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Thursday, June 26, 2008

Bicycle battles in Iowa

When supervisors in Crawford County, Iowa, banned RAGBRAI, the Des Moines Register's Great Bicycle Ride Across Iowa, it spurred a debate between counties concerned about liability issues and cyclists who are asserting their rights to ride on Iowa roads.

On Saturday, nearly 100 cyclists staged a protest ride against the RAGBRAI ban.

Crawford County supervisors voted to ban the annual ride last fall after settling a lawsuit with the family of a rider who died in 2004. The lawsuit claimed the county was negligent in its road maintenance, but since the case never went to trial, that was never determined.

"I don't understand what they are so upset about," Crawford County Board Chairman Dan Mulbauer told The Daily Nonpareil of Council Bluffs. "We are not against the riders. We need to have some liability protection. We can't afford another $350,000 lawsuit from someone saying our roads aren't good enough."

In response to the liability issue, the Iowa State Association of Counties drafted a sample draft ordinance that requires all bicycle rides to provide a certificate of insurance. It would require the sponsors of any qualified bicycle event to purchase a $1 million policy that also covers the county. Violators would face fines of at least $750.

You know cyclists are in trouble when you read the first section of the draft ordinance: "County roads are not designed for bicycles. According to the National Highway Traffic Administration, bicycling results in more emergency room admissions than any other sport or activity. Large organized bicycle events that use County roads create a unique risk of injury to bicycle riders. Allowing such rides puts the County, and County taxpayers, at risk for lawsuits and large damage awards."

The draft ordinance (Word document) goes on to say: "The County wants to encourage large organized bicycle events, while at the same time protecting the County from liability. The County has a legitimate interest in protecting itself from liability for injuries associated with the use of County roads. The best way to do that is to require that large organized bicycle events procure insurance that includes the County as an additional insured."

On Tuesday, dozens of bicyclists persuaded Dallas County officials Tuesday to reconsider an ordinance that would require liability insurance for any organized bike ride with more than 20 riders that is based upon the group's draft ordinance, the Des Moines Register reported..

County supervisors delayed a vote on the proposal, which has met resistance from cyclists who say it would hinder cycling clubs and charity fundraisers that can't afford policies.

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Roger 2 comments links to this post 10:26 AM

What's the expression, going after an ant with a machine gun or something?
VCs need to recognize the difference between reality and dreams if cyclists truly want equal rights.
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