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  • Posted Oct 12, 2012

There is the phrase, “choose your battles wisely.” In my opinion that implies each battle involves some degree of risk for an adverse outcome.

As cyclists, every time we ride our bikes, we are involved in a mini-battle. It is us versus other users of the roadways and trails, or perhaps us versus the sometimes unpredictable Iowa weather. Typically these battles end well---with the rider and all others involved returning home safe and unscathed.


As cycling advocates,however, we must alsochoose our battles. For example, the recent Grimes ordinance related to using the trail that runs alongside the roadway south of Grimes. My understanding is that the recently-enacted Grimes ordinance requires riders to use the trail rather than ride on the adjacent roadway.


This section of road has been part of my team’s weekend training route for many, many years. I probably ride it more than 30 times per year. Prior to the trail being installed, of course we rode on the road going south. At that time there was no other option. There was a shoulder, but it was a “dicey” section of road…narrow, we never felt comfortable on that little stretch.

So, the city of Grimes re-designed that section…removed the shoulder, added curbs like a typical city street (which is perhaps not typical for a rural-type roadway...curbs and no shoulder at all). They also built the bike path next to the road.


Now when we train, we ride the bike path adjacent to the short section of road. The reason we ride the Grimes bike path is because it is significantly safer. Do we have a legal right to ride that road…probably by Iowa Code “yes,” by Grimes ordinance “no.”


In a Des Moines Register story about the Grimes trail, Nate Steele, a “top” Des Moines Register opinion commenter who lists University of South Carolina as his location, wrote: “Many cyclists can easily ride at 25 mph. That’s not going to go over real well on the multi-use recreational trail they are now limited to.”

Wow Nate! The “many cyclists” you refer to must bethe former members of Postal or Discovery, because many of the racers I ride with have to ride really hard to do a 25mph+ time trial. Maybe those really fastriders are the “very small subset” of riders Grimes Mayor Armstrong was referring to in his comment about some riders being opposed to the trail ordinance?


So, do I want to fight this battle of challenging the Grimes ordinance and possibly receiving a ticket, and far worse, possibly getting nailed by a car while riding that road? No, this particular situation is not a battle I am willing to fight.


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Dear CoachRandy:
While I do not live in Grimes or even in Iowa, I do a fair amount of riding in far northeast Iowa.  As a member of the riding public, as well as a member of the League of American Wheelmen, this is a battle that I would be willing to fight.

We cyclists have a right to the road (Iowa Code 321.234), but as long as some of us are willing to roll over and go lie down by our dish when told to by some clueless bureaucrat we will never fully enjoy that right.  It may become necessary to prohibit cyclists from specific roads such as Interstate highways, but to force a cyclist to use a multi-use trail simply because it is there is no better than the way blacks and whites were segregated back in the 1950s.  "Separate but equal" was found to be a fallacy with regard to schools, washrooms, drinking fountains, and public transportation; it is no less a fallacy when it involved adult cyclists going about their daily business in a lawful manner.

"Bicycle Bill" Scheitzach
Onalaska, WI

#1 - BicycleBill posted Nov 18, 2012


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