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  1. #1
    Senior Member Shemp's Avatar
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    Ragbrai banned from Iowa County thanks to cyclist's family

    I predicted this when the lawsuit was first filed, and now it's happened. Ragbrai is banned because a county no longer wants to be held liable for cyclists' injuries or death after a cyclist who died on the route sued the county for a crack in the road that led to a cyclist death. Torques me off immensely.

    http://www.siouxcityjournal.com/arti...710063ccaa.txt

    DENISON, Iowa (AP) -- Crawford County has banned an annual bike ride across Iowa from using its roads.

    County supervisors passed a resolution that says the Register's Annual Great Bike Ride Across Iowa, or RAGBRAI, would no longer be allowed to use roads in the county.

    The decision follows a settlement of a lawsuit filed by the family of a man who died after he lost control of his bike on a county road during RAGBRAI 2004.

    The lawsuit, which was settled for $350,000, claims Kirk Ullrich, of Davenport, was riding his bike on a county road when his tire fell into a gap causing him to crash.

    Ullrich's family filed the lawsuit claiming Crawford County was negligent in its maintenance of the road.

    The county did not admit negligence in settling the lawsuit but decided to not let RAGBRAI use its roads in the future.

    "RAGBRAI at this point would not be welcomed in this county because of the lawsuit factors," said Dan Muhlbauer, chairman of the board of supervisors. "As long as the laws read the way they do, I don't want them in my county. I would be 100 percent against RAGBRAI coming through Crawford County.

    "Have the fun, but if something goes wrong, don't sue the county because our roads are not made for bicycles," Muhlbauer said. "I don't know if any county would want them. If something goes wrong we're liable."

    He said he hopes the state will pass laws to protect counties from such liabilities.

    The county's insurance will pay the settlement.

    The resolution, approved Tuesday, states that the county's roads are not designed to meet the specific standards related to bicycle travel and constitute an unacceptable risk to participants in RAGBRAI and other similar events.

    County officials notified RAGBRAI officials of their decision in a letter following the board's action.

    T.J. Juskiewicz, RAGBRAI director, said no other local or county governments have banned the event.

    "We will not go to a place where they don't want the event," Juskiewicz said. "Most places want RAGBRAI."

  2. #2
    Road Runner DougG's Avatar
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    Can they really do this without just banning all bicycles? In my mind there is nothing special about an event like this: it's just a large number of cyclists presumably legally using the roads as they ride through the county. As far as I know, it's not like a race where they would be arranging to close the roads, have police block intersections, etc.

    So how can they identify this specific "event" and prevent the bicyclists from using the roads?

  3. #3
    Healthy and active twobikes's Avatar
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    Why does this thread appear twice?
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  4. #4
    married to the bike Halfstep's Avatar
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    Let me preface these comments by saying I work in municipal government and am not just talking out of my ass.

    The county's response is indeed a strange one. I have to wonder about the reasoning of its legal counsel and I find it highly improbable that it did not receive some. What if the cyclist had been alone? Would they have then banned all cyclists from using their roads? What if it had been a local club ride? Would that club then be banned? What if a car had hit a pothole and then the driver had died as a result of the ensuing accident? Would they then ban all cars?

    The real issue isn't RAGBRAI. The real issue is summed up in Mr. Muhlbauer's statement "... don't sue the county because our roads are not made for bicycles." Last time I reviewed a street construction project specification contract, there weren't any bicycle-specific construction requirements. Mr. Muhlbauer and the other commissioners need to realize the maintenance of their roads applies to all users, not just cars and trucks.

    I doubt RAGBRAI will have any trouble organizing next year's ride since most Iowa communities lobby to be included, not excluded. However, if more communities follow Crawford County's example, I hope RAGBRAI pushes the issue.
    "If people insist on rowing or jogging or bicycling, can't we at least get them to deliver the mail?" -- Bill Hall, Lewiston, Idaho, Tribune

  5. #5
    Senior Member one_beatnik's Avatar
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    Why does this thread appear twice?
    Where's the other?

    I think this decision is just plain unenforceable and over-reaction. The whole lawsuit thing was ridiculous. The man signed a waiver stating he knows and accepts the risks of riding on public roads. Granted the waiver only holds the Register not responsible not the county. This was some woman's attempt at money grabbing. I put it in the same category as the Mcdonalds hot coffee suit. Put it before a jury and see what happens.

  6. #6
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    Senior Member iab's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by one_beatnik View Post
    Put it before a jury and see what happens.
    Sweet, our own P&R thread.

    Unfortunately, the $350,000 was probably cheaper for the county than letting a jury decide.

    Not knowing all the facts; was he wearing a helmet, how big was the crack, had the crack been there for a very long time, etc, I know not all roads are perfect, for bicycles and in some cases, motorized vehicles. I would lean towards there is danger in riding a bike, I could hit a pot hole, get a flat, flip over the bars and break my neck. To me, that is an inherent risk, and as a jury member, I wouldn't give anybody a dime.

