The leader of the Iowa Bicycle Coalition says an effort to ban bikes from farm to market roads isn’t the right way to try and improve safety. The Citizens for Safety Coalition of Iowa has begun to collect signatures for a petition asking Iowa lawmakers to place a question on the 2010 ballot to ban bicyclists from those roads. (see related story here.)
Mark Wyatt, executive director of the Iowa Bicycle Coalition says a ban won’t accomplish anything. Wyatt says safety needs to be emphasized, "but banning bicycles I don’t think accomplishes that." He says there are a lot of tools to make roadways safer for both motorist and bicyclists, and those tools need to be implemented.
Wyatt says existing laws provide a framework for sharing the road safely and there are other things that can be done. "It starts with roadway design changes, improved signage, better enforcement, education programs and awareness building, I think that really makes a difference, but a bike ban isn’t the answer to any of those tools that the governments have to address roadway safety," Wyatt says.
Wyatt says banning bikes would make a negative impact on the economy and health of Iowans. He says the recent economic study of the week-long RAGBRAI bike ride showed a $24-million impact in the state, and he says there are many charity and tourism fundraisers that depend on bicycling.
Healthwise, he says a study has shown a relationship between high rates of bicycling and a healthier population. Wyatt says bicycling can help lower rates of diabetes, high blood pressure, and obesity.
For more information on biking in Iowa, see the Iowa Bicycle Coalition website.