Any cyclist who has ever read an online news story about cycling is familiar with this phenomenon—the comments section, where drivers vent their fury at cyclists, regardless of facts or circumstances. In fact, the actual facts of the news story are as irrelevant to these internet-ragers as the law. The article could be about a law-abiding cyclist being hit by a law-breaking motorist, for example, or it could be about a law-abiding cyclist being assaulted by a motorist in violation of the law. No matter. The inevitable Pavlovian reaction from these rageaholics will be to recount how “this one time I saw some other cyclist break the law.”
A few months ago, Bob received a call from a call from a cyclist in West Virginia. The cyclist—Tony Patrick—had an amazing story to tell; while out on a training ride in southern Ohio, he had been ordered off the road by a Sheriff’s Deputy, and when he asserted his right to ride on the road, he was confronted, beaten, and tased by law enforcement officers.
In July, Bob published a Legally Speaking column (See "A question of liability") in which he discussed how one Iowa county passed a resolution banning RAGBRAI from county roads, and the subsequent effort by the Iowa State Association of Counties to pass statewide legislation that would have curtailed the legal rights of cyclists who are injured on county roads. The Crawford County ban and subsequent legislative efforts took shape in the aftermath of a cycling death that occurred in Crawford County during RAGBRAI. Due to the facts of the case, the county was alleged to be negligent, and settled the case out of court with the cyclist's widow.
Fortunately, there was a distinct lack of interest for the proposed legislation in the Iowa Legislature. This week, BikeIowa reported that the Crawford County Board of Supervisors voted unanimously to rescind the RAGBRAI ban.