    I'm no lawyer but maybe the difference is that between an organized event versus riding on your own? The state/county/city must give a permit for any kind of organized event. Maybe that permit opens them up to liability. Does anyone here with a law degree know?

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    It'd be interesting to know if any motorist has successfully sued Crawford County regarding an accident. If one has, and the County didn't then ban cars, why not?

  8. #8
    Healthy and active twobikes's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by one_beatnik View Post
    Where's the other?
    In Road Cycling where it already has 68 posts.
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  9. #9
    Senior Member one_beatnik's Avatar
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    He was wearing a helmet. He caught the crack between the concrete in the center of the road on a downhill and it flipped him. They estimated his speed at about 45 mph. This was in 2004. It's the first time I had seen RAGBRAI stopped. We got stopped in the town just before this hill while they took care of things. He was life flighted to Sioux City. This picture was from the DM Register:

    That hill is not as steep as it looks but good enough.

  10. #10
    Senior Member cyclpsycho's Avatar
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    This is almost as ridiculous as the guy who sued (and won) because he didn't know it's a good idea to have lights at night and was hit. Pro racers die every year and they can sure handle a bike better than any of us. Have they sued the Tour to ban bikes in France? Bicycling can be a dangerous activity. We all know it. Accept responsibility for your own actions!
    Last edited by cyclpsycho; 10-12-07 at 08:02 PM.
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  11. #11
    Senior Member one_beatnik's Avatar
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    Just an update on this issue. First off all, (I didn't realize this) the county did not lose the lawsuit. They settled out of court. However, now other counties are contemplating the ban on RAGBRAI. (http://www.bikeiowa.com/asp/hotnews/...sp?NewsID=2621) Like most legal issues, it's a very convoluted issue and Crawford county has set a precedent. It seems to me that this could actually lead to a ban of all bicycles on Iowa county roads. One of the comments made in the article sited above is that many riders on RAGBRAI are not registered and have not signed the waiver. What a lawsuit (un)happy society we have. And as usual, it's again possible the the few mess it up for the most.

  12. #12
    RAGBRAI rider from Vegas skeptic's Avatar
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    Crazy enough, I was somewhere in that crowd at the top of the hill. I was riding with my brother that year, and we waited up top for several hours. We had no idea that the guy had died until after RAGBRAI was over. The hill was pretty steep and you have to be careful of cracks, but that is just part of riding in Iowa. It is quite hilly and there are cracks due to the drastic temp changes of the seasons. Honestly, Iowa should be commended for the shape of the roads. With about 30,000 riders on RAGBRAI every year, I am surprised that there are not more accidents.

    Quote Originally Posted by one_beatnik View Post
    He was wearing a helmet. He caught the crack between the concrete in the center of the road on a downhill and it flipped him. They estimated his speed at about 45 mph. This was in 2004. It's the first time I had seen RAGBRAI stopped. We got stopped in the town just before this hill while they took care of things. He was life flighted to Sioux City. This picture was from the DM Register:

    That hill is not as steep as it looks but good enough.

  13. #13
    RAGBRAI rider from Vegas skeptic's Avatar
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    Thanks for the update, but I would not be to concerned about RAGBRAI being banned in Iowa. Most counties beg for the event to come through their area. It may sound like a big deal to say an entire county does not want RAGBRAI to come through, but there are 99 tiny counties in Iowa. Iowa counties are small. In comparison, there are 16 counties in Nevada.

    RAGBRAI will be as strong as ever next year, and the year after. If you have ever been on RAGBRAI, then you know what I am talking about.


    Quote Originally Posted by one_beatnik View Post
    Just an update on this issue. First off all, (I didn't realize this) the county did not lose the lawsuit. They settled out of court. However, now other counties are contemplating the ban on RAGBRAI. (http://www.bikeiowa.com/asp/hotnews/...sp?NewsID=2621) Like most legal issues, it's a very convoluted issue and Crawford county has set a precedent. It seems to me that this could actually lead to a ban of all bicycles on Iowa county roads. One of the comments made in the article sited above is that many riders on RAGBRAI are not registered and have not signed the waiver. What a lawsuit (un)happy society we have. And as usual, it's again possible the the few mess it up for the most.

  14. #14
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    Ragbrai should just stay of of the county.....they should encourage cyclist's to stay out of the county...if they don't want us there then that is ok with me. I don't want to be there....I can go somewhere else.

    Hopefully this will all make an impact on the county. I doubt it will but that is the idea.

    Also I believe that insurance paid to settle the case as well.....so the county FEELS like they lost because they settled so they are mad.....bummer they have to look so stupid...

  15. #15
    Senior Member one_beatnik's Avatar
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    Also I believe that insurance paid to settle the case as w
    This is actually part of the problem. The insurance company insures about 48 of Iowa's counties. They are the ones that are pushing for the ban.

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