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With an uptick in bicycle crashes and fatalities in 2016, Iowa bicyclers are urging the state to make roads safer.

Nine people total have died on Iowa roads this year, the most recent fatality taking place on July 26 during this year’s RAGBRAI. Withthe bike tour, warmer weather, and more bikers on the road, the need for more aware drivers has become critical.

Kevin McConnell, a manager of Geoff’s Bike and Ski, 816 S. Gilbert St., said distracted driving may be a prominent factor in what may be a reason that this year is particularly dangerous for bikers.

“I think cycling is growing as a sport, and anytime you have more people doing it, there is more of a probability of accidents happening,” he said. “I do have to think that some distracted driving seems to be a big thing.”

McConnell said some respect could fix the problem.

“It just has to be an understanding and patience, mutual respect between riders and drivers, between cyclists and motorists, respecting the laws of the road,” he said.

As the Iowa Bicycle Coalition’s petition for stricter driving laws states, 48 Iowans have died in crashes in the past 10 years. Half of the fatal crashes involve motor vehicles failing to yield when passing a bicycle. Usually, Iowans see three to five fatalities in bicycle and car crashes each year, but this season, nine deaths have bikers worried.

In addition to the spiked fatalities, Iowa’s consequences for the drivers in these accidents are not as harsh as some would like. Under current laws, drivers only face up to a $1,500 fine, rarely any jail time, and often no additional consequences.

Bob Wolff, the owner of Trail’s End Bike and Triathlon in Coralville, agrees distracted driving scares bikers the most and anyone else on the road.

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