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  • Erin Murphy
  • Sun July 24 2016
  • Posted Jul 24, 2016

DES MOINES — Robert Philips planned to ride in RAGBRAI this week with his daughter.

But the 69-year-old Nashua man was killed last month while riding his bicycle — training for the cross-state ride — when he was hit by a truck, according to authorities.

Philips’ death is part of a spike in bicycle crash fatalities this year in Iowa. Already there are more than any year since 2010.

Avid riders are concerned, searching for answers and hoping for action.

“It’s definitely disturbing,” said Eric Penning, president of Cedar Valley Cyclists. “We think about it all the time, no matter if the ratios are up or down. It’s something that definitely needs to be addressed.”

Already this year six bicyclists have died in crashes in Iowa, according to the state Department of Transportation. The Iowa Bicycle Coalition has counted eight bicyclist fatalities.

A DOT spokeswoman said its figures may not be as high as the coalition’s because the department does not track deaths on bike trails, only roadways.

Either way, both figures are the most since eight bicyclists died in 2010. From 2011 to 2015, neither group recorded more than five deaths in a single year.

“We’re alarmed,” said Mark Wyatt, executive director of the coalition. “And we don’t want to take for granted that we can just wait and see it decline. We want to take action, and we want the Iowa government to work together to find solutions and to take action to reduce that number.”

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