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Several local cyclists spoke to the Grimes City Council Tuesday night to express their concern with a change to the city’s bicycle ordinance, which they believe to be in violation of Iowa code.

The council proposed to add a provision that stated cyclists “shall use a bike path whenever there is a usable bike path provided adjacent to a roadway,and whenever posted.”

Councilwoman Jill Altringer made the amendment that stated clearly the area the provision pertained to, which is South James Street between the sports complex and southern city limits.

She said the road is a safety concern. It carries 5,000 cars per day with minimum roadway width at 26 feet.

“We don’t have sight distance,” she said.

Councilman Craig Patterson said if people are nervous about the ordinance being extended, he suggested that the council put a time limitation on it, which would end when the roadway is constructed into a four-lane road.

The construction is on the council’s comprehensive plan and will be started once there is revenue for it, Patterson said.

“I think if we put a time frame on it, it would put some people at ease,” he said.

Councilman Tom Shatava was alone in his vote against the amendment to the ordinance, which will go before the council for two more readings.

Cyclists are happy with the bike trail by South James Street. They took issue with the possible legality of the added provision.

Mark Wyatt, executive director with the Iowa Bicycle Coalition was one of several individuals who spoke to the council, Tuesday night. According to Iowa code a bicyclist has the rights of a motorist; local authorities have power to regulate the operations of bicycles, which can’t conflict with the state code.

“Grimes doesn’t have the authority to ban bicycles from the roadway and require them to use the trail,” he said. “It has nothing to do with the trail it’s the authority to pass that part of the ordinance.”

Cindy Kreklau, 53, of Grimes, said she’s been cycling since 1983. She rides her bike to work in West Des Moines nearly every day on the bike trail.

“I think anyone would use the trail rather than the street. But by Iowa law a bike is a vehicle,” she said.

Kreklau added that there were times last winter on the trail where there was a lot of sand and gravel on it was more dangerous to ride on the trail than on the road.

Mayor Tom Armstrong said the city’s legal counsel reviewed the ordinance and found it was in compliance with Iowa code.


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