, learn about proposals for roads and trails, share your ideas, and offer suggestions.

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