Bike Advocates Push for More Funding

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JEFFERSON CITY - The Missouri Bicycle and Pedestrian Federation met at the state capitol Monday to award policy-makers and advocates for their work on major projects in their communities.

The group also met with lawmakers to discuss a one-cent state sales tax increase to fund improvements to infrastructure for trains, planes and automobiles.  But, the Missouri Bicycle and Pedestrian Federation hopes some of the funds will also go to projects for bikers and walkers.

Representatives from the federation took a group of lawmakers on a six-mile round trip ride from the capitol to the Katy Trail access north of the Missouri River to show off the new bike path on the river bridge.

Ian Thomas, former Executive Director of Columbia's PedNet Coalition, received an award for his work in advocating for Columbia's "complete streets" policy. Thomas said he hopes some of the funding from a one-cent sales tax increase would help create more sustainable infrastructure.

"It's my understanding looking over the last several decades that we built a somewhat unsustainable system," Thomas said."I do believe that bicycling and walking are very significant transportation modes in cities, and by making walking and bicycling safer, and more attractive and convenient, we can actually reduce the cost of transportation across the state."

The federation honored Phil Broyles, the Director of Public Works in Springfield, for added bike lanes to nine miles of roads in Springfield. The group also honored Todd Antoine, the Director of Planning for the Great Rivers Greenway District in St. Louis. St. Louis City and County voters approved a three-sixteenths of a cent sales tax increase on April 2nd to fund improvements to the arch grounds and trail system. Antoine's group will receive $11.4 million in annual funding for the trails from the levy.

Advocates said the state should continue to implement complete street policies, which call for streets that accommodate all types of potential traffic. According to the federation, 1.6 million Missourians now live in a city with a complete street policy.

The Missouri House and Senate have considered a temporary one-cent sales tax increase to fund transportation projects around the state, which the federation supports as a means to enhance sustainable transportation around the state.

Thomas said GetAbout Columbia has helped the city become a national leader in bike and pedestrian friendly transportation. However, Thomas said more funding would help the city do even more.

"50 percent of all journeys in the U.S. are three miles or less and 25 percent are one mile or less. Yet, very few of those journeys are currently taking by walking or bicycling, Thomas said. "In Columbia, we can be a leader in shifting a lot of those journeys to much less expensive modes that don't contribute to traffic congestion."