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Thursday, February 08, 2007

Cycling issues in Missouri

There's good news and bad news regarding cycling on the Missouri side of the St. Louis Metropolitan Area.

First, the good news: The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported Wednesday that work on an additional 11 miles of the Katy Trail in St. Charles County should begin this summer. Gov. Matt Blunt announced Wednesday that the state and the local levee district have finally reached an agreement on completing the section of trail from St. Charles north to Machens.

Blunt said the state has asked Ameren Corp. to let the state use an old Rock Island Railroad bed it owns as part of the trail, the Post-Dispatch This would extend the trail from Windsor, east of Clinton, to Pleasant Hill, a suburb of Kansas City.

Now, the bad news: Fritz's Cycle-licious blog has picked up on the controversy raised by some cyclists about the plans to divert motorized traffic from Interstate 64/U.S. Highway 40 onto Clayton Road, a popular road with St. Louis County cyclists, during the reconstruction of I-64/U.S. 40.

I haven't written about the topic because I thought it was being handled well by the Missouri Bicycle Federation and the St. Louis Regional Bicycle Federation forums. Since I don't have a lot of first-hand experience riding on St. Louis County roads -- the bulk of my local riding is done on Illinois roads and trails -- I'm not sure how qualified I am to offer an opinion.

The concerns is that the plan for Clayton Road to handle some of the I-64/U.S. 40 would eliminate the wide lanes popular with cyclists, and there are fears that the altered lanes would become permanent once the highway work is done.

Garry Earls, St. Louis County's chief highway engineer, told one member of STLBikeFed:
... St. Louis County has neither considered nor proposed that bicycle traffic be banned on public roads. We know that in a perfect world, the masses would embrace bicycle riding as their regular mode of transportation. It's good for the heart and good for the planet. We don't live in a perfect world. In the real world, our community is composed of a diverse population measured from any statistic. It is clear that commuter patterns and family composition establish a level of motor vehicle traffic on our roads that cannot be swept away by any transportation planner's idealism. The reality of our circumstances is that for an extremely high percentage of our road users, the 10-speed simply isn't an option for traveling to work or getting children to school.
And that is the crux of the issue: Is the greater good served by providing options that serve the populace as it now stands, or is it better served by options that change the way people approach transportation in the region?

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Roger 1 comments links to this post 12:31 AM

According to some of the commentary I've read, MoDOT and St. Louis planners have missed out on an opportunity to design for the future transportation needs of the area. I-64, I admit, is an archaic mess and I'm sure the new freeway will be nice. But wow, the complete lack of will to even consider other modes of transportation is troubling.

Some irony that you report on California issues and I report on Missouri :-)
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