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Monday, April 7, 2014

Bike Ban: Rep. Paul Curtman Tries to Cut Bicycles from Missouri Transportation Funding

Posted By on Mon, Apr 7, 2014 at 7:00 AM

click to enlarge A new amendment could restrict bikes from state funding. - TRAILNET ON FLICKR

Missouri's bicycling enthusiasts launched a grassroots campaign over the weekend after a legislator tried to take bicycles off the list of transportation methods eligible for more state funding.

Rep. Paul Curtman, a Republican who represents Franklin County, says he doesn't want roads and bridges to compete with bikes for funds from an upcoming ballot measure for a 1 percent sales tax increase. He filed an amendment Thursday that would eliminate the word "bicycle" from the ballot measure completely.

"Currently in my county (Franklin), we have much-needed bridges that desperately need work and/or are in danger of being closed," Curtman explains. "My amendment won't actually eliminate all the funding for bike infrastructure, but what it will do is prevent from codifying in the Missouri government is the maintenance of local bike trails scattered throughout the state."

See also: Bicycle Ban Bill: Will Missouri Lawmakers Prohibit Cycling on Some State Roads?

Curtman says Missouri's Department of Transportation already offers grant money for infrastructure improvements to bike lanes, so future funding should go to other transportation methods, which, according to the measure, include aviation, mass transportation and railroads.

Curtman's amendment is still on the legislative docket, but the Missouri Bicycle and Pedestrian Federation says there may be good news in stopping it: The amendment doesn't cut funding from bicycle transportation, but it does stop bikes from being eligible for funds from a proposed tax increase that would raise $639 million for the state.

Bicycling advocates decried the proposed amendment as a "sneak attack" and asked bikers across the state to take a stand before the final vote on the ballot measure, scheduled for Monday or Tuesday.

"Cities and states across America are working hard to promote themselves as friendly and inviting for bicycling," pro-bicycling advocates write in a letter to the Missouri Legislature. "If the Missouri House sends the message that bicyclists are not welcome, it hurts our health, economic development and tourism."

Two state representatives -- Chris Kelly, who represents Boone County, and Jeremy LaFaver, of Kansas City -- spoke against the amendment last week.

Curtman's idea to eliminate the word "bicycles" from a plan for transportation funding comes days after Rep. Bart Korman proposed a bill to ban bikes from state-maintained roads in certain cases.

The bill, HB2279, says bikes must stay off roads that have bike lanes nearby unless the bicycle has a motorized escort, the person riding the bike to another residence, a business, a school or public facility, or if the person riding the bike is doing do due to economic hardship.

With only days to have their say over eliminating the word "bicycles" from a ballot measure giving more money to transportation infrastructure improvements, bicycling enthusiasts used the hashtag #SupportMOBiking to spread the word:

Follow Lindsay Toler on Twitter at @StLouisLindsay. E-mail the author at [email protected].

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