Riders on a previous RAGBRAI

Thousands of bicyclists are dominating many roads across northern Iowa this week during the 45th edition of the Register’s Annual Great Bike Ride Across Iowa, or RAGBRAI.

Iowa State Patrol trooper Vince Kurtz says the traffic dynamics in the region will be radically changing for the next six days.

“There’s going to be a lot of bikes, we’re estimating over 15,000 bicycles plus an untold number of support staff that will go along with that,” Kurtz says. “Roads will be busy with bicycles and extra traffic. We’ll see a lot of support vehicles, buses, RVs and so forth.”

Kurtz is putting all drivers in the region on alert as most highways along the route will be temporarily closed and many other roads will be clogged with cyclists.

“It is important that all motorists take notice of that in advance and prepare themselves ahead of time,” Kurtz says. “How do I interact with bicycles on the road? What can they do, what can’t they do?”

Trooper Vince Kurtz

It has to be a give-and-take relationship, Kurtz says, as both the cyclists and motorists have rights and responsibilities.

“When we think about the bicyclist, they’re required to stay on the right half of the road, just like cars are. They’re required to stop at stop signs and obey traffic control devices,” Kurtz says. “Likewide, motorists need to respect the bicyclists out on the road. Give them ample space if they’re passing bicyclists.”

Sunday was the first day of the ride, taking cyclists from Orange City to Spencer. Today, they’ll pedal from Spencer to Algona. Other overnight stops this week include: Clear Lake, Charles City, Cresco and Waukon. The ride will conclude Saturday in Lansing.

By Dennis Morrice, KLEM, Le Mars