Plans are in the works to boost transportation funding in Missouri, and your voice is needed to ensure biking and walking are including. Attend one of MoDOT's "Listening Sessions" to suggest specific bike/ped projects and bigger picture policy improvements. Currently Missouri spends virtually zero state funds on biking and walking, this year we have an opportunity to change that.
What to ask for:
1. An equitable balance of transportation funding – walking and bicycling account for 6.5% of trips in Missouri, but only receive 1.8% of state transportation funding
2. Make walking and bicycling a regular part of new transportation projects, and prioritize projects that address gaps or barriers
3. Update MoDOT's outdated bike policy and make bike/ped a meaningful part of its long range strategic plan
4. Finish MoDOT's abandoned bike/ped master plan for the Kansas City region
5. Suggest your own specific projects on, adjacent to, or across a state highway – e.g. a Missouri River crossing in eastern Jackson/Clay Counties, bike lanes on Bannister Road, add that bike/ped path the new Paseo Bridge, etc.
Why this is important
- People who walk or bike represent a disproportionate share of Missouri injuries and fatalities. Even though walking and biking are 6.5% of trips in the state, they are 7.5% of fatalities and 15% of injuries.
- Bicycle and pedestrian crash rates are increasing as automobile crash rates are decreasing
- Lack of safe and accessible places to walk and bike are significant factors in Missouri's high ranking for obesity, heart disease, and Type II Diabetes – especially among children
- In 1969, 50% of kids walked and bike to school. Today it's less than 15%
- Today's children are the first generation in American history with a lower life expectancy than their parents
- Missouri’s 316 bike retailers provide 1300 jobs and pump $128 million into the state’s economy each year
- More than 1.6 million visit Missouri to bike and hike each year. As the Katy Trail moves towards completion, it's time to start investing in connecting more towns to the trail
- Global companies increasingly consider walking and biking options when deciding where to locate and expand
- The 21st century workforce of talented and creative people are moving to places with high quality walking and biking
The Missouri General Assembly is debating a 1% sale tax for transportation, and these listening sessions are part of MoDOT's process to decide how new funding would be spent. It is critical that the result includes both a high level commitment to equitable bike/ed funding, and a list of specific, tangible bike/ped projects across the state.
The Missouri Constitution limits the current gas tax to the state highway system. While some small amount of state funds go to bike/ped facilities in conjunction with state highways, there is no formal state funding for bike/ped. Passenger rail (Amtrak) and public transit are also prohibited from state transportation funding and must rely on yearly appropriations from the state's general fund. Public transit funding has dwindled to almost zero in recent years.
The question of sales tax
Many Missouri are concerned about rising sales tax rates. In many parts of the Kansas City region, sales tax is approaching 10%. Local cities rely on sales tax for things like local streets, community centers, transit, etc. Jackson County is preparing to ask voters for 1% sales tax to increase transit and trails. Even though Missouri has one of the lowest gas taxes in the country, the General Assembly is moving forward with raising the sales tax. Despite these concerns, BikeWalkKC is fighting to ensure walking and biking are included however transportation is funded.
The current bills in the General Assembly would allow, for the first time, spending state transportation funds on walking, biking, transit, and passenger rail. Now we have ensure that all of those modes are actually included in the list of projects that MoDOT is creating.
If a sales tax passes the General Assembly, Missouri voters will have the final say in August or November of this year.