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January 18, 2016

Jefferson City Lawmaker calls for big flags on bikes

Bike FlagsSt. Louis Post Dispatch – January 18, 2016 10:38 am  •  

JEFFERSON CITY • Beginning in August, Missouri bicyclists would have to attach a brightly colored flag to their bikes if they want to take a spin down a county road under a proposal introduced in the state Legislature.

The measure, sponsored by state Rep. Jay Houghton, R-Martinsburg, would require every bike operating on a lettered county road to be equipped with a fluorescent orange flag “suspended at least 15 feet above the roadway.”

Houghton has argued his idea will make roadways safer by making bicyclists more visible, but biking groups say it’s an idea that has little merit.

The Missouri Bicycle and Pedestrian Foundation is already gearing up to fight the idea. On its website, the group is calling on bicyclists to attend a lobbying day at the Capitol on April 11 to “ensure that our rights and our safety are protected.”

The bill “will not help the safety situation for bicyclists or drivers, will be impossible to enforce and comply with, and is intended as another backhanded way to keep cyclists off the road,” the group noted.

At the Hub Bicycle Company in Webster Groves, co-owner Alex Bischoff said the proposal could result in fewer recreational opportunities for Missourians and bicyclists riding through the state on cross-country trips.

“I would be against anything that reduces access to those roads,” Bischoff said. “I would say that although the proposal is couched as a way to improve safety, it’s a hidden attempt to reduce cyclists’ access to the roads where they have a legal right to ride.”

Bischoff said if the problem lies with motorists who feel inconvenienced because they have to slow down for a bicyclists, they should remember that they have to reduce speed for farm vehicles.

“There have always been people who try to legislate against certain recreational activities,” Bischoff said.

Houghton, who has previously raised questions about the safety of bicycling on rural county roads, did not return telephone messages. The proposal has not been scheduled for debate in a House committee.

The legislation is House Bill 2046.

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