More Counties Consider RAGBRAI Ban
Posted Oct 17, 2007 by BIKEIOWA user
Association To Discuss Possible Legislation To Protect Counties
AMES, Iowa -- More Iowa counties are considering a ban on Register's Annual Great Bicycle Ride Across Iowa.
Crawford County made the move recently after settling a $350,000 lawsuit in which a biker was killed when his tire hit a gap in the road.
Supervisors in Carroll County on Wednesday talked about a similar ban.
Carroll County is just one of several counties talking about a ban, but the Iowa State Association of Counties is asking county leaders to wait before taking any action.
Word of a ban to keep RAGBRAI off the roads in Crawford County quickly got other counties considering similar action.
Many county leaders fear they, too, could be held liable and can't afford the risk of a lawsuit.
"Counties shouldn't be in this alone, shouldn't bear the liability for this on their own if someone gets hurt riding on RAGBRAI," said David Vestal of the Iowa State Association of Counties.
The legal questions go beyond just the issue of liability should a biker be injured along the RAGBRAI route.
The Iowa State Association of Counties is exploring the question of whether a county can even enforce such a ban.
"I would say there's a difference between telling one person they can't ride a bike on the road, which obviously a county couldn't do, and telling 20,000 of them they can't take over the road at the same time," Vestal said.
"This decision probably was, may have been, a little rash at this point in time," said Lisa Hein, president of the Iowa Bicycle Coalition.
Hein said counties should be encouraging and promoting biking, not banning the activity. She cautioned county and state leaders from overreacting to an issue that's less of a safety concern to cyclists.
"Really, the issue is not so much defects in the road, but conflicts with other vehicles," Hein said.
Iowa counties want some form of protection and plan to push for a change in state legislation.
"We would hope that our elected officials would work with the counties, the county engineers (and) Iowans, who bicycle to help encourage more bicycling in Iowa, encourage more events rather than discouraging it," Hein said.
The Iowa State Association of Counties is meeting in November to discuss possible legislation that would protect counties from future lawsuits.
So they're asking counties to wait until then before taking action on a ban.
The next RAGBRAI route won't be released until at least January of next year, but the dates of the ride have already been set for July 20 to 26.