See: Fallout from RAGBRAI bicycle ride ban, Oct. 12, 2007
A $350,000 settlement has been reached in a lawsuit stemming from the death of a cyclist on the opening day of RAGBRAI in 2004.
After admitting no wrongdoing in the case, Crawford County turned around and passed a resolution banning RAGBRAI from using its county roads because the county chooses not to maintain them to bicycling standards.
RAGBRAI officials said they'll honor the ban. “Most places want RAGBRAI.”
Betti Jo Ullrich of Davenport sued Crawford County, Iowa, after her husband, Kirk Ullrich, 49, died when his bike tire got caught in a center-line joint on a county road and he fell.
Eight other cyclists hit the pavement in the same area that day in 2004. One was med-evaced to a local hospital and the road was shut down.
The lawsuit alleged the county demonstrated negligence in not properly maintaining County Road E-16 west of Schleswig and not warning the 8,000-plus registered bicyclists in RAGBRAI about the hazard.
The case never went to trial, and Crawford County settled without accepting wrongdoing. The county filed a motion saying it was not liable and that the bike rider participated in RAGBRAI knowing that some risk was involved.
Roads not for bikes?
The attorney for Crawford County also made this disturbing statement to the Southwest Iowa Bulletin Review:
“(The attorney) also stated the road is not designed for cyclists, but for motorists, and that the county's duty to protect bike riders is not the same as its duty to protect motorists. He had filed testimony from a civil engineer stating the county had conducted proper maintenance on the road.”
Essentially, he's raising that old, misguided and ignorant belief that all roads are for cars, and that bikes are playthings that belong elsewhere. I checked Section 321 of the Iowa state code to see that bicycles have the same rights to the road as motor vehicles. Therefore I'd think it would follow that the roads should be maintained with bicycle safety in mind.
According to The Daily Nonpareil of Council Bluffs, the county immediately notified RAGBRAI of its decision to ban the event. Crawford County Engineer Paul Assman explained:
“Simply put, Crawford County's position is that we have met the test of providing safe roadways for “intended” users. That said, the issue then becomes the “permissive” use of Crawford County roadways by participants in the RAGBRAI event.” “
RAGBRAI director T.J. Juskiewicz said the nation's oldest bicycle touring event isn't interested in going where it isn't wanted. “Most places want RAGBRAI.”
The Register's Annual Great Bicycle Ride Across Iowa is organized by the Des Moines Register newspaper. 2008 marks its 36th year.
I wonder how bicyclists in Crawford County must feel, knowing that the government doesn't plan to provide “safe roadways” for them?
Registration for RAGBRAI XXXVI starts Nov. 15.