Cyclists React to Study Ranking Iowa a Dangerous Place to Ride

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DES MOINES, Iowa — A new study from ADT says Iowa isn’t a safe place to ride your bike.

While Los Angeles and New York are number one and two on the ADT list of dangerous cities for cyclists, Webster City, Iowa comes in third and then seven through 10 are Waterloo, Sioux City, Johnston, and Des Moines respectively. Justin Sheldon, general manager of Bike World in Urbandale said the ranking is unexpected.

“Usually we think of the central Iowa area as a very safe place to ride a bike with our great trail system and a good number of bike lanes, but I was very surprised at seeing Iowa having five of the top 10 cities on that list” said Sheldon.

Cyclists out for a ride Saturday afternoon agree.

“I’m from the Johnston area and so I think they definitely have a wide range of trails up there” said Holly Pohlmeier.

The study considered several factors including the number of bike commuters, the number of fatal crashes, protected bike lanes, bike safety laws and spending on bike friendly infrastructure per capita. The data was then weighted, fatal crashes carried more significance than the number of protected bike lanes for example. Despite their surprise, cyclists do say there could be improvements made to the area.

“I think through the city I feel a little more uncomfortable, even on the bike lanes it feels like there’s still a driver vs bicyclist culture” said Mallory Roush.

“The completion of some of the trails that have existed, you know you can’t always get across some of the major roads and kinda connecting some of the stuff up safer would be a great thing to see in the near future” said Sheldon.

However, cyclists we spoke to recognize that they too share the responsibility of making Iowa a safer place to ride.

“Visibility, we’re really big on wearing bright pieces of clothing and we recommend daytime running lights on people’s bikes to make them visible. Whether its sunny or dark outside, if you’re seen you have a better chance of not getting hit” said Sheldon.

“I just look both ways and be smart about it” said Roush.

The safest city in Iowa was Iowa City, but it ranks 767 out of 790 on the list. RAGBRAI will travel through Iowa City this year.