Missouri Bicycling, Walking, Running, and Trails News

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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UNBELIEVABLE: St. Charles County tries to prevent O'Fallon from upgrading its own Main Street

Recently, the city of O'Fallon decided to take some major steps to upgrade its main street--making it friendlier for walking, bicycling, businesses, visitors, and motorists via a so-called "Road Diet". Things got ugly when St. Charles County stepped in with a $2.5 million threat if the city implements the project. Now St Louis regional advocacy group Trailnet is stepping up now to defend better communities for walking & biking.

An unbelievable scenerio, as a county pressures a city to take a big step backwards

This is, frankly, one of the most unbelievable scenarios we have seen in many years of advocacy for better communities for walking and bicycling. The city, which is close to the situation and knows its own needs, had gone through a detailed planning process for improving its main street.  The process included public meetings, interviews, and many other forms of public outreach to find out what O'Fallon citizens and businesses really want and need from the project.

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Jackson County & KCATA announce partnership to acquire final piece of cross-state Rock Island-Katy Trail system

Today Jackson County Executive Mike Sanders, the KCATA, and other local partners announced a historic partnership designed to fund acquisition of the final piece of a statewide trail system that has been decades in the works: The 17.7-mile section of the Rock Island Trail that brings the trail into the heart of the Kansas City metro area.

Jackson County's press release gives the details:

Jackson County Executive Mike Sanders and Kansas City Area Transportation Authority President and CEO Joe Reardon announced a cooperative agreement today that will provide the financing necessary for the future acquisition of the 17.7 miles of the Rock Island Corridor from Union Pacific Railroad.

"This is an historic step forward for our entire community. The significance of this announcement, and its potential to shape our county's growth for generations to come, cannot be overstated," said Sanders.

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Enjoying the Ride - Special Situations

Cycling can take many shapes and forms.  Today we look at special situations that come with a unique set of considerations.  These include group rides, riding on multi-use trails and sharing the road with other users. 

Group Rides

Group rides can be one of cycling’s great joys.  There’s nothing like sharing the road with a bunch of like-minded folks.  Riding in a group is different in may ways than riding alone.   Here are a few rules that will ensure your safety and make  your ride more fun.

Never ride more than two abreast.  Most states prohibit this practice.  When traffic conditions warrant, ride single file.   You’ll also want to pay attention to how you communicate with other cyclists in the group.  Use both hand and verbal signals to indicate turns and road hazards.  Be especially careful when passing through intersections.  Remember, each bicyclist is responsible for his or her safety.  Look for approaching traffic before proceeding and always follow all traffic laws.

Multi-Use Trails

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Cross State Rock Island & Katy Trail System: Where are we? What remains to be done?

With the announcement last week that Governor Nixon and Missouri State Parks intends to complete a long-awaited piece of the Katy Trail-Kansas City connection in 2016, it brings up the question: What will it take to actually complete the potential 217 mile Rock Island Trail across Missouri?

What are the different sections of the potential trail?  What other existing trails will they connect to? Who owns each section?  What is the status of each section? 

Proceeding from west to east, the brief summary is this:

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Missouri Transportation Funding: 43 bicycle, pedestrian, trails organizations unite to ask legislators to support bicycling and walking

This summer, forty-three pedestrian, bicycle, trails, health, disability, and community organizations came together to send a united message to more than 400 Missouri elected officials and decision makers.

The sign-on letter went to Missouri legislators, members of Congress, Governor Nixon, MoDOT leadership, and transportation decision-makers across the state.

The letter makes the case for improving walking and bicycling as an important part of any transportation funding plan:

Missouri does not need extensive new or greatly expanded roads or highways. But Missouri does need to:

  • Maintain the road and highway system we have
  • Improve safety for all users of the road system
  • Add transportation choices--such as walking and bicycling--that far too often are simply not available to Missouri residents.

The letter makes specific requests to each official who received the letter, including:

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What can Missouri cities do to improve bicycling and walking? Perspectives from two cities

What can cities do to improve bicycling and walking?  What are the first steps they can take, how can they build support of residents, city staff, and elected officials?  How can they overcome obstacles and objections?  How can they find funding and make effective plans?

Today MoBikeFed was very pleased to be part of a presentation at the 2015 Missouri Municipal League Conference, alongside representatives of Warsaw and Lee's Summit, talking with city and county officials from across Missouri about these issues.

The presentations give a variety of viewpoints about how Missouri cities have integrated bicycling, walking, and trails to make better and more vibrant cities:

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Major Katy/Rock Island progress: Gov Nixon commits to completing Katy Trail connection to Kansas City by 2016

The important multi-decade initiative to connect the Katy Trail system across the state, from state line to state line and to St. Louis and Kansas City metro areas on each end of the state, is will reach a major milestone next year, according to an announcement by Governor Jay Nixon today.

Governor Nixon spoke to trail supporters at the North Jefferson Katy Trailhead at 1:45pm today, with the news that Missouri State Parks is commited to completing the major portion of the Katy Trail connection to Kansas City, on the Rock Island railroad corridor from Windsor to Pleasant Hill, by the end of 2016.  The Governor's press release said:

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Amtrak begins offering bicycle roll-on service on the Capitol Limited

September 14th, Amtrak began offering bicycle roll-on service on the Capitol Limited route, which serves numerous bicycle and trail friendly communities in the eastern U.S.

MoBikeFed has been part of a national coalition of bicycle groups who have been making a concerted effort to improve bicycle roll-on capacity on passenger trains across the U.S.  Bicycle roll-on service has been available on the Missouri River Runner routee, which parallels the Katy Trail across Missouri, since the late 1990s when MoBikeFed leaders approached state legislators and Amtrak officials with the idea.

Bicycle roll-on service is nearly universal on European trains, but still rare on U.S. passenger rail.  Amtrak will be being offering greatly expanded and improved bicycle roll-on service on Missouri routes, including the River Runner, the Southwest Chief, and others, when new rail cars are delivered in the next few years.

We are strongly encouraging Amtrak to expand this pilot project for bicycle roll-on service to many more routes across the U.S. as quickly as possible.

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