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Cyclists And Pedestrians Urged To 'Be Brave,' Advocate For Safer Roads

Advocates for bicyclists and pedestrians say they want to make 2013 the year Missouri passes a law banning texting while driving for everyone behind the wheel.

But those advocates, along with mass transit, city police and Missouri Department of Transportation officials also pushed all users of the road to take personal responsibility as they kicked off the second annual Safe Roads for All campaign on Monday.

"First and foremost, if you're a vehicle driver, take your time. Share the road," said police chief Sam Doston. "You're a latecomer to the game. And then to cyclists - make sure that you share the road as well. And to both of you, don't talk on your cell phones and don't text while you're cycling. "

He also told pedestrians to pay attention to their surroundings rather than phone conversations.

Susan Scott's son Sam was one of the 60 or so pedestrians and cyclists killed on state roads in 2012 when he was struck by a drunk driver while commuting home from work on his bike.

Sam, she said, was the kind of person who was brave enough to stand up for others, and urged those in attendance to do the same.

"My call to action to you is to be brave like Sam," Scott said through tears. "If you have a friend or family member who's drunk, don't let them drive. Don't text, or if you're in a car with someone who's texting, be brave, tell them to stop, that you're not comfortable. Bicyclists, be brave, and be safe. Make sure that you’re following the rules of the road. And all of you advocates, be strong, be brave like Sam. Advocate for safer roads.”

Ann Mack of Trailnet says in addition to a blanket ban on texting while driving, her group will be encouraging the construction of bike lanes that are physically separated from vehicle traffic, rather than just painted on roads.

Mack says she also wants to change the words used to describe car-free commuting.

"First of all, let's say in 2013, we no longer call walking and biking alternative, because I think we were walking and biking long before we were driving cars," she said. "If nothing else, if it's not you personally who wants to ride, know that the millennials, those 25-to-35-year-olds, are looking for cities that are transit and bicycling and walking-oriented."

Follow Rachel Lippmann on Twitter: @rlippmann

Rachel is the justice correspondent at St. Louis Public Radio.