Missouri: 15 foot fluorescent flag for cyclists

Where do people come up with these silly ideas?

Missouri House Bill 2046 - 2016 session

Missouri 10th 43rd District Representative Jay Houghton introduced this bill which would require a florescent flag for cyclists riding on a “lettered county road.” This flag must be suspended at least 15 feet above the roadway. This is more than many bridge clearances, would create a hazard when operating around above ground electric utilities, and probably result in a bicycle that’s nearly impossible to ride. Mr Jay Houghton clearly hates children and old people.

No committee hearings are scheduled, but it’s worth keeping on eye on since this bill would effectively ban bicycles from county roads. Houghton co-sponsored a previous attempt to ban bikes from Missouri roads. Houghton represents a rural portion of central Missouri east of Columbia and mostly north of I-70.


Columbia, Missouri PedNet Coalition reached out to Commissar Houghton regarding their concerns. Houghton, predictably, claims this bill will improve safety for cyclists. One way to reduce cycling fatalities is to create a rule that’s impossible to comply with. Overall road fatalities, however, will increase, since more people will drive more miles to get around in Missouri.

The Missouri Bike Federation asks constituents to please respond to his bill with politeness and persuasiveness. Houghton claims his flag requirement will improve safety for all, but onerous requirements on cyclists will shift travel modes resulting in more traffic on county roads, which in turn increases danger for all road users, including those who drive.

Kansas City Walk Bike features Houghton’s 15 foot flagpole rule in their list of 2016 legislation for Kansas and Missouri.

Missouri’s lettered county roads

The 20,000 miles of “lettered county roads” are the state system of supplementary roads. When these county roads were initially created in the 1920s, transportation officials designated these roads with letters instead of numbers so the local yokels wouldn’t confuse them with a state highway.

The state took this system of farm-to-market routes over in 1952, with the goal of providing a state-maintained road within 2 miles of more than 95% of all farm houses, schools, churches, cemeteries and stores. Missouri surpassed this goal, creating one of the largest state-maintained highway systems in America. Compare against the state of Texas, which has three times the area of Missouri and four times the population, but only twice the centerline miles of state-maintained Farm-to-Market and Ranch-to-Market roads.

Once you build the system, you have to maintain it. This highway system now has a road maintenance backlog approaching $1 billion per year.


  1. And what is wrong with neon colored jerseys and red flashing lights on the bike? I just won’t ride in Missouri anymore if this happens. I live in South Kansas and ride in MO quite a bit.

  2. I’d actually like to see a 15 foot flag on a bicycle. Then watch out for overpasses.

    Why 15 feet? Is it to protect the bicyclist from passing aircraft?

  3. Is this guy trying to get people killed? There is a minimum of 14ft for utility companies to hang power wires crossing roads. So if someone is riding a bike on a rainy day hits a power line and dies, is this guy accountable for that persons future issues or even death? This guy is idiotic!

  4. I suppose he got this good idea from the same fairy that thought Soldiers wearing reflective PT belts while in combat is a good thing! Maybe put these on motorcyclists next??

  5. HOW does that BIG of a FOOL ever get elected to public office.???

    15 feet in the air.?? You wouldn’t even be able to ride under a bridge/overpass – much less down a tree covered street or road. – Not to mention the aerodynamic drag.

    What planet is that alien (Jay Houghton) from, anyway??

    The obvious alternative is Holographic Projectors projecting GIANT images of dinosaurs. In other words, projecting an image of Jay himself. :- ) :- )

  6. To really reduce injuries, all road vehicles should be limited to the UCI weight limit! Reducing mass is a proven way to reduce impact force.

  7. WTF, is this guy smoking?!?! One way to fight this IF it does get passed. Is to have a multiple group rides going down a lettered county road sans flags. Each group consisting of say 20 – 30 riders.

    Imagine the police reaction when they have to cite 100’s of cyclists for failing to have a 15′ flag pole on their bike? And once the tickets are issued they all go en mass to the courthouse to pay their fines.

    How long before the courts and cops demand that this “brilliant” law be repelled?

  8. No matter how high the flag is the wind would create instability and probably kill someone. maybe there should be a law prohibiting farm vehicles on the road between the hours of 6 a.m. and 9 p.m. Or a law prohibiting uncovered semis carrying grain. Increase the state taxes on guns and ammo to pay for the flags. He’s on the stinking tourism board and he wants to eliminate biking?

  9. This law follows nicely in a state where rape can be classified as legitimate or, not, but still be rape. It also does a lot to keep Missouri well ranked in the “Stupid States of America” classifications, unwittingly making educated people apprehensive of moving or visiting there. Evidently Houghton likes kind of image for his state…. https://youtu.be/qf1rZ8E3ToM?t=11s.

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