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2016 Is Iowa's Deadliest For Cyclists In More Than A Decade

Michael Leland/IPR file photo
One of this year's cycling fatalities in Iowa involved a Florida man riding to the Missouri River before participating in the annual RAGBRAI ride.

This year is ending as one of the deadliest for Iowa bicyclists in more than a decade.  The Iowa Bicycle Coalition says 11 cyclists died while riding this year.  Iowa hasn’t had that many cycling fatalities since 2005, and it’s the most since 2010, when eight cyclists died while riding.  The Coalition’s executive director, Mark Wyatt, says he fears this year is not an anomaly.

“We’ve seen vehicle miles traveled increase over the last year, and if fuel prices stay where they are, we anticipate that will continue to go up,” he says. “I think we need to take action now and create some steps to make bicycling in traffic safer.”

Wyatt says his organization is pushing for laws that could make cycling safer, including one that would require vehicles passing cyclists to change lanes.

“This is easily taught in drivers’ ed classes.  It is easy for law enforcement to differentiate between a motorist being in one lane or the other, and it’s something that’s easy for Iowa drivers to follow.”

Such a bill passed the Iowa Senate last year, but did not make it out of committee in the House. 

Wyatt says five of the cyclists who died while riding this year where struck from behind while operating legally on roads.  Two of the cycling fatalities this year were incidents that did not involve motor vehicles.  In three of the cases, fault was attributed to the cyclist.  One of the deaths was a hit-and-run collision.

Wyatt says the Coalition is also urging lawmakers in 2017 to increase the penalty for texting while driving.  He calls it one of several dangerous driving practices, along with drunken and drowsy driving.

Iowa bicycle fatalities in recent years:

2015: 4

2014: 5

2013: 4

2012: 2

2011: 5

2010: 8

Source: Iowa Bicycle Coalition

Michael Leland is IPR's News Director