Letters to the law

For a long while now I have been riding bikes in Iowa.  For a shorter while, but it keeps getting longer, I have been taking a more active approach in trying to improve the general state of cycling in the State.  I have helped organize local Bike to Work Week events, volunteered at the Bike Library, and served a sentence on both the Iowa Bike Coalition’s advisory committee and bored of directors.

There is a bill moving through the legislature aimed at improving cyclist’s lot that I am choosing to support, both on its own merits and on the grounds that bike advocacy as a whole needs a big victory in this State, so lets get after it.  I wrote some letters to some legislators, here is what they said.

#1: I am writing to urge you to support House File 128.  As the transportation committee chair, you are no doubt familiar with the different components that comprise a solid transportation system.  I have a degree in Community and Regional Planning from Iowa State University and I am familiar with the components as well.  I am also a dedicated cyclist who lives car free year round in Iowa City and is a proponent of appropriate transportation alternatives.  For many people a bicycle is the best choice to get where they need to go and the State of Iowa needs to recognize that a bicycle is a vehicle both by definition and in practice.  The time has come for this legislation to pass and I ask you to help make that happen.

#2:  I am a cyclist in Iowa City and I have been riding the roads of Iowa for nearly 20 years.  I am writing to urge you to support House File 128.  I have many years of experience and I feel comfortable on the roads but that does not mean I am comfortable with the protections I am provided by current State law.  There is a loophole in the code big enough to ride a tandem through.  My bicycle is my vehicle, I am it’s engine.  Please help to correct the inconsistencies that exist and help make Iowa an even better and safer place to ride.

#3:  I am writing to urge you to support House File 128.  I live car free in the great state of Iowa and over the past 20 years I have ridden thousands of miles on our roads.  I take care to ride safely and defensively, but it should come to the surprise of no one that I am still in danger out there, every day.  I, and every other cyclist in the State, deserve equal rights to use the roads.  I am not looking for anything here other than a full and complete legal right to be on the roads, riding a bicycle to where I need to get.  I ask for your support.

ps:  Last August my partner and I traveled to and from my mother’s retirement party in Antioch, IL by bicycle.  On the return trip we camped just outside of Dubuque and spent a wonderful morning in your downtown area at a coffee shop before battling your formidable hills back to the pleasant rollers we enjoy down here in Johnson County.  A memorable portion of our trip!

#4:  I am a resident of Iowa City and I live car free.  To get where I need to go I am a pedestrian sometimes but primarily a cyclist and I need your help.  It is not safe out there.  I have been riding in Iowa for 20 years now and I consider myself to be a skilled rider, but I cannot control the actions of motorists.  Too often they pass me too close, too fast.  Often while talking on their cellphone or eating a bowl of cereal out of their lap.  I do not want extra rights, or special rights, I just want equal rights.  When I am travelling by bicycle it is my vehicle and I am it’s engine.  For the state of Iowa to not recognize my right to use the roads is irresponsible.  Please correct this by supporting House File 128

#5 (I am still waiting for a response…):  I sent the following email to you on Sunday evening.  I have contacted many legislators so far regarding this bill and have received responses from all thus far save you.  As you are my elected representative I am very interested in the position you are taking for this bill and look forward to opening a dialog with you on the issues.  I have done a great deal of volunteer bicycle advocacy over the years, serving on the Iowa Bicycle Coalition’s advisory committee and board of directors as well as the planning committee for local Bike to Work Week events and the steering committee of the Iowa City Bike Library so I expect you can understand my keen interest in this bill.  I assume that you are busy and I assure you that I am as well, I look forward to your reply either by email or telephone.

If you want to write a letter to an elected to express your opinion, whatever it may be, on House File 128 here is the place to find them:  http://www.legis.state.ia.us/FindLeg/


2 Responses so far »

  1. 1

    d.p. said,

    Yeah, you urbanites have a somewhat informed representation. My letter went something like this.

    “Dear Dawn Pettingill,
    I know I haven’t written since you changed parties to support the Tobacco lobby. I hope that’s working well for you. I was touched when I read your story about you finding solace using tobacco as a single mother in your trailer with your young child.
    The reason I’m writing, is to support legislation to protect the rights of bicyclist on roadways. Every day I see our local bicycling commuters outside the QuikStar smoking and drinking their 29 cent refill coffee. Some are on their way to work, some are out to seek redemption a nickel at a time, some are looking for gainful employment to support our rural economies.
    Supporting the rights will endear those that have lost the right to operate a motor vehicle and support your future re-election.”

    Gotta know your audience, I guess.

  2. 2

    Scott said,

    But… bikes don’t belong on the road. They belong on the sidewalks or bike trails. 🙂

    Check out the comments on this article:

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