RAGBRAI Ride Right committee shares safety info

RAGBRAI® is coming to Jefferson July 23. The RIDE RIGHT committee of RAGBRAI, whose primary concern is to promote bicycle safety to everyone in the community, wants residents to be ready for this great event. The committee also want residents to know what to expect on Monday as the 20,000-plus riders and support crews arrive and then leave on Tuesday morning.

Cyclists will be passing through all day and residents will see cyclists forever. They will have a hard time crossing the street or getting out of their driveway, not only on the main route, but in residential areas where bikers are riding to and from their camping and housing locations. So please plan accordingly.

RAGBRAI has some very specific safety concerns that residents need to know for the day RAGBRAI is in town. If people follow these recommendations, accidents should be held to a minimum.

People in town are discouraged from joining in as the riders come into town and as they are leaving town the next morning. This only makes the ride more dangerous as most residents and young people are inexperienced in riding with large groups, and many accidents involving those who tag along happen every year.

“High-fives” to the riders are not encouraged as accidents can be caused when a rider reaches out to touch a hand, plus it’s dangerous to have anyone that close to the bicycle route. Rