• Thu November 08 2007
  • Posted Nov 8, 2007
Tom McMahon, Staff Writer 11/08/2007 Crawford County Supervisor Dan Mulbauer said he'd probably attend a Nov. 19 meeting with Iowa State Association of Counties and RAGBRAI officials to discuss the ban his county placed on RAGBRAI riders riding through his county. But Mulbauer said he thinks the association should be meeting with counties first before discussing the issue with RAGBRAI officials. "I'm not against RAGBRAI," he said. "But the counties have to be protected against possible lawsuits." Crawford County recently paid $350,000 to Kirk Ullrich's widow, Betty, who sued the county after her husband died in the 2004 race when his bike tire hit a centerline road crack near Schleswig. Following the settlement, the board of supervisors passed a resolution requesting future RAGBRAI events not be routed through Crawford County. Mulbauer said ISAC invited him and Crawford County Engineer Paul Assman to attend the meeting. "I've visited about 15 other county boards, and they are all in favor of getting some protection," he said. "We need legislation, not a signed waiver. We want to welcome RAGBRAI, but we need to be protected." ISAC has advised other counties to hold off on passing a similar resolution right now, although several counties have expressed concern and want protection. The association has placed the issue on its Fall School's Nov. 30 roundtable discussion agenda. "That's not the best time to discuss it," Mulbauer said. "It's a Friday afternoon, and a lot of people leave early. We need a lot of counties to be there." Toward that end, Mulbauer said his board is sending a letter to each of the state's 98 other boards, asking them to be present for the discussion. According to ISAC's Web site, the pros and cons of Crawford County's resolution will be discussed at the Nov. 30 meeting. Among the items to be discussed will be whether counties have the authority to pass such a resolution in the first place; whether Iowa law recognizes the concept in the resolution of "intended" and "permissive" uses of the roadway; whether a resolution is even legally binding; whether this resolution sends the right message to the Legislature; whether a county could be violating the First Amendment rights of county residents by adopting such a resolution; and whether a resolution such as this could face a challenge as being too vague or overly broad. Mulbauer said his supervisors are urging the Iowa Legislature to pass a bill protecting counties from lawsuits such as Ullrich's. They've spoken with District 55 Rep. Clarence Hoffman (R- Charter Oak) about the issue. Hoffman said he is working with ISAC and RAGBRAI on possible legislation, patterned after Wisconsin and Illinois laws. He said if enacted, the law would protect counties from lawsuits where a bicycle accident occurred on a road or highway. "It would not only cover events such as RAGBRAI but also individuals riding on roads whose primary use is not bicycle traffic," Hoffman said. RAGBRAI officials have previously indicated they would not route the annual bicycle ride through any counties that did not want it. The 2008 route has not been set for the ride across the state that will take place July 20-26.

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