Bicycling advocates are urged to trade their spandex for suits and head for Des Moines for Iowa Bicycling Day at the Iowa Capitol.
Mark Wyatt, executive director of the Iowa Bicycle Coalition, says they’ll be lobbying state legislators on a range of cycling-related issues, with a headquarters set up in the Legislative Dining Room.
“If you’re not able to make it, that doesn’t mean you can’t participate,” Wyatt says. “We’re holding a virtual lobby day for bicycling. Go to our website, IowaBicycleCoalition.org, sign in there and if you’ve never taken action before, this is the day to take action and let your legislators know what your priorities are.”
One key measure Wyatt says they’ll be pushing for is called I-WILL, for Iowa’s Water and Land Legacy, to further expand the state’s already-stellar bike trail system. “There’s a proposal in the Senate to enact IWILL, which is the Outdoor Recreation and Natural Resources Trust Fund,” Wyatt says. “This is what was approved (by voters) about 12 years ago so there’s a proposal right now to fund IWILL and that will produce probably $9 million in trails.”
The legacy is to be funded with a sales tax increase under the Senate proposal. Another piece of legislation would require any cell phone use while driving to be done in hands-free or voice-activated mode. Wyatt says drivers who spend the greatest amount of their driving time interacting with a cell phone have the highest rates of near-crashes and crashes.
“Distracted driving caused six deaths on Iowa roads last year and one of them was a bicyclist and possibly two,” Wyatt says. “We’re continuing to be concerned about distracted driving and anything we can do to reduce that is a good thing. Requiring the phone to be in a hands-free or voice-activated mode while you’re driving we think is a positive step forward.”
The coalition also wants to see a standard set of penalties in fatal crashes. Under the current Iowa Code, fatal or serious bike crashes are not subject to the same enhanced penalties that apply to fatal or serious injury crashes involving motorists, motorcyclists or pedestrians.