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Thursday, July 30, 2009

Iowa group pushes bicycle ban

The Citizens for Safety Coalition of Iowa has started a petition drive that asks the Iowa legislature to create a ballot initiative for the November 2010 election that would ban bicycles on "farm-to-market" roads.

This is how Iowa law defines "farm-to-market" roads: "Farm-to-market roads" or "farm-to-market road system" means those county jurisdiction intracounty and intercounty roads which serve principal traffic generating areas and connect such areas to other farm-to-market roads and primary roads. The farm-to-market road system includes those county jurisdiction roads providing service for short-distance intracounty and intercounty traffic or providing connections between farm-to-market roads and area service roads, and includes those secondary roads which are federal aid eligible.

Here's what the group's petition has to say:
We the undersigned are Iowa residents who urge our Legislature to support a ballot initiative for the November 2010 election which will prohibit bicyclists from using state and county defined farm-to-market roads.

A farm-to-market road is a state or county road which serves to connect rural or agricultural areas to market towns.

Over the past ten years the number of bicyclists using these farm-to-market roads for recreational purposes has increased dramatically as have the number of preventable accidents and fatalities.

Rural commerce and citizens are significantly impacted when forced to share the farm-to-market roadways with bicyclists. Because of the growth of today's commerce and agricultural business, shared roadways are no longer safe or practical in today's society.

So please if you are a resident of Iowa join us and lets make our roadways safe. Thanks for your time and your support.

All questions and comments can be sent to cfscofiowa1@yahoo.com.
A spokesman for the group, Dan Jones, told Radio Iowa that bicyclists create problems on the roads. He says some of the smaller highways or rural roads don't have shoulders, and don't have a place for motorists or cyclists to get out of the way to avoid a problem.

"We're tired of it, we think that the bicyclists should be held to the same laws that motorists are. They should have to have their license and insurance, anything that I've ever known that's been on these highways has to have insurance on it," Jones told Radio Iowa.

Needless to say, the Iowa Bicycle Coalition is opposed to it. The Coalition opposes the ban, but shares the concern about safety on Iowa highways. Here's what that group has to say:
Iowa governments have tools to address roadway safety for motorists and bicyclists. Safety improvements are accomplished with roadway design changes, improved signage, better enforcement, education programs and awareness building. Bike bans are not the answer.

Existing traffic laws provide a framework for different modes of traffic to share the road. State traffic laws provide consistent expectations for safe behavior on public roadways throughout the state for all roadway users.

Bike bans would have an extreme economic impact. A recent economic impact study of RAGBRAI showed $24 million during the week-long bike ride. Bicycle tourism, including charity fundraisers, are estimated to generate as much or more than RAGBRAI during the other weeks of the year.

Bicycle bans would have an extreme impact on the health of Iowans. Recent studies by the Alliance for Bicycling and Walking have shown relationships between states with high rates of bicycling have a healthier population including lower rates of diabetes, high blood pressure and obesity.
Supporters of the bicycle ban petition drive, in comments on the petition drive page, have one legitimate argument" that sometimes we cyclists don't obey the rules of the road. Other arguments -- such as cyclists should be relegated to bicycle paths, that cyclists don't pay registration fee and taxes and that cyclists aren't required to have insurance -- are the same tired arguments the anti-bicycle crowd loves to use and don't hold water.

This is the second effort in recent weeks to ban bicycles from some roads. Recently, commissioners in Jefferson County decided to ask Colorado lawmakers to approve a laws that would give counties the right to ban bicycles from country roads. You can read more about that effort at the Biking Bis and Cyclelicious blogs as well as Bicycle Colorado and the Columbine Courier.

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