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Grimes considers plan to restrict bicyclists

The Des Moines Register: Grimes considers plan to restrict bicyclists

The move would be temporary and on one stretch of road.

Sep 10, 2012


The Grimes City Council will continue its discussion tonight on a proposed bicycle ordinance that would restrict cyclists temporarily from a two-mile stretch of road.

Mayor Tom Armstrong said Monday that the council is in the process of rewriting the city’s bike ordinance so it is in line with other metro communities.

“Like all cities, you make tweaks to fit our specific city, and that’s what we’re doing,” Armstrong said.

The ordinance is not trying to outlaw bicycles from streets throughout the city, the mayor said. Officials just want bicyclists off a short section of street for safety reasons.

The issue cyclists have is that the change sets a precedent for other cities to remove bikes from the road, which is against Iowa code.

The proposed amendment states: “whenever a useable path for bicycles has been provided adjacent to a roadway, bicycle riders shall use such path and shall not use the roadway known as South James Street from south sports complex to the south city limits of Grimes.”

Joe McAreavy, public works director, said the council is creating the ordinance in the interest of safety. The stretch under discussion is a narrow, curved road and there isn’t much space for cyclists, he said. A bike path is adjacent to the road.

No specific date for ending the restriction was written into the proposed ordinance. The hope is to have it lifted when South James Street is expanded into a four-lane road.

The expansion of the road is driven by its development, Armstrong said, which is part of the city’s transportation plan. It will be part of the developer’s responsibilities to widen the road on a particular development.

“We don’t know if there is someone who’s going to come and want to develop that land in the next two years or 10 years,” he said.

Josh Jones, 36, of Grimes is an avid biker. He said the specificity added to the ordinance didn’t change his concern.

“By and large, it just takes options away from us,” he said.

Sheri Ahern, 36, of Grimes uses the bike trail beside South James Street regularly with her children. She said she didn’t have a concern with the proposed change.

“If it’s for safety and it’s temporary, I don’t see what the issue is,” she said.