A controversy over bicycles has exploded in St. Charles County, Missouri, just outside of St. Louis. Some residents argue that bikes should be banned on the county’s most dangerous roads. This, of course, has been met with strong opposition from riders who enjoy using the area’s hilly, windy roads.
Supporters of the ban argue that using bicycles on certain roads create a dangerous situation for everyone, including those driving cars. One woman at a recent meeting says that her daughter died in an accident that occurred when the young driver turned a curve only to find a bike rider right in front of her. The woman’s daughter swerved to avoid the rider. She then hit a tree and was thrown from the vehicle.
There are some obvious dangers to riding bikes on winding roads, but this does not necessarily mean that bikes should be banned. Alternatives include banning bikes from specific stretches of the most dangerous roads, requiring bicyclists to take certain protective measures, and lowering the speed limit for motorists.
News reports have not even mentioned the possibility of creating bike lanes that would make it easier for motorists and bicyclists to share the road without endangering each other.
The legal issue goes beyond whether the county should ban bikes. There is also a question of whether the county even has the authority to ban bikes on its roads.
According to the Missouri Department of Transportation, state law gives them control over roads built using state funds. That would include the major roads in St. Charles County. Melissa Anderson of MoDOT adds that the ban is unenforceable and that MoDOT will refuse to give the county permission to post signs preventing bike travel on state roads.
Supporters of the ban argue that the county’s home-rule charter gives it authority to ban bikes.
Bikers in the region have quite a lot to lose with this ban. The ban would prevent them from traveling freely without motor vehicles while eliminating some of the most challenging roads in the area from their training schedules.