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Missouri House Weighs Role Of Bike Travel In Transportation Spending

Flickr/Jeremy Noble

Missouri lawmakers are weighing what role bicycles should play in the future of transportation spending. 

A proposedconstitutional amendment would raise the state sales tax by a penny to bridge any anticipated shortfalls over the next ten years. Most of the money would be for roads and bridges, but 10 percent could be earmarked by local governments for alternative forms of transportation including bicycle, air, rail, and pedestrian projects.

On Thursday, Rep. Paul Curtman of Pacific introduced an amendment removing bicycles from the list.

“We don’t want to make a constitutional case that the state of Missouri should handle all the bike trails across the state because a lot of them are handled at the local level,” he said.

“We want to make sure that this money is first appropriated to the core function of state government which is roads and bridges, etc.”

But, Rep. Chris Kelly of Columbia delayed a vote on the bill until next week.  

“To some extent, it’s the people who see the future against the people who just think the bicyclists are some kind of evil hippies,” he said.

“My folks – the bike folks – are now at the table and they’re going to be pushed away from that table over my dead body.”

Kelly has argued that consensus is widespread among Missourians for devoting more money to bicycling infrastructure.

If passed by the General Assembly, the measure would need final approval from voters this fall.