• Thu January 22 2004
  • Posted Jan 22, 2004
First of all, Thanks to those who participated this past week and today lobbing against the Bike Bill (Senate File 2001) that was considered by the Transportation committee this morning.

Approximately 12 cyclists and several T.V. and news reporters were present in the room at 11:00 am.

Was the Bill Approved?

Unfortunately Yes, The bill, with amendments, was swiftly approved by the Transportation Committee and will end up on the Senate floor some time very soon.

8 of 10 senators approved the bill with little question. 2 senators were not present. [Strike ONE!]

Tell me what happened at the hearing?

Senator Putney opened by explaining the bill to the committee. After the explanation, other committee members could ask questions.
Senator Matt McCoy asked Sen. Putney to explain his reasoning for introducing the Bill. Sen. Puntney explained that he travels on hwy 330, a 4 lane divided highway between Melbourne and Marshalltown, and he rarely sees cyclists using the trail. One day he happened upon a group of cyclists using the road versus the trail. Between the safety issues of the cyclists on the road and a multi-million dollar trail built with taxpayers money and not being used, this bill was developed an introduced.

Sen Putney continued by stating it was a "Common Sense" issue and who would have the mentality to ride on the roads instead of a trail anyway.

Senator Matt McCoy responded with some excellent comments stating this Bill was "An assault to the Iowa Trail Systems and it's riders" We need to attract younger people to the state of Iowa, and this was not one of the way to bring new revenues to our state.. He then went onto say something to the affect of "The next thing to pass will be to restrict cyclists from city streets and make them ride on the sidewalk". A comparison was made to a combine on the road versus a bicycle. Both are slow moving vehicles. [editor note: and a combine usually takes up more than one lane] Sen. McCoy made a firm stance that he adamantly opposes the bill and will do what he can to prevent the bill from going any further.

Sen McCoy added that the trail system took a big hit with the condemnation (eminent domain) bill that passed a few years ago that was spearheaded by Farm Bureau to not allow land to be condemned for trail development. This has hindered the connection of trails around the state.

It was asked what type of research he had done about safety and any other input he has received. Sen Putney replied he has had overwhelming response in favor of the bill. [editor note: He had no safety statistics, and only mentioned 2 highway patrolmen that he had talked to.] Sen Putney explained he viewed this Bill as a "preventative measure" to restrict cyclists now before safety concerns arise.

Senator Steve Warnstadt, who also opposed the bill, added an amendment giving the right to still ride on 4-lane highways rather than the adjacent trail if a call was made to the Iowa DOT before a ride, etc. was to take place (RAGBRAI, etc.) and if the trail was deemed impassable. Neither amendment was discussed in much detail. The committee voted and passed his amendments.

The vote then took place and the bill was approved.

Who was opposed to the Bill?

Senator Matt McCoy and Steve Warnstadt were the only senators to speak against the bill. My understanding is that the public is sometimes allowed to testify, but we were only allowed to watch and listen. Other senators who were not on the Transportation committee were also in the room and expressed their disappointment after the meeting, and said they would work with Senator McCoy and Warnstadt to ensure a vigorous floor debate.

What else did we learn?

We learned that a Senate committee can move very quickly! Not only was this bill just recently introduced, but I was amazed on how fast the bill was explained, questioned, amended, and passed within 30 minutes! (scary-fast if you ask me!)

The bill would currently affect 17 miles of trails
  • 7+ mile of newly constructed trail on hwy 330 between Melbourne and Marshalltown

6+ miles of the Raccoon River Trial between Waukee and Adel
2-3 miles of trail in the Denver Iowa area (Hwy 63)
These are the only trails affected today... but what about the trails constructed in future years? What other restrictions can/could be placed on cyclists.

Many of the Senators are from rural communities and don't appear to possess the same views as most avid cyclists about a bicycle being a form of transportation in addition to a recreational vehicle.

We learned there are more Senators on our side and will work with and for us to provide more information to the Senate.

Even though the bill passed, I feel that cyclists received some positive press from the hearing. Channel 8, 5 and 13 were there, WHO radio, two Des Moines Register Reporters, A city view reporter were the media I recognized. Several cyclists and Senator Matt McCoy were interviewed after the hearing

What Comes Next?

We will keep a close eye on the bill and it's progressions. Rumor has it that the bill will move swiftly to the Senate since there is not many bills being introduced this early in the year. Keep tuned to for up to date information.

A group of cyclists are drafting an 'Organization' for the defense of our trails and our rights as cyclists by researching safety issues, contacting key legislators and identifying other information that will aid to defeat this bill. With hopes, an "Official" position on the bill will be adopted by the cycling community.

What can you do in the meantime?

Continue to make contact your Senators and other Legislators. Explain your position about the bill and how if affects your rights as a cyclist, a tax payer and an Iowan and use reason to persuade them to do what's right. Find your legislators here: If you already know who they are... find their e-mail here:

And remember, emails work, but HAND-WRITTEN letters and personal appearances work the best if you're trying to make an impression.

I'm from out of state - can I help?

you certainly can! you can still contact the Senators! Explain you position. You come into our state, spend money, ride the trails, the roads and attend events and rides. It's the heart of tourism right there! You can find the members of the transportation committee toward the end of this article here:


(explains bill history and the wording)


It is unfortunate that Senator Putney feels this way toward cyclists. I still am not sure if he is angry about not using a 2 million dollar trail system or if he is truly concerned about the cyclist safety. He and many others come from the rural communities and don't believe cyclists should be on the road. I think we must ask why bicycles were the only mode of transportation singled out of all the slow moving vehicles on the roads today. Tractors, Amish Buggies, runners, rollerbladers,. etc. are all slow moving vehicles, and all could be a hazard on a highway. Granted a tractor isn't allowed on the trail, but that should not ban us as cyclists to be on the road too.

There are so many unanswered questions regarding the amendments, weather concerns, etc. Hopefully more information will become available soon.
Again, thanks for participating. If everyone can do their part, we shoudl have no problems defeating this bill!

All in all, a good showing of cyclist participation! We even got news coverage on bicycles with the capital in the background.

Best analogy of the day: Are the Senators required to use the cafeteria at the capital? It is provided at some expense to the state tax payers but we would not even think of requiring that the Senators eat at the cafeteria each day. [See what I mean!]

I heard that this was one of the largest turnouts they have had for a transportation committee hearing.


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  • Modified: Feb 18, 2018 by bikeiowa






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