Missouri Bicycling, Walking, Running, and Trails News

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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Safe Cycling: 3 Ways to Get More Out of Each Ride

As a League of American Bicyclists Certified Instructor (LCI #4661), I teach people how to ride in traffic.  A big part of it is about learning to safely coexist with cars, trucks, buses and even other cyclists.  Traffic can be pretty intimidating for most folks until they get used to it.  
But it’s about more than just safety.  It’s also about how to ride well because when we ride well, cycling becomes more fun.   Here are three easy ways to ride better and have more fun cycling as a result.
Use all of your gears to better control cadence and ride further and faster with less effort.
Focus on Cadence, not Speed
Do you want to go faster and further while feeling more relaxed?  Then focus on cadence instead of speed!  Cadence is your pedaling rate measured in revolutions per minute.  Keep it as steady as possible…ideally between 75 and 95 revolutions per minute, even if it means dropping to a lower gear and slowing down when climbing hills or pedaling into the wind.
How can you tell what your cadence is?  A cycling computer will measure it for you.
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Safe Cycling: Hazard Avoidance Maneuvers

If you cycle on roads surrounded by motor vehicles, you already know just how important it is to follow traffic laws and anticipate problems before they occur.  Doing so will go a long way towards keeping you safe.  Many cyclists ride an entire lifetime without having any serious encounters with cars.  Here’s hoping you’re one of them.
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Missouri Rock Island Trail hires first Executive Director

The Missouri Rock Island Trail, Inc. (MORIT) has hired Greg Harris of Rolla, an experienced fundraiser, as its first executive director.

The Gasconade County Republican wrote:

Missouri Rock Island Trail, Inc., (MORIT) board members hired Greg Harris of Rolla as MORIT’s first executive director at the June 1 board meeting in Stover, Mo. 

Board members discussed the possibility of hiring an executive director at the March meeting as Chrysa Niewald, MORIT presi- dent, said the work was becoming too much for the board president and volunteers.

After reviewing Harris’s application, the board believed he would make a good fit.

“The board unanimously approved the decision and feels it gives credibility to the board as we move forward,” Niewald said.

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Action Alert: Let MoDOT know YOUR priorities for I-70 innovation and MoDOT's future direction

Recently, MoDOT announced a visioning process for the I-70 corridor.  MoDOT is asking Missourians to submit their innovative ideas and vision for what I-70 should be.  With MoDOT currently undertaking a national search for a new MoDOT Director, the direction the agency takes on I-70 is likely to set the tone for MoDOT's immediate future.

TAKE ACTION: Take a few minutes to let MoDOT know your thoughts about the future of the I-70 corridor--and please include some of the innovative ideas we suggest below.

Take Action: What innovations for I-70 can you suggest that will improve bicycling and walking along this corridor?

Please take the time to respond to MoDOT's request for innovation on the I-70 corridor on its Road to Tomorrow website.

Below are some suggested innovations that you can submit to MoDOT:

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Advocacy Result: Complete Streets, Roll-On Bicycle in Senate Transportation Bill; TIGER out for now

Passage of the federal transportation reauthorization bill--which has had a very rocky time over the past half dozen years--took a major step forward today.  The Senate Commerce Committee passed its portion of the act, which contains several important provisions affecting bicycling and walking. Missouri Senators Blunt and McCaskill are both on the Commerce Committee and played a key role in the negotiations that led to the bill's passage today.

What went right?

First--the positives:

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Staying Safe in Traffic: What Cyclists Need to Know

Of all the things that keep non-cyclists from saddling up and riding, none is greater than the fear of being struck by a motor vehicle.  I understand.  It wasn’t too long ago that I felt the same way.  Now, not so much.  Part of the reason why is that I’ve ridden a lot of miles on the road.  I’ve also learned what’s likely to happen and how to avoid the bad stuff.  That’s what I want to share with you today.
First things first.  If you ride safely and with confidence, the odds of being struck by a motor vehicle are pretty low.  In fact, approximately 50% of all bicycle-automobile crashes are the fault of the cyclist, and these are 100% avoidable.   Ride with traffic, not against it.  Follow all traffic laws all the time, not just when somebody’s looking.  Pay particular attention around intersections and driveways.  Assume they can’t see you.  These easy steps you can take that will reduce the risk of a crash by close to 50% and they’re entirely within your control.
So what else do you need to know?  Here’s a short list to keep in mind before you head out for your next ride.
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How to start your community on the path to official Walk Friendly Community recognition - information and resources

Walk Friendly Communities is a relatively new national program dedicated to creating and recognizing cities that are working to create a great walking environment for their citizens.

The Kansas City area is taking steps to become a national leader in the Walk Friendly Communities movement, and we encourage cities all across Missouri to follow suit and work towards officially recognized Walk Friendly Community status.

Earlier this month, the Mid-America Council (MARC), KC Health Kids, and the City of Grandview organized a Walk Friendly Communities training. A large number of communities from across the Kansas City area were represented--and a few communities from across Missouri and Kansas.

Now MARC has released the materials from the training, which allow any community to start to move forward towards Walk Friendly Community recognition:

Walk Friendly Communities is a national program that recognizes communities that show commitment to improving walkability and pedestrian safety with a comprehensive set of programs, plans and policies. The program can award different levels of recognition: Bronze, Silver, Gold or Platinum.

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ALERT: Federal funding for bicycling and walking under attack in Washington DC--by Missouri Congresswoman Vicky Hartzler

Federal funding for bicycling and walking--the primary funding source for better, safer bicycling and walking in America (and Missouri) today--is currently under attack in the U.S. House of Representatives.

Unfortunately, Missouri Congresswoman Vicky Hartzler has played a key role in this--most recently, she has  co-sponsored a bill to completely eliminate the Transportation Alternatives Program, the primary source of federal transportation funding for biking and walking. 

We need to send a strong message to Missouri members of Congress on this -- especially include Congresswoman Hartzler.  We need Missouri's members of Congress to take a leadership role in SUPPORTING biking and walking, not opposing it.

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Bicycle Handling Skills are an Important Part of Safe Cycling

One way to assure that you stay safe while riding is to understand and practice the proper techniques of bicycle handling.  This isn't always intuitive and you probably were never taught this when you first learned to ride a bicycle.  If you're like most people you've adapted over time.

Bicycle handling is important because it's one of the ways you communicate with other road users while on the bike.  If you appear confident and in control in traffic, you're sending a subtle yet powerful message that you belong on the road.  Unfortunately, the opposite is also true.  Here are the critical skills to focus on and practice in order to better handle your bicycle and become a more complete cyclist.

Starting and Stopping

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Bicycle Friendly State Rankings: Missouri remains 34th in rank, gains 4 points; What is our priority list for improving our ranking?

The League of American Bicyclists has announced the Bicycle Friendly State scores and rankings for 2015.  Missouri is still 34th out of the 50 states in rankings, though we gained 4 points (out of 100) from 2014 to 2015--a significant gain.  The 2015 score sheet for Missouri summarizes Missouri's ranking and goals.

In general, the trend that we have seen since Missouri reached its high water mark in the BFS state rankings (17th in 2009) continues: Missouri is improving the situation for bicycling slowly, but other states are improving their bicycle accommodations much faster.

Thus, Missouri scores noticeably better than last year--a 4 point increase is more than 10% in a single year--but our state ranking does not change because the 33 states ahead of us are improving even faster.

So we have our work cut our for us--because people want to live and like to live where they and their families can walk and bicycle safely. 

What changes do we need to make to improve bicycle safety and access in Missouri--to bring Missouri on par with other states, and to reach our goal of Gold Level Bicycle Friendly status for Missouri?

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