UPDATED: Missouri Pols Launch Sneak Attack on Bike Funding

UPDATE (April 8, 2014 at 1:37 p.m.): The Missouri Bicycle and Pedestrian Federation reports that the amendment featured below has failed. Yay!

The state of Missouri is aiming to bridge its transportation funding shortfall with a 1 percent sales tax that will generate $8 billion over 10 years. Rather than raising the gas tax, this regressive tax will force people who don’t drive to subsidize roads — and for good measure it will also forbid tolling on two major highways.

Missouri State Represenative Paul Curtman wants to make cycling ineligible for new transportation funding. Photo: Missouri House of Represenatives

Missouri State Representative Paul Curtman wants to make bike projects ineligible for new transportation funding. Photo: Missouri House of Representatives

The upside of the bill is that it’s also supposed to provide new funds for critically needed walking, biking, and transit projects. But even though everyone will be paying this new sales tax, a few state legislators think none of the revenue should go toward bike projects, reports Brent Hugh at the Missouri Bicycle and Pedestrian Federation:

Rep. [Paul] Curtman’s amendment is to remove the word “bicycle” from HJR 68. HJR 68 allows MoDOT, cities, and counties to spend the state transportation funds on “transportation system purposes and uses.”  Those are defined in HJR 68 and Curman’s amendment simply removes the word “bicycle” from that definition.

That leaves every other major type of transportation identified by Missourians in over a year’s worth of outreach by MoDOT to every county in Missouri represented in the text of HJR 68 — except for bicycling. This is very clearly intended to send a message to MoDOT and to bicyclists in Missouri, that we are not welcome and that state funds should not be spent on our behalf.

This was truly a sneak attack by a few House members on Missouri’s bicycling community. They waited until the last minute to introduce their language, made it nearly impossible to understand, and tagged it onto an innocuous amendment that bill supporters had already approved.

So now the light of day is the best antidote to those dark and deceptive tactics. Help us spread the word on social media that Missouri bicyclists are not happy about this treatment. We expect and demand better from our representatives.

The proposed legislation would also forbid cyclists from riding on streets if there is a nearby sidepath. The Missouri Bike Federation and the League of American Bicyclists are calling on supporters to reach out to the legislators or sound off on the legislation on social media.

Elsewhere on the Network today: SFTransit provides data to support the idea that tech companies are migrating toward urban centers. In a review of Charles Montgomery’s book Happy City, Vibrant Bay Area gleans a lesson on our evolutionary drive for consumption and how it may have fueled sprawl at the expense of happiness. And Wash Cycle calls out a local leader for saying that bike projects don’t deserve support because “you don’t see bikes when it snows.”