Letter to the Editor

Bike trail solutions

Thursday, May 26, 2016

An open letter to Iowa Senator Mark Segebart:

Dear Senator Segebart,

You probably saw the front page of Sunday's Register and the article on cyclists that have been killed in Iowa during the last few years. You might know Joleen Stork a long time teacher in Carroll, who was killed recently cycling near her home here in Carroll County. What you haven't read about are those of us who have been hit while riding on the highway and somehow didn't die. I was hit by a pickup in 2011 in an accident very similar to Joleen's.

Cyclists used to worry only about drunk drivers, now we worry about drunks and drivers texting, talking on the phone or doing any number of things in addition to driving at 60 mph. Cycling is a great activity but cars and bikes are never going to be compatible because of the size and speed difference. Nor am I so naive to think that we can somehow pass a law that will make any meaningful difference. Even if we could, several times the cyclist is at fault through our own distracted driving.

The only solution I see is to make a major investment in bike trails to accommodate the increasing number of cyclists and the demands and opportunity they make. A great trail is not just good for cyclists but is also a boon to tourism. Restaurants, shops and motels all benefit from cyclists and their needs.

I suggest a plan of at least 10 years where every town of 5000 is connected by bike trail. This plan might include closing paved roads to cars, investing in paving current trails and linking them with nearby trails. We need both a statewide investment of funds . and a statewide plan. During this plan period I suggest we invest as much in trails as we do in other transportation. This increased spending could come from gas tax. Cyclists drive too and also buy gas.

I urge you to support bike trails and the building of trails. Here in Carroll we have a great trail that goes right out my front door. I am very lucky to do 95% of my riding on trails, not everyone is so lucky.