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House debates bike safety bill

Radio Iowa: House debates bike safety bill

by MATT KELLEY on FEBRUARY 25, 2010

All bicyclists on Iowa roads would have to wear bright colors to make them more visible to motorists under an amendment offered by Republican state lawmakers. Democrats resisted the idea during debate Wednesday on a bicycle safety bill. Representative Janet Peterson, a Democrat from Des Moines, rides in the statewide bike ride RAGBRAI every year.

Peterson told Representative Clel Baudler, a Republican from Greenfield, that the clothing requirement won’t work. Peterson says, “So everyone on RAGBRAI would have to wear, first off, a shirt, because I know there’s a lot of people on RAGBRAI with not a lot of clothing.” Baudler responds, “We have problems with RAGBRAI not being able to visibly identify the drivers.”

Baudler’s amendment would also require reflective clothing at night. Peterson notes the thousands of bike riders on the annual trek across the state often go to great lengths to distinguish themselves with costumes and other unique attire. Peterson says: “And secondly, they’d have to wear some form of yellow, orange or fluorescent. You’re going to make a lot of RAGBRAI teams angry with this amendment.” Baudler, a retired state trooper, responds: “I appreciate your concern. My concern is with the safety of the riders.”

Baudler says cyclists should have the same requirements as the operators of any other slow-moving vehicle. House Democrats are trying to get a bicycle safety bill approved this year by scaling back what the Senate passed last year.