On this weekend of Jan. 27th in Des Moines, they are hosting the Iowa Bike Expo. What a great opportunity for cyclists from around the area to come see what this sport has to offer. I have been to several of these events, but not because I am not an avid bicyclist.
My story starts on the evening of Aug. 13, 2012. A friend, Pete, and I decided to ride motorcycles to Luverne, MN and eat supper at Taco Johns. We ate, went for a short ride and then headed home. We stopped at Pete’s farm to look at a new combine he had just purchased. After that I got on my motorcycle and headed home.
It was 9:10 in the evening and the sun had completely set. It was a gorgeous evening and the motorcycle was purring like a kitten. All of a sudden, in my headlights I see five high school girls riding bicycles with no lights on their bikes. This is a 55 MPH zone. I hit the brakes but saw that I wasn’t going to be able to stop in time. I tried turning into the passing lane, but three of the girls were riding three wide. The girl riding closest to the yellow line was a little farther back from the other two girls. I saw I wasn’t going to be able to get around her, so I tried going in-between her and the middle girl. I ended up side-swiping the two girls and then went sliding down the blacktop.
The girl closest to the yellow line ended up with five bruised vertebra in her back. The other girl had a broken nose, thumb and ankle. I had road rash on my arms and legs.
It’s only by God’s grace no one was killed.
The sheriff’s department issued no tickets, even though Iowa requires you to have a white light on the front of bicycles and a red light or reflector on the back. I couldn’t believe it when I read that you don’t have to have a red flashing light on the back of bicycles. I farm for a living and know of no other piece of equipment that can travel down the road at night, without some type of flashing warning lights on it.
I shared my story with a friend from church who enjoys riding bicycles. I was telling him the Iowa bicycle laws need to be changed. He agreed and already has a flashing red light on the back of his bicycle.
He told me that Sen. Dave Johnson and Rep. John Wills were having an “Eggs and Issues” meeting in Rock Rapids and suggested that I talk to them about it. I did and they agreed that the law needs to be changed. So for the last five years I have been working to get the law changed.
At first the Iowa Bicycle Coalition didn’t support the bill because they said it would discourage lower income people who couldn’t afford a light and that the light didn’t work very well. They now support it because the LED lights available now are very low cost, are much brighter and the batteries last a long time.
I have traveled to Des Moines to try and help get it passed, but for the last five years the bill has failed. The failure of passing that bill is especially disappointing after I found out that a woman by Spirit Lake was killed by a car that hit her bicycle from behind. This happened a couple of years ago.
Every year cyclists get killed from being hit from behind at night. This could be avoided and has to be changed. Requiring a red flashing light on the back of every bicycle at night is a cheap and easy fix. – Daryl Hasche
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