As a reader from St. Louis suggests, “crazy season has come early to Missouri.”
At least that’s the case for one legislator, Republican Rep. Jay Houghton of Martinsburg.It started with his HB 2046, which would require all bicycles using “lettered” county roads to display a fluorescent orange flag suspended 15 feet above the road when the bicycle is standing upright.
If you’ve ever bicycled in Missouri, you know these lettered county roads are everywhere. The TransAmerica Trail uses them almost exclusively. I get the impression that Houghton must be worried about low-flying aircraft colliding with bicyclists using these roads.
The bill is still sitting there in the hopper. It hasn’t been assigned to a committee or been the subject of a hearing. Yet.
It doesn’t stop there, however. Rep. Houghton also submitted House Bill 2047, which would allow ATVs (all terrain vehicles) and golf carts to be used by disabled people or those over 55 on the Katy Trail on the first and third Wednesdays of the month.
The 238-mile-long Katy Trail is one of the nation’s premier rail-trails with many towns along its route that benefit from bicycle tourism to the tune of $18 million a year. It was named a Hall of Fame Trail by Rails to Trails Conservancy and has been designated a Millennium Legacy Trail.
Putting ATVs and golf carts on this gravel trail just sounds like a bad idea. And it will be costly.
According to the Missouri Bicycle and Pedestrian Foundation, the research division of the Missouri legislature said the trail isn’t wide enough for two golf carts to pass each other and needs widening to 14 feet. The cost for a new base, ballast and surface, if contracted out, would be about $168,000 per mile … This does not include what it would cost to modify our bridge decks.”
A vote by the Conservation and Natural Resources Committee was scheduled Monday, but postponed.
Brent Hugh at MoBikeFed urges bicyclists to contact their legislators and explain why this is a bad bill. He gives directions about how to contact the legislators here.
I’d imagine they’d also like to hear from out-of-state bicyclists who might be changing their Katy Trail bike tourism plans because of the bill.