How in Good Conscience Can St. Charles County, Missouri Ban Bicycles?
The government motto of St.
Charles County, Missouri is "character, professionalism and
conscience." So how in good conscience can one of the country’s fastest-growing counties be seriously considering a ban on bicycles on some of its most popular routes?
The proposal from a local politician — via Jonathan Maus at Bike Portland
— is being touted as a safety measure: shoulderless rural highways in
St. Charles are too narrow for anything but cars. So rather than figure
out a way to accommodate bicyclists and improve safety, Councilmember
Joe Brazil wants an outright ban.
Maus found the above local TV news video on the story "scary and surreal":
Have we really come to a point when we will simply give our roads
over to the fastest vehicles? This same line of reasoning could be used
to close all types of roads where there are fast-moving cars and no
room for anything else.
I feel for the young woman who was hurt trying to avoid someone on a
bike, but using that example as a reason to ban people riding bikes is
absurd. How many deaths and injuries have occurred on those same roads
between two people in cars? Rural roads are the main cause of traffic
fatalities in America. We should do more to ban speeding than to ban
people using a vehicle that is incapable of it…
Everyone frames this as "motorists" and "bicyclists" — but this is
not about mode labels, this is about people and mobility. Our shared
roads (being different from interstate highways and biking trails) are
built to move people from one place to another. It’s an
extremely slippery slope to even consider policy that would ban one
type of user simply because they travel more slowly than another and
are seen as an inconvenience to maintaining a certain speed.
Fortunately, a voice of reason has emerged, but St. Charles County officials are vowing to push ahead and defend the proposal.
Elsewhere around the network, Spacing Toronto celebrates the recent arrival of on-street bike parking while Greater Greater, Washington
finds WMATA employees blocking bike racks with their cars. And any
transit rider who has fumbled for change will appreciate a new
sculpture in St. Louis featured on nextstop.