Learn what Hannibal and Moberly city candidates say about biking and walking in their communities.

I recently interviewed the Kirksville city council candidates about their views on biking and walking. Several other newspapers carry my blog, and I thought it would be nice to do a similar service for those communities. This took a fair bit of time and I was only able to get about half the communities. In this article, I summarize my interviews of candidates for Hannibal and Moberly city elections.

Hannibal: I spoke with all 3 mayoral candidates and 2nd Ward incumbent Mike Dobson. I was unable to reach Jennifer Foster (2nd Ward), Barry Louderman (4th Ward), and Jamie Locke (6th Ward).

Mayoral candidate Lou Barta and his wife walk their dog, Shadow, to the parks or on sidewalks that are in good repair. Hannibal has over 20 parks with trails which are getting connected to streets with bike lanes. Bike lanes are not all well identified and not kept clear. Barta identifies the riverfront as a critical area in need of safe places to walk. The city pays residents to remove old sidewalks but has no provisions for replacing them, which is “one of the focal points of [his] Mayoral campaign.” He believes the city has a responsibility in keeping a healthy outdoor environment for young and old alike.

Mayoral candidate and incumbent Roy Hark walks for exercise and leisure “wherever I take a notion to walk.” In Hannibal, there are lots of options: paths, parks, streets. Some streets are striped with bike lanes and the Engineering Dept. is looking into extending trails into the flood buy-out area and is working on street widths. The city spends $600,000/ year fixing up older streets. Roy is proud of the bike racks at the armory and downtown. Tourism is very important to Hannibal, and he has seen “tourists come through with their bikes on the back of the car,” but more importantly, Hannibal wants to accommodate its citizens’ need for biking and walking. The city’s sidewalk program will tear out old sidewalks, which is about half the cost of sidewalk repair. “Slowly but surely, we’re getting there,” he says.

As a car-free teenager, mayoral candidate Monica Williams walked everywhere. Today, she walks all over town for exercise, especially on the “breathtaking” trails of Riverview Park. She wishes the city would fix not just sidewalks in business areas, but also the deplorable sidewalks in the residential areas. “With our growing city, a workable alternative for some type of municipal transportation as opposed to private (and expensive) entities” is needed. I would like to say a personal word about Ms. Williams. Most candidates I spoke to who were not incumbents had few and uninformed opinions about the city’s role in biking and walking. Ms. Williams, who is not an incumbent, expressed very thoughtful and articulate responses.

2nd Ward incumbent Mike Dobson gave a lovely interview, but unfortunately I lost my notes. My apologies to him! To the best of my recollection, he was knowledgeable about Hannibal’s bike/ped programs, approves of them, and hopes to see more. Thank you, Mr. Dobson, for the interview, and my apologies for losing my notes!

Moberly: I spoke with Don Burton, James Harlan, and Herb Lawrence, Jr. Dick Boots was unable to give me an interview.

Don Burton has served on Moberly city council for the past 12 years. He walks for fitness and fun with his new dog on Moberly’s extensive trail system. The trail system connects the high school and Rothwell Park and all the way to Highway 63, with 5 miles just in Rothwell Park. A Safe Routes to School grant will provide a connection into downtown Moberly. Don cites a recent survey that showed Moberly is ready for more biking and walking, with strong community support for the parks and for more trails. Recent improvements include a widened street for bike lanes and improved sidewalks thanks to a city program begun 10 years ago that pays 2/3 of the cost of sidewalk replacement.

James Harlan describes himself as an “old soldier” (a former drill sergeant) who walks and runs on the nature trail in front of his house or at the YMCA. He believes in exercise, and advises everyone to “have a cup of coffee and get out there and move.” He says Rothwell Park is very nice but underutilized. Moberly “has done pretty well on major routes” but some routes are pretty bad for biking and walking. Sidewalks might be a good place to start but could encroach on people’s property. He respects the values of all the citizens and he isn’t sure the city is ready for an emphasis on biking and walking.

Herb Lawrence, Jr. walks for fun and exercise and is proud of Moberly’s Rothwell Park. Moberly should be “a great deal involved in [sidewalks and bike lanes] within the limits of the budget.” He notices a trend toward other modes of transportation and more opportunities for outdoor exercise. “Our culture is ‘less calories, more exercise’.”