Category Archives: Bicycle Law News

Post Ferguson Fear of the Grand Jury: Fox 2 Questions Trial Attorney Michelle Funkenbusch On Move to Grand Jury of Furrer’s Felony Case

Is a Grand Jury still Grand???

Reporter Andy Banker  from Fox 2 stopped by the office this afternoon to talk about the move of Mayor Mark Furrer’s case to a grand jury at the last minute from a preliminary hearing.  As you know, the proceedings are secret and we cannot watch or be part of the process as the law firm for the victim. We represent cyclist Randy Murdick who alleges the Mayor of Sunset Hills intentionally ran him off the road. Reporter Banker was wondering if we have concerns over the last minute move to a grand jury.

While I do not have blind faith in the legal process, I do, in fact, have faith in our justice system that an indictment will follow.  I have personally seen in my criminal defense work, the St. Louis County Prosecutor’s Office fight zealously to protect our streets from people they believe endanger us on the road.  We will find out in the next few days the fate in the criminal court of the Mayor of Sunset Hills. Let us hope that the people that lost faith in the justice system over “Ferguson” will see that the Grand Jury is still grand.

Michelle M. Funkenbusch


Top Ten Things to Do When You Are Hit By a Car on Your Bicycle

Top Ten Things to Do After a Bicycle Accident from St. Louis Bicycle Accident Attorney 

Cyclists are injured and killed by hit-and-run drivers every day. Today, a cyclist was killed while trying to cross the street after exiting a well known bike path in Fullerton, California. Police are searching for a black vehicle involved in a hit-and-run accident that left the bicyclist dead.  Police said the man that was hit appeared to have come off a popular biking trail and was crossing the street.  The vehicle fled the scene, and then the victim was hit by a second vehicle, which stopped.  The bicyclist was rushed to a local hospital, where he was pronounced dead shortly after.

Here is a checklist to follow if you are hit while riding your bicycle and are still able to function. If you were not able to function at the time of the accident, or your loved one was killed, it is imperative you or your family contact an experienced bicycle accident attorney immediately. Make sure your family knows who you want them to call in an emergency.  If you are a witness to an accident, please help the victim with the following top ten things to do after a cycling accident:


1.  Get out of the road to avoid being hit a second time; however, if possible, take pictures (or have someone else take pictures) before the bike or car are moved.

2.  Get the phone numbers and names of all witnesses.

3.  Make sure to remember what if anything the driver, passengers, and or witnesses admit or tell you about the accident.

4.  Call the police immediately and make a police report.  Do not let the driver talk you out of making a report.

5.  Do not ignore your pain and blow it off. People are often hurt way worse than what they thought at the time of the accident due to adrenaline.  Go to an ER or doctor immediately if you have any pain. If you do not document that you are injured in medical records, you have no case for personal injuries.

6.  Ask to see the driver’s license and insurance information. Do not just let them write it down for you. Get the phone numbers to make a claim. Check the policy dates on the card to verify you have the correct insurance card. 

7.  Seek an estimate of your bike damage for repair and replacement value from a reputable shop like Maplewood Bicycle.  Do NOT try to fix it on your own without first getting the estimate.

8. Do not destroy anything that could be evidence such as a cracked helmut, torn clothing, bloody shoes, etc.

9.  Do NOT give a recorded statement to the insurance company. They are NOT on your side and will try to trick you into saying something to use against you in court.  

10.  Call a bicycle accident attorney within 24 hours in order to preserve all evidence, to contact witnesses, to make sure the police have the correct story (in case a supplemental report is needed with your statement), and to let the insurance company for the driver know you are represented and cannot be bullied into a settlement that greatly undervalues your case.

Again, if you or your loved one are hit while cycling, contact Missouri Cycling Advocate and Bicycle Accident Attorney, Michelle M. Funkenbusch at 314-338-3500.   If you would like a FREE hour presentation to your community group, athletic club, or children’s organization, on Missouri bicycle law and safety measures, please contact Michelle.

