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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
First it was a former Iowa senator who shall not be named. Then it was the counties and thier insurance company, then a safety coalition. Now it is Iowa-Nebraska Equipment Dealers, or INED. I have to wonder who is next at trying to resrict or ban cyclists in Iowa from the roadways?

Here is the latest:

Guest column: Legislation isn't the answer for bike safety

This legislative session, bicycle advocates are attempting to pass legislation aimed at improving bicycle safety. If successful, the new law would require a 5-foot minimum passing and following distance for drivers operating near bicycles. In addition, it would increase the fines and penalties associated with accidents involving drivers who strike bicyclists.

The question I have asked several bicycle advocates is how legislation would make it safer for bicycles to be on the road. So far, I haven't received a satisfactory answer. Instead of trying to pass laws that won't be enforced, bicycle advocates should focus their efforts on educating both drivers and bicyclists.

The vast majority of the people riding bicycles on Iowa's roads are either doing it for leisure or exercise. And, in large part, the cars and trucks using the roads are doing so for economic purposes. It is true that some people do ride their bikes to work, but for most this is a matter of choice. Roads are how most people get to work and, ideally, allow commerce to take place in the most efficient manner.

Drivers are required by Iowa law to wear a seat belt while operating a motor vehicle. There is no law that requires the use of helmet while riding a bicycle (an essential part of bicycle safety). The law also has specific safety equipment requirements for brakes, lights, signals, and horns for motor vehicles. Bicycles, in large part, are exempt from such requirements.

Cyclists should keep in mind that motor vehicles are fast and powerful. Bicycles are slow and lightweight. While bicycles may have been a popular mode of transportation a hundred years ago (along with horses), most of our roads and highways have been developed and paid for by motor vehicle use.

Certainly, although there are roads that both motor vehicles and cars can share, as a matter of self-preservation bicyclists should refrain from taking certain streets and roads.

A simple, common-sense question to ask in determining whether a road is safe or not is: "Would I want my child to ride a bike on this street?" If the answer is "no," then, in all likelihood, it isn't any safer for you to be riding on it, either.

Drivers need to know:

- Bicycles have a right to use the road - get over it.

- Slow down when you see a bicyclist.

- When you pass cyclists, give them as much room as is reasonable.

- Don't tailgate.

- Don't get angry at bicyclists and don't throw objects at them.

Bicyclists need to know:

- Just because you have a right to use the road, doesn't mean you still won't get squashed by a 10,000 pound truck.

- Ride on the right side of the lane and move as far to the right as possible when drivers are attempting to pass you.

- If the posted speed limit is greater than 40 mph, you should consider using an alternate route.

- Ride defensively, and assume that everyone is out to run you over.

- If you want to exercise or are just out for a leisurely ride, take a bike trail. Not only is it safer, but it was specifically built for these purposes.

Ultimately, if both drivers and bicyclists would be friendly to and more tolerant of one another, most of these problems would be solved.
I am not sure if the author will rogers is hiding his and the INED's position on wanting to restrict cyclists rights to the roadways under hte guise of stating more education needs to be done, etc. or not. He used the word possible when refering to how we should ride to the right. Iowa law states the word practicable. If it were changed to possible there would be a restriction on cyclists and where we can position ourselves on the roadways.

I can't even begin to state what I think about his crude comment about just because we have the right we will not get squashed by a 10,000 pound truck. That is far out there as far as I am concerned. He thinks we have no clue about the risks of riding bike. He assumes too much. I wonder if he knows what the word assume means?

If the posted limit is greater than 40 mph, consider another route? Give me a freaking break! This would keep Iowa cyclists in the towns and cities only and ban us from riding on any county or state hwy. So much for events like RAGBRAI and other bike rides.

I always ride defensivley but never assume anything. Read what I said above about the word assume.

What do you think? Do you think rogers has a good idea at wanting cyclists to use a alternate route if the speed is 40 mph or higher? what about riding as far right as possible instead of practicable?
 

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I don't understand the hate that non-cyclists have for cyclists on the road. I live in a town where there are not options for a cyclist to ride on a shoulder as there are none and there are no alternative routes. People flip out having to wait behind a cyclist or go around them. I guess it's our growing culture of wanting everything now that patience even on a practical level is being lost.
 

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patience even on a practical level is being lost.
Great way to put it!

I don't know what it is about cars and driving that can turn even what usually are the nicest people into pure a-holes. I've seen my sweet, little sister morph into a monster behind the wheel. Maybe some psychology grad student can do/has done a thesis project on that.
 

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I'm sorry your state is full of yokels. Mine too. I still don't support your common sense legislation but I like the idea of vocalizing fears and concerns on both sides. Iowa is mainly rural right? So mainly 40+ mph roads in the middle of no where?
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Here is an email I sent to rogers and his frist response:

I am writting in referance to your article in the DMR. First I am not sure why they published it. What does a director for govt. affairs for the Iowa-Nebraska farm equipment dealers have to do with bicycle safety? Short of you being a cyclist or part of a group who wants to do nothing more than ban us from the roadways what concern is it of yours?

Second, what would you consider a satisfactory answer? I am sure the answers you have been given has been an honest one. Would you rather someone lie to you and tell you what you want to hear to satisfy you? Or tell you the truth even if it is an answer you do not find to your satisfaction.

Here is my answer the question, tell me if you have heard something similar before: This new law is not designed to be truly or completely proactive, but rather reactive, at least to start. Once motorists become more and more aware of it the hope is they will obey it. Granted it is difficult if not impossible to enforce. But most traffic laws are. A majority of traffic laws are reactive in the sense nothing is done until they are violated. For example speed limit laws. They are certainly not proactive because anyone can easily violate them and nothing is done to prevent it until an LEO pulls the driver over and issues a citation. It will be the same with the safe passing law. While drivers are expected to know the law and obey it, there will not always be an LEO there to enforce it, therefore when, not if a motorist hits a cyclists the driver will be held more accountable with a higher fine and even the possibility of jail time. A good example of this is the tailgating law for drivers. There is almost never an LEO on hand to pull a tailgating driver over. But when the tailgator collides with the vehicle they are following too close they are cited for such. Again a reactive law/citation. This law is designed to hold drivers more accountable when they rear end someone.

You also state cyclists should be as far to the right as possible. Iowa law says for bicycles we have to follow what is called Far Right As Practicable, or FRAP. The key word is Practicable. What this means is cyclists have the right to determine where on the roadway, with the flow or same direction of traffic, is the safest place to ride. This means if there are debris, holes, etc. on the far right near the edge or curb we are legally allowed to ride further in the travel lane. It also means, in my case on one particular roadway, I have to use when commuting, I am allowed to ride in the right tire track of the travel lane. I do this because if I ride closer to the curb drivers pass me way to close and I have been brushed. When I ride further into the travel lane, this is called taking the lane, it is also what you refer to to as riding defensivley, I have never been passed too close. This roadway is a 35 mph, undivided 4-lane in my city. Just so you know I am also allowed to ride in the left lane if I need to as well, all thanks to FRAP.

There is an education programs in place to teach motorists how to react when encountering cyclists. In Iowa's drivers ed program, as much of a joke as it is, students are taught what they are supposed to do when they encounter a cyclist. There is information for adult drivers as well, but most of this is passive at best. Unfortunatly there are no mandatory adult driving programs. Most adult drivers would not be in favor of attending such a class. There was talk at one tim at making drivers take a class and test when they renew their liscense and if they did not they would have their liscense renewed, nothing became of it. This was not just because drivers do not know how to react to cyclists, there were other reasons behind it.

Finally I highly recommend you read 2 books. First read: "TRAFFIC: Why We Drive The Way We Do (And What It Says About Us)", written by Tom Vanderbilt. The second is "The Cyclist's Manifesto", written by Robert Hurst. Both will open your eyes on both sides of the argument. Especially TRAFFIC.

John
John,



I appreciate your feedback. I would love to visit with you sometime if you are willing. I can be reached by calling my cell phone at 515-669-1648. Rest assured I am not interested in fighting with you, but would rather help bridge the precipice that lies between motorists and cyclists.



Will Rogers

Director of Government Affairs

Nebraska Power Farming Show, Co-Director

Iowa Nebraska Equipment Dealers Association

1311 50th St

West Des Moines, IA 50266
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Here is my response and his next one:

Right now the only form of communication that is easiest for me to utilize is email. I am very busy with work, my Masonic Lodge, (I am Worshipful Master, or the leader this year), and getting ready to start riding in the Spring, not to mention RAGBRAI. Feb./March is very busy for me and it stays busy until about Nov. when I am done riding for the year.

I would not mind bridging the precipice either. But that does not include killing the Bicycle Safety Bill as you were successful at last year. If anything doing so will drive cyclists and motorists further apart. If you really want to work at bridging anything between cyclists and motorists you should talk to Mark Wyatt, Executive Director of the Iowa Bicycle Coalition. I am simply a cyclist who rides his bike in urban/suburban areas, on county hwy's and state hwy's and even trails where and when I can.

I am also a cyclist who blogs about issues like this and articles like yours. Here is the link: Bicycle Advocacy and Safety Sometime today I will post about your article and what I think about it.

You have not answered my question about what you think a satisfacgtory answer answer to your question about how legislation will make it easier or even safer for cyclists. I was being serious in asking you what you think a satisfactory answer is and was not being rhetorical. Woudl you rather someone lie to you to give you a satisfactory answer because you want one and it is what you want to hear, or would you rather someone tell you the truth, even if it is not to your satisfaction? What kind of an answer are you looking for to your question? What do you think of my answer? Is it satisfactory or to your liking?

Trails do not go everywhere I need to go. Not only that why should cyclists be made to only stick to the trails as some have suggested and even you alluded to, even if we are out for jsut a leisurley ride? We shouldn't. We are legally allowed to ride on any roadway that does not have a minimum posted speed limit. If you did not know the minimum posted limit was put in place to keep farm equipment off of the state hwy's and interstate systems. It stands to reason the farm groups, such as yours, attempted a strong opposition to it. That obviously failed.

Now groups like yours are trying to restrict and even ban cyclists from the roadways. First it was a former state senator who shall not be named, this caused the birth of the Iowa Bicycle Coalition. Then it was the counties and their insurance company, next it was some safety coalition group, now your group. I have to wonder, after we defeat and prevent your group from restricting our rights and banning us from the roadways, who is next?


John
What lodge do you belong to? I have been a member at Home Lodge in Pleasant Hill (formerly in Des Moines) for 18 years. While I have not gone through the chairs (due in part to my lack of interest in ritual or the craft) I am a very busy person myself. I am involved in several projects with my synagogue and the Greater Des Moines Jewish Federation, the Waveland Park Neighborhood Association, the Veterans of Foreign Wars, etc.



I have spoke with Mark Wyatt in the past and have enjoyed our conversation. As I explained then and I do again in my OP-ED, I believe that most of the issues could be addressed through education of both motorists and cyclists. Concerning SF 117-the Iowa Nebraska Equipment Dealers Association nor I are interested in “killing” any legislation. However, we are interested in making sure that if any legislation that does pass includes language to exempt farm equipment from the 5 ft passing requirement as it did in 2009 and in the earlier version of the bill this year.



But believe what you want to believe about me and by all means don’t attempt to have any real, meaningful dialogue about the subject.





Will Rogers

Director of Government Affairs

Nebraska Power Farming Show, Co-Director

Iowa Nebraska Equipment Dealers Association

1311 50th St

West Des Moines, IA 50266
 
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