earlier this afternoon, i spoke by phone with jim johnson, one of the three members of the hardin county board of supervisors, discussing today's action regarding "ordinance #43," the anti-bicycle ordinance.
mr. johnson told me that the board took the first step toward repealing the ill-advised law, enacted surreptitously july 16, 2008, on the advice of david vestal of the iowa state association of counties [isac]. explaining that the process of repealing an ordinance is the same as enacting one, the board must have public notice and opportunities for discussion, and then vote twice to repeal it. the first hearing and opportunity to vote to repeal is now set for wednesday, september 24, at 1015 am, at the courthouse in eldora. mr. johnson told me that they are following the recommendation of isac, in light of the agreement of the des moines register to change the ragbrai insurance policy and the rider waiver.
mr. johnson also disclosed that the board, upon voting once to repeal, can also vote to waive any additional readings and delcare the ordinance repealed as early as the date of the first reading. he indicated that the board would so vote to repeal and waive additional readings unless between now and then, or at the meeting september 24, a large number of folks showed up speaking in favor of retaining ordinance #43.
curiously, mr. johnson told me, when i asked him "why just bicycles?" that the county engineer told him that the county roads were not designed for bicycles but for motor vehicles only. i asked him if ever, or at least in his recollection, had hardin county every had a claim filed against them by a bicyclist as a result of a crash or injury, and he said no, but did quickly mention that a hardin county bicyclist "was life-flighted to a hospital this year because of a crash on ragbrai just a few weeks ago" and that he was still going through rehabilitation. he also told me that ragbrai had traveled through hardin county at least three times in years past, and never with a claim for damages.
mr. johnson also told me that crawford county, after they settled their case, called ALL the other 98 counties to warn them to prepare for such claims, since now "bicyclists have found a way to get money from the deep pockets for when they crash." he told me that hardin county is self-insured, meaning that they would have to pay the entirety of any claims.
crawford county, it should be remembered, has an insurance carrier, and only had to pay a $5,000 deductible, of the $350,000 negligence settlement against them.
i asked mr. johnson, if as he was advising them to adopt this model ordinance, did david vestal take the time to explain to the hardin county supervisors that the actual basis of the claim against them was for the negligence of the county employee who removed the warning pylons, leaving exposed the wide expansion crack into which two other riders had previously ridden and crashed, leaving THEM seriously injured, after which mr. ulrich ALSO crashed and was fatally injure at the exact same spot--and NOT for merely the condition of the road itself?
mr. johnson told me that "he had heard that," but that it wasn't from david vestal, and he was uncertain where he'd heard it, nor whether the story was in fact the truth. i told him that those were INDEED the facts, and he said, "oh."
mr. johnson gave no indication whether he had seen the video interview i had sent him earlier, following the illegal ride around hardin county.
he did tell me that there were a couple local cyclists who spoke very supportingly on behalf of the board, and that there was "a woman from iowa city who was there for the iowa bicycle coalition."
the kim west radio cycling show will keep you apprised of this situation,