Missouri cyclist killed in accident during charity ride

A 48-year-old bicyclist from Independence died Saturday after he was struck by a vehicle while riding along a rural route of a charity ride east of Buckner.

Michael D. Forbes was riding west shortly after 8 a.m. on U.S. 24 near County Road H when a westbound car struck his rear wheel, according to the Missouri Highway Patrol.

Forbes was riding the route of the Freedom From Cancer Ride, a charity event that started at 7 a.m. in Independence and extended to Lexington and back. Forbes wanted to start earlier than the official race time, so he was actually headed back to Independence as hundreds of other riders were still riding east, said Chris Pace, the event’s coordinator.

Forbes was alone, so other riders didn’t see the accident, Pace said.

Troopers still investigating the bicycle/car accident cited inattention by the 32-year-old driver as a cause. The driver told troopers he had glanced down at his dashboard. When he looked back up, it was too late to avoid hitting the cyclist, said Sgt. Collin Stosberg.

Troopers are going to subpoena cellphone records from the driver as a routine part of the investigation, Stosberg said.

Evidence showed Forbes was on the roadway, according to the Highway Patrol.

The victim and his wife, who was volunteering at the event, are well known and liked in the cycling community, Pace said.

“It’s tragic all the way around,” Pace said. “He was a good guy. He’d do anything for anybody.”

Cyclists know their hobby can be dangerous, Pace said, especially with multiplying distractions inside vehicles.

“All I can say is try to ride in a group,” Pace said. “Try to make yourself a bigger target.”

SOURCE: BY CHRISTINE VENDEL, To reach Christine Vendel, call 816-234-4438 or send email to  Posted on Sat, Jun. 30, 2012 09:47 PM

Read more here:
If you are in need of a personal injury lawyer specializing in cycling accidents,  Contact Michelle M. Funkenbusch, Missouri’s Advocate for the Cyclists.

Transportation-related bills from the 2012 legislative session passed and awaiting the governor’s signature

[UPDATE 8 JULY 2012: Bills signed or approved by Governor Nixon are indicated.]

A number of transportation related bills passed the Missouri General Assembly this year and are now awaiting the governor’s signature.

The Missouri Bicycle and Pedestrian Federation recently gave a summary of the bicycle and pedestrian related bills and issues that came up during this year’s legislative session.  Now an even larger list–all of the significant transportation-related bills, whether or not they include bicycle or pedestrian provisions.Missouri Capitol and bicyclists

Almost all of the bills are ‘omnibus’ bills containing somewhere between a few and many different provisions.  To see the full list of provisions, click through to the bill’s page. The list below points out only those provisions of special interest for bicycling, walking, or trails:

  • SB 470 – Optional 3rd license plate for use when bike rack or other obstruction obscures the rear license plate (Ryan’s law)
  • SB 568 – Cities are allowed to levy a transportation tax under 74.700 to 74.755 RSMO.  The tax can be used for mass transit, roads, streets, bridges, airports, and planning. SB 568 adds “sidewalks, trails, and community-owned parking” to the list of allowed items for the tax.
  • SB 607 – Allows billboards to be moved or removed under special rules when a stretch of highway undergoes construction.
  • SB 611 – temporary permit tags; yellow light duration; move over law
  • SB 665 – conveys certain real estate to MoDOT
  • SB 719 – motorcycle training course exemption; use of state park roads by commercial entities (ie, bike rental, canoe rental)
  • HB 1402 – Optional 3rd license plate for use when bike rack or other obstruction obscures the rear license plate (Ryan’s law); “moderate” billboard legislation requiring MoDOT to create regulations government digital signs; includes many other provisions
  • HB 1504 – authorizing additional funding for Great Rivers Greenway District for trails, greenways, parks, and improvement of the Arch district in St. Louis City, St. Louis County, and St. Charles County; authorizing creation of a Trails and Greenway District in Jackson County and creation of a sales tax to fund trails and greenways.  This is state enabling legislation–all taxes must be approved by voters in the respective counties before they become effective.
  • HB 1807 [signed by governor 6 July 2012] – Designates the bike/ped path on the Heart of America Bridge in Kansas City as the “Bob Watts Memorial Bicycle & Pedestrian Bridge”.  Bob was a pioneering bicycle and pedestrian advocate in Missouri and former MoBikeFed Chair.
  • HB 2004 and HB 2005 [signed by governor 22 June 2012 with one minor line-item veto in HB 2004] – Appropriating funding for MoDOT.
  • SCR 26 – Establishes the Joint Interim Committee on Transportation Needs to study the transportation infrastructure needs of Missouri

