Mo. Rep. Proposes Taking 'Bicycle' Out of Transportation Bill

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JEFFERSON CITY - Rep. Paul Curtman, R- Franklin, suggested an amendment to Missouri's transportation bill that would take the word 'bicycle' out of the list of transportation areas allotted funding.  The proposed bill includes a one percent sales tax that would raise funds for airports, public transit, railroads, water transport, pedestrian traffic and bicycle use. 

 The proposed amendment worried avid bike-rider and Columbia City Council member Ian Thomas who said the state should try to support environmentally friendly transportation, like biking. 

 "A very large number, about 50 percent of journeys in the U.S. are about three miles or less," Thomas said. "Now that's a distance that a lot of people can ride a bicycle. If some of those journeys converted to bicycle journeys instead of driving journeys, that would save an awful lot of wear and tear on the road system."

Thomas rides his bike to and from city hall every day for work as a city council member. He doesn't love bike riding as a recreational activity, but thinks it's a good way to get around.

"Actually I don't particularly like biking. It really is a pragmatic way to get around. I don't see the need to drag half a ton of metal with me when I just go three miles," Thomas said. 

Curtman said the word 'bicycle' should be taken out because fixing bridges and roads should not have to compete with bike trail or bike lane maintenance for funding. 

Rep. Chris Kelly, D-Columbia, said if Curtman's amendment passes, he will oppose the bill because he believes in funding alternative transportation methods. 

Curtman said the general assembly should have a final vote sometime early next week.