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.
Bryan Goebel is a reporter at KQED Public Radio in San Francisco. A veteran journalist and writer, he helped launch Streetsblog SF in 2009 and served as editor for three years. He lives car-free in the Castro District.