You’ll note that some provisions, such as Ryan’s Law, are included as part of two or more bills.  This is a common legislative tactic–each bill the language is included in raises the odds of that language passing at least once–and helps the provision survive a veto if one or more of the large omnibus transportation bills is vetoed.  So if a certain provision passes twice or more, it can only help and doesn’t hurt anything.

As an advocate for the protection of cyclists and pedestrians, I strongly urge you to support bicycling, walking, and trails in Missouri and work towards Complete Streets policies in Missouri that will help every community become safer and more inviting for walking and bicycling.  Bicycling, walking, and trails are important for our health, for the livability of our communities, and for the economic vitality of our state as it competes on a national and international level.  The governor has until July 14th to sign most of these bills.  

SOURCE: Missouri Bicycle and Pedestrian Federation, Article Submitted by Brent Hugh on Thu, 06/07/2012 – 2:27pm

Local Bicycle Lawyer Attends Spin Class CLE

The Missouri Association of Trial Attorneys offered a spinning class with Continued Legal Education.  The Missouri Bar Association requires lawyers to take 15 hours of continuing legal education courses each year.  St. Louis lawyer Michelle M. Funkenbusch, 38, said she didn’t need the credits. She signed up because she’s training for an Ironman-distance triathlon and thought it would be fun. It turned out to be even more beneficial than she imagined.

“Your brain is woken up for an hour, the blood is rushing through your veins then you have all these attorneys come together and help each other with cases,” she said. “We’ll say, ‘Here’s an idea about my case, and it’s not refined or finished but what do you think?’ And they throw out ideas. I’m one of the youngest and to be in this room with these guys.”   Lawyers earn 9 credit hours for “Spinning your strategy,” which consisted of an hour of spin/cycling class and an hour of round table discussion of pending cases.

For full article:


Summary of U.S. Report on Commuting by Bike and on Foot by Missouri Bicycle Accident Lawyer

The Status of Bicycling and Walking in the U.S.

Government officials working to promote bicycling and walking need data to evaluate their efforts. In order to improve something, there must be a means to measure it. The Alliance for Biking & Walking’s Benchmarking Project is an ongoing effort to collect and analyze data on bicycling and walking in all 50 states and the 51 largest cities. They have now prepared the third biennial Benchmarking Report which is 248 pages long. The first report was published in 2007, the second in 2010, and the next report is scheduled for January 2014.


According to the report, the top ten cities where the most people commute by bike or on foot are: 1. Alaska 2. Vermont 3. New York 4. Montana 5. Oregon 6. Hawaii 7. Massachusetts 8. South Dakota 9. Wyoming 10. Maine.  The number one position, Alaska,  indicates it is the state with the highest share of commuters who commute by bicycle or foot.  The cities who ranked highest in commuting by bike and on foot are: 1. Boston  2. Washington, DC 3. San Francisco 4. Seattle 5. New York 6. Portland, OR  7. Minneapolis 8. Philadelphia 9. Honolulu 10. New Orleans.

Missouri ranked 40th out of the 50 states in the levels of commuting by bike or on foot. 

This information comes from the 2007-2009 ACS Notes: This ranking is based on the combined bike and walk to work share from the 2007-2009 ACS. View graphs illustrating this data on pages 34 and 35 of the Benchmark Report.


This is difficult to determine, but one statistic to consider is the number of fatalities per population commuting by walking or biking to work.  The arguably safest state based on fatality statistics is Vermont. The top safest states rank as follows: 1. Vermont 2. Nebraska 3. Alaska 4. Wyoming 5. South Dakota 6. North Dakota 7. Iowa 8. Maine 9. Massachusetts 10. Minnesota. See FARS 2007-2009 ACS 2007-2009.  Note that this ranking is based on the fatality rate which is calculated by dividing the number of annual pedestrian and bicycle fatalities (averaged between 2007-2009) by population (weighted, or multiplied, by share of the population walking and bicycling to work). View these data on pages 56-62 of this report.

Illinois ranked in the top half  of lowest fatalities/population commuting by bike/foot at 23rd,

but Missouri was in the 34th position.

The top twelve cities who ranked the safest based on the fatality statistics  are as follows: 1. Boston 2. Minneapolis 3. Omaha 4. Seattle 5. Portland, OR 6. Washington, DC 7. New York 8, San Francisco 9. Philadelphia 10. Honolulu 11. Colorado Springs 12. Chicago. Kansas City, MO ranked 45th and St. Louis did not make the list because this report focuses on the 50 states and the 51 largest U.S. cities. Most bicycling and walking is in urban areas, and because of short trip distances, the most potential for increasing bicycling and walking is in cities.

Summary of Additional Facts From the Report

Bicycling and Walking Levels:

  • 12% of all trips are by bicycle (1.0%) or foot (10.5%).
  • From 2000 to 2009, the number of commuters who bicycle to work increased by 57%.
  • In 2009, 40% of trips in the United States were shorter than 2 miles, yet Americans use their cars for 87% of trips 1 to 2 miles. Twenty-seven percent of trips are shorter than 1 mile, yet 62% of trips up to 1 mile long are by car. Residents of the largest U.S. cities are 1.7 times more likely to walk or bicycle to work than the national average.

Bicycle and Pedestrian Safety:

  • 14% of all traffic fatalities in the U.S. are bicyclists (1.8%) or pedestrians (11.7%).
  • In the 51 largest U.S. cities, 12.7% of trips are by foot and 1.1% are by bicycle, yet 26.9% of traffic fatalities are pedestrians and 3.1% are bicyclists
  • Seniors are the most vulnerable bicyclists and pedestrians. Adults over 65 make up 10% of walking trips, yet comprise 19% of pedestrian fatalities and make up 6% of bicycling trips, yet account for and 10% of bicyclist fatalities.

Funding for Bicycling and Walking:

 • States spend just 1.6% of their federal transportation dollars on bicycling and walking. This amounts to just $2.17 per capita.

Missouri was ranked 17th out of the 50 states in funding bicycling and walking.

This ranking is based on the per capita spending of federal funds by states and cities on bicycling and walking using a 5-year average (2006-2010). Data is based on funds obligated to projects in this period and are not necessarily the amount spent in these years. The number one position, again Alaska, indicates the state with the highest amount of per capita federal funding to bicycling and walking.  View these data on pages 86-87 of this report.

Here are some additional facts about financial benefits from the extensive report:

Public Health Benefits:

• Bicycling and walking levels fell 66% between 1960 and 2009, while obesity levels increased by 156%.

• Between 1966 and 2009, the number of children who bicycled or walked to school fell 75%, while the percentage of obese children rose 276%.

• In general, states with the highest levels of bicycling and walking have the lowest levels of obesity, hypertension (high blood pressure), and diabetes and have the greatest percentage of adults who meet the recommended 30-plus minutes per day of physical activity.

Economic Benefits:

 • Bicycling and walking projects create 11-14 jobs per $1 million spent, compared to just 7 jobs created per $1 million spent on highway projects.

 • Cost benefit analyses show that up to $11.80 in benefits can be gained for every $1 invested in bicycling and walking.

Download the complete report at:

Michelle M. Funkenbusch is a cycling advocate and Missouri trial attorney specializing in representing cyclists who have been injured in accidents. Please contact her if you wish for her to speak with your group about the benefits of cycling or if you have been injured in an accident. 314-799-6602.

“Going the Distance”: Pennsylvania Passes “Four Foot” Bicycle Passing Law.

Missouri Cycling Advocate on the New “Four Foot” Passing Law in Pennsylvania.

There is no IQ test required to drive a car or ride a bike… but seeing accident after accident in St. Louis and the surrounding area in Missouri, I am glad to see the continued nationwide movement to pass “safe passing bills”.  Every cyclist knows how it feels to have a car, truck or bus pass too close for comfort.   I know many who have been hit by cars and survived to tell their tale, but not all.  How many cyclists have experienced the “red pickup truck” cursing at them as they are passed on a lonely country road wide enough for all to be happy. Or how about the typical teenage girl in the Dodge Neon, texting her girlfriends, who turns straight into a cyclist.  Motorists often misjudge the space needed due to inattentiveness, lack of the expectation of a cyclist, and lack of experience driving by cyclists. To make roads safer for bicyclists and other vulnerable road users, many states have passed “safe passing bills”  to provide bicyclists the protection of law from passing motor vehicles.

On Tuesday, January 24, 2012, the Pennsylvania Senate voted to pass HB170, a bill that would require motorists allow a minimum of four feet when passing a cyclists on the roadway.  If you review the bill, note that it refers to bikes as pedalcycles… not to be confused with motorcycles.  The bill passed the Senate in a 45-5 vote and is now awaiting signature by their governor so it may become law.  Once signed into law the Pennsylvania bill will require that:

  • Bicycles in Pennsylvania must be operated in the right hand lane, or as close as practicable to the right-hand curb or edge of roadway.
  • This does not apply to a bicycle using any portion of the road due to unsafe surface conditions.
  • Motorists must overtake a bicycle with no less than four feet between the vehicle and the bicycle and at a “prudent reduced speed”.
  • No turn by a motorist may interfere with a bicycle proceeding straight.

Here is the link if you would like to read the bill:

The “four foot” law is significant in that most states that have passed safe passing laws have limited it to three feet.  Three foot laws have come under scrutiny for still being too narrow.  Some driver’s education handbooks instruct to give 6 feet of room when passing a cyclist.

No Three or Four Foot Law in Missouri: Must Pass at “Safe Distance”

Insurance Company lobbyists have continued their success in Missouri in blocking a three or four foot passing laws.  They fear a rise in claims if a clear-cut law is passed.  Currently, Missouri has no specific number of feet that you must overtake a bicycle, but there is a specific  vehicle-overtaking-bicycle law.  Overtaking  law, “304.678.  Distance to be maintained  when overtaking a bicycle.”, (here)  states “The operator of a motor vehicle overtaking a bicycle proceeding in the  same direction on the roadway, as defined in section 300.010, RSMo, shall leave a safe distance, when passing the bicycle, and shall maintain clearance  until safely past the overtaken bicycle.” (italics added)  Penalty: “Any person who violates the  provisions of this section is guilty of an infraction unless an accident is  involved in which case it shall be a class C misdemeanor.

If you have any questions about Missouri bicycle accident law, contact Michelle M. Funkenbusch, St. Louis Trial Lawyer and Cycling Advocate, 314-799-6602.  Michelle provides free bicycle law education seminars to the community, high schools, scout troops, and adult social organizations. If you would like Michelle to speak to your group, please do not hesitate to contact her.

Finding Private Safe Roads in Missouri For Cycling is a Challenge