Moving Toward Better Biking in 2020
We kicked off the new year with a panel discussion led by Trailnet CEO Cindy Mense in conversation with leaders who understand the keys to creating a transportation network that’s fit for all. More than 40 advocates joined us to talk about what a more active transportation system will look like.
Mike Weiss, owner of Big Shark Bicycle Company and Big Shark Events, talked about how safety on the streets impacts bike shops, the people who ride bikes, and how he’s getting kids on bikes. Scott Ogilvie, Transportation Policy Planner with the City of St. Louis, shared what St. Louis is doing to improve safety for people on bikes, including policy updates and the latest on new infrastructure. Ann Falker, BJC, Clinical Nurse Specialist, expert cyclist and daily bike commuter, discussed her experience riding on the streets of St. Louis. Trailnet’s Director of Policy Taylor March talked about the most effective methods for building safer streets and the barriers to funding them.
Safety was the theme of the night, but panelists made clear that with safe streets, come better communities. Ann Falker helped attendees understand that Complete Streets (streets meant for all users) are connected to the overall health of our community. She said Complete Streets keeps families in our cities by giving them places to “walk, hop, skip, and bike” in their neighborhoods.
Scott Ogilvie spoke about the barriers to improving St. Louis streets for all users, noting that while there is a lot more willingness across the region to make streets safer, there are two main hindrances: government fragmentation and the ability to pay for projects.
“The limitation to change is no longer the desire of city departments, it’s funding,” Ogilvie said. “We’re headed in in the right direction.”
Trainet Policy Director Taylor March also spoke about funding for safer streets, noting transportation funding does little to support those who walk and bike. “Only one percent of U.S. Transportation funding goes toward walking and biking,” March said. “But those users experience significant levels of injuries and fatalities.”
Panelists also discussed the divisive Slay Balls that have appeared at city intersections over the past few years. Despite the controversy, studies have shown these barriers have caused a decrease in crashes.
Another controversial subject of the night was red light cameras. On the topic of why cities employ the use of red light cameras, Ogilvie said, “They are ideally used to reduce injuries and fatalities for all users… after red light cameras were overturned by the Missouri Supreme Court, pedestrian fatalities doubled in St Louis.”
Driving laws also came up during the discussion. Panelists agreed Missouri needs laws to prohibit texting and driving. Currently, Missouri is one of only two states that allow texting while driving.
Panelists also talked about how investing in safer streets is an important part of fighting global climate change. Mike Weiss touched on how, outside of catering to those who walk, use mobility devices, or bike, updated infrastructure supports Ebikes and scooters, both of which are increasing in popularity and don’t require the use of a car.
Cindy Mense outlined three key takeaways after moderating the event:
- St. Louis has momentum and we have potential when we work together to meet the needs of all users
- We are making progress in streets designs, traffic control measures and attitudes are changing
- There is legislation at every level that needs your voice- join us and demand safer streets for all