• Wed November 21 2007
  • Posted Nov 21, 2007
By KEN FUSON • Register Staff Writer • November 20, 2007 State lawmakers likely will be asked next year to consider legislation that would protect counties from liability lawsuits related to annual bicycling events such as RAGBRAI and BRR. Sixteen people, representing state and county officials, bicycle clubs and event promoters met Monday in Des Moines to discuss the Crawford County Board of Supervisors' decision to ban the Register's Annual Great Bicycle Ride Across Iowa in that county. Last month's action came after the county paid $350,000 to settle a lawsuit filed by the widow of a RAGBRAI rider who died in 2004 after hitting a crack in a Crawford County road and being thrown from his bicycle. Crawford County officials attended Monday's meeting, which lasted more than two hours and was closed to reporters. The group appointed a subcommittee that will draft legislation to address the concerns of counties as well as bikers, said David Vestal, general counsel for the Iowa State Association of Counties. Vestal said he has spoken to representatives of eight to 10 other Iowa counties who are interested in enacting a ban similar to that imposed by Crawford County. The association has advised those counties to wait to see whether a solution can be reached. "We told them if you're going to do something like Crawford County, wait and see if we can get a fix first," Vestal said. Vestal said everyone involved at Monday's meeting wanted annual events like RAGBRAI and BRR (Bike Ride to Rippey) to continue. He said Crawford County officials said they would welcome RAGBRAI back if their liability concerns were addressed. T.J. Juskiewicz, RAGBRAI's director, said the challenge will be to draft legislation that would ease county fears while still respecting the rights of bicyclists. "I can see where they're coming from," he said of Crawford County officials. "They had their points to make. They wanted to make sure something like this wouldn't happen again in the future." The issue is expected to be addressed when the county association holds its annual conference with supervisors on Nov. 30. Questions remain whether Crawford County can legally enforce a ban on bicycling events. Reporter Ken Fuson can be reached at (515) 284-8501 or

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