Good news: Officials drop fight to block bicyclists from roads — Des Moines Register, Aug. 28, 2008
“The supervisors will meet in Eldora on Tuesday to consider repealing the ordinance, said Hardin County Supervisor Jim Johnson. He acknowledged the ordinance has been unpopular with bicycle riders, but he said county officials were concerned about protecting county taxpayers.”
More good news: Dec. 27, 2008 — Crawford County rescinds its ban on RAGBRAI
Aug. 27, 2008 — Supervisors of Iowa's Hardin County have passed an ordinance [see below] requiring that any bicycle ride of 10 or more people carry at least $1 million of liability insurance.
This is discrimination against bicyclists, plain and simple.
Any group of cyclists that takes its chances and rolls through the county without the insurance can be fined $750.
Says the Iowa Bicycle Coalition:
“The ordinance will end bicycle rides by scouting groups, church groups, and even individuals who meet on a regular basis to ride their bicycles if they are not willing to pay estimates of $300 to $3,000 per bicycle ride [the cost of the insurance].”
Further, the coalition points out that Hardin County also requires paperwork be filed that discloses the exact route, number of cyclists, start and end time, and name, phone and address of the organizer. The coalition adds:
“Citizens who choose to participate in an car rally, motorcycle poker run, tractorcade or funeral procession are not required to submit similar information to the county government.”
The ordinance is based on a template written by the Iowa State Association of Counties. It's their response to a lawsuit brought against Crawford County in 2004 by the family of a cyclist who died during RAGBRAI in 2004.
The county's insurance company settled the case out of court. The county banned RAGBRAI and sparked the current bike-ride liability fear and loathing movement.
That template ordinance opens with this line: “County roads are not designed for bicycles.”
This might come as a shock to those Hardin County bicycle riders who pay their local and property taxes for, among other things, road maintenance and road construction.
They might also be surprised that even though the roads aren't designed for bicycles, they're safe as long as nine or fewer bicyclists use them. Add one more rider to the group, however, and suddenly the road becomes a potential death trap requiring users to carry expensive event insurance.
Here's the conclusion from the Iowa Bicycle Coalition:
“The Hardin County does nothing to address the liability incurred by the negligence of the county. Nor would the ordinance have changed the liability in the 2004 Ullrich crash. In fact, the Hardin County ordinance may increase the liability of the county by providing a notification system and a heightened expectation of service by bicyclists.
“What this ordinance does is obliterate recreation, tourism, and economic development in Hardin County. What this ordinance does is insult anyone who chooses to travel by bicycle yet pays the same county taxes as any other roadway user. What this ordinance does is create a second class citizen – the bicyclist.
“It is apparent that county officials lack knowledge of bicycle risk management and liability. Creating an reactionary and punishing ordinance makes is obvious that counties are trying to invent a solution to problem that doesn't exist.”
I searched around the Iowa State Association of Counties website and found the ordinance, reprinted below. (Here's the link to the Sample Bicycle Event Ordinance [.doc] under the association's legal services.)
ORDINANCE NO. __________
<?xml:namespace prefix = o ns = “urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office” />
AN ORDINANCE RELATING TO BICYCLE EVENTS ON COUNTY ROADS
The Board of Supervisors of the County of ________________ ordains as follows:
SECTION 1. FINDINGS
1. County roads are not designed for bicycles. According to the National Highway Traffic Administration, bicycling results in more emergency room admissions than any other sport or activity. Large organized bicycle events that use County roads create a unique risk of injury to bicycle riders. Allowing such rides puts the County, and County taxpayers, at risk for lawsuits and large damage awards.
2. The County wants to encourage large organized bicycle events, while at the same time protecting the County from liability. The County has a legitimate interest in protecting itself from liability for injuries associated with the use of County roads. The best way to do that is to require that large organized bicycle events procure insurance that includes the County as an additional insured.
3. Even with this ordinance in place, full opportunity will continue to exist on County roads and on other County property for the free flow of ideas, and the exercise of freedom of speech.
SECTION 2. DEFINITIONS
1. “County” means the County of ____________________, State of <?xml:namespace prefix = st1 ns = “urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:smarttags” />Iowa.
2. “Bicycle event” means an organized procession or assemblage of more than ____(number)_____________ ( ) bicycle riders on one or more County roads in the unincorporated portion of the County, when one or more of the following conditions also applies:
a. The event is publicly advertised, which may include but is not limited to Internet, radio, newspaper, flier or email advertising; or
b. A registration fee or donation is charged or requested for participation in the event.
3. “Person” means any person, firm, partnership, association, corporation, company, or organization of any kind.
4. “Board of Supervisors“ means the Board of Supervisors of the County or its designee.
SECTION 3. INSURANCE REQUIRED
No person shall organize, operate, or participate in, any bicycle event in the County unless the event has liability insurance coverage as provided in this ordinance.
SECTION 4. PROOF OF INSURANCE
1. Form. The Board of Supervisors shall provide a proof of insurance form. An authorized representative of the bicycle event shall file a completed proof of insurance form with the Board of Supervisors as set forth below.
2. Filing Deadline. A completed proof of insurance form for a bicycle event shall be filed with the Board of Supervisors no less than three (3) days before the date on which it is proposed to conduct the bicycle event.
3. Content. The proof of insurance form shall set forth the following information:
a. The name, address and telephone number of the person or persons
seeking to conduct such bicycle event;
<?xml:namespace prefix = v ns = “urn:schemas-microsoft-com:vml” />
b. If the bicycle event is proposed to be conducted by, or on behalf of, an organization, the address and telephone number of the organization, and of the authorized agents of such organization;
c. The date and time when the bicycle event is to be conducted;
d. The route to be traveled;
e. The approximate number of bicycles riders that will participate in the bicycle event.
- Certificate of Insurance. Attached to completed proof of insurance form, the authorized representative of the bicycle event shall provide to the Board of Supervisors a certificate of insurance showing that the representative has obtained comprehensive general liability insurance in the minimum amount of one million dollars ($1,000,000) to cover property damage and/or injuries, including death, to any persons in connection with the activities conducted in accordance with the bicycle event. The certificate shall include an additional insured endorsement page that names the County, and its officers, employees, agents, and representatives as additional insureds.
- Fee. No bicycle event permit fee or filing fee shall be charged by the Board of Supervisors.
- Deficiencies. The Board of Supervisors shall advise the authorized representative of the bicycle event in writing of any deficiencies in the completed proof of insurance form within 24 hours of the filing of the form with the Board of Supervisors.
SECTION 5. WAIVER OF LIABILITY
If bicycle event participants are required to sign a waiver of liability, the waiver shall include language waiving any claim against the County and its officers, employees, agents, and representatives.
SECTION 6. COUNTYINFRACTION
The violation of any provision of this ordinance is a county infraction which shall be punishable by a civil penalty of seven hundred fifty dollars ($750.00). If the infraction is a repeat offense, it shall be punishable by a civil penalty of one thousand dollars ($1,000) for each repeat offense. A separate offense shall be deemed to have been committed for each day or portion of a day that a violation continues.
SECTION 7. SEVERABILITY CLAUSE
If any of the provisions of this ordinance are for any reason illegal or void, then the lawful provisions of this document, which are separable from the unlawful provision shall be and remain in full force and effect, the same as if the ordinance contained no illegal or void provisions.
SECTION 8. EFFECTIVE DATE
This ordinance shall be in effect upon its final passage, approval and publication as provided by law.
Adopted and passed by the __________________County Board of Supervisors on this _________ day of ________________, 2008.