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Supervisors want 2008 Legislature to look into issue of bicyclists on secondary roads

By Staff | Dec 15, 2007

ESTHERVILLE–The Emmet County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday joined other county boards around the state when it approved a resolution concerning bicycles and secondary roads.

The Iowa State Association of Counties, following a civil judgement against Crawford County in the death of a participant in the 2007 Register’s Great Bicycle Ride Across Iowa (RAGBRAI), recommended all counties in Iowa support a resolution asking the 2008 Iowa Legislature to address the issue of bicycles using secondary roads.

“These roads aren’t designed for bicycles,” said Emmet County board chair Alan Madden.

The resolution makes the following points:

n RAGBRAI is a unique event that draws thousands of visitors to Iowa annually and promotes tourism.

n Biking, in general, is an excellent form of exercise enjoyed by millions of Americans, as well as a pollution-free form of transportation that should be encouraged.

n Secondary road systems are not designed or maintained to meet any specific standards related to bicycle travel.

n The recent lawsuit against Crawford County involving the death of a RAGBRAI participant demonstrates the need to address the use of county secondary road systems by the event and cyclists in general.

n The current situation has created an unacceptable exposure to future bicycle-related lawsuits against Emmet County.

“Now therefore be it resolved by the board of supervisors that they respectfully request that the Iowa Legislature address this issue in 2008 on a statewide basis so that the board of supervisors does not have to act at the local level to regulate the use by cyclists of secondary roads under the jurisdiction of the county,” the resolution reads.

Supervisors agreed the resolution was not specific to RAGBRAI and that the event is beneficial to the state; however, they were unanimous in approving the resolution because of their stance that the county’s secondary roads are not constructed for bicycle use.

Crawford County was sued by the family of Kirk Ulrich of Davenport whose bicycle tire fell into a gap on a county road causing him to lose control and crash, resulting in his death.

The lawsuit alleged the county was negligent in its maintenance of the road. Crawford County and the Ulrich family eventually settled the lawsuit for a cost of $350,000 in October.

The county, however, never admited negligence in the settlement. It instead chose to not allow RAGBRAI to use its roads in the future–banning the event.

Taking Crawford County’s lead, ISAC is behind all Iowa counties to consider the resolution Emmet County passed on Tuesday.

In other business, the board:

n Approved two Web site agreements with the Iowa State Association of County Auditors.

n Approved changing about four miles of county roads to Level B roads.

n Heard the Northwest Aging Association annual report from organization director Cynthia Beauman.

n Approved changing county employee health insurance carriers.

Contact Nathan Christophel at (712) 362-2622 or editor@esthervilledailynews.com and visit our photo sharing Web site at cu.esthervilledailynews.com