Friday, June 20, 2008

You Can't Ride Here Anymore!

Yesterday I recieved a comment in regards to a proposed ordinance in Dallas County that would require "bicycle events" to obtain insurance in order to hold their event/ride in that particular county. This comment was made by Mark Wyatt who is the head honch at the Iowa Bicycle Coalition. (Thanks Mark!) Here is a little back round as to why this might be happening.

If you click through that last hyperlink and read the article, the essence of it all is that the Counties are taking the stand that the roadways are "designed for intended users". This is left to interpretation to mean that cyclists are not intended to use Iowa roadways. This is clearly at odds with Iowa Code which states that bicycles are allowed on Iowa roadways.

Why would the Counties of Iowa be looking at these sorts of ordinances/laws? Simply put, it's all about money. Money that the Counties are afraid of losing due to lawsuits that might arise from a death or injury incurred during an "organized cycling event". Take a look at the comment left yesterday here:

On June 24th at 9:30 am the Dallas County Board of Supervisors will meet at the Adel City Hall, 301 S. 10th Street Adel, IA 50003, to discuss an ordinance that will require bicycle events to obtain $1 million insurance policies for bicycle events. This could effect rides as small as 10-20 people.

1. Iowa Code 321.234 gives bicyclists the same rights and duties of a motorist. The proposed ordinance is a specific requirement placed on bicycles and does not include other vehicular events that occur in the public right-of-way such as MotorIoway and the WMT Tractorcade. This proposed ordinance is in conflict with Iowa Code.

2. The requirement to provide insurance notification to the counties may actually increase the liability levels for the county by giving them notice a bicycle event will take place.

3. The requirement of additional insured certificates may only protect the counties for the actions of the organizers of the ride. The actions of the county may not be covered under the ride organizer's insurance policies.

4. Requiring insurance for small bike rides may end organized training rides, like the Dream Team, scout groups, bike clubs and other groups.Please attend the meeting on June 24th at 9:30 AM to make your feelings known.

So, as you can see, a lot of "fun" rides that take place all over the state are in jeapordy of being made to put up money to insure their events at such a high rate that in all likelyhood, the rides will cease. How do I know this? Well, Trans Iowa has dealt with this very issue of insurance before and I can tell you, it isn't cheap. The entry fee that would be necessary to cover the rides in question would ostensibly put an end to them due to the high cost to cyclists.

Then you have "interpretation" of such an ordinance to deal with as well. What does this mean for "organized shop rides", regular group rides, or just a bunch of friends who organize a ride for the heck of it? How would such an ordinance be enforced and what would the penalty for "non-compliance" be? As you can see, leaving alone the fact that this ordinance is unfair to cyclists, the very nature of the ordinance invites all sorts of other legal mumbo-jumbo and should therefore be declared of the devil and be swiftly thwarted before it gets beyond the talking phases.

And you Dallas County cyclists out there, how would it make you feel to know that you will be joining the ranks of Crawford County in that your roads will be declared "unfit for cycling"? It seems that unless cyclists begin to stand up and declare their rights, Iowa may become a state where cyclists are effectively banned from roadways because counties are misguided in their attempts to protect themselves from "possible lawsuits" and absolving themselves from maintaining the roadways in a manner that would be safe for two wheeled travelers.

What's next? A ban on motorcycles? It isn't that far fetched folks!

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