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New bike restrictions likely to pass in St. Charles

(Wikimedia Commons user Lukas 3z)

By Rachel Lippmann, St. Louis Public Radio

St. Louis – The St. Charles County Council is expected approve legislation on Tuesday that puts new restrictions on cyclists in the county.

The proposals evolved from an all-out ban on biking on certain roads that Councilman Joe Brazil introduced in July. One measure requires rear flashing red lights and mirrors when cyclists are riding on the county's most dangerous roads - the county is drafting maps that list preferred routes for cyclists. Organized rides of more than 25 people that want to close streets, run red lights, or use a car to impede or slow traffic would require a permit.

Brazil said he introduced the ban after getting phone calls from motorists who said riders were making it unsafe to drive on some county roads, many of which are narrow and winding, with little to no shoulder.

Even though it would have been effective at making the roads safer, he said, the ban set a bad precedent.

"We don't want okay, so this area may work but then what about the next group of politicians that wants these roads banned. And for that reason, we see a lot of problems with the ban issue, so it just wasn't the way to go right now," he said.

Biking advocacy groups reacted with caution. Brent Hugh, the executive director of the Missouri Bicycle and Pedestrian Foundation, said the measures were better than an all-out ban.

But, Hugh said, the requirements for lights and mirrors set Missouri apart from the rest of the country.

"We've got two national bicycle routes that come through St. Charles County," he said. "They come into St. Charles County and find out, oh, well now my lights have to be visible from the side in a different way."

Hugh said the wording of the permitting requirements could also inadvertently apply to friends who ride together informally on the weekend, though Brazil said that was never his intent.

The restrictions would apply to state and county roads in St. Charles County, though the Missouri Department of Transportation said they cannot be enforced on state roads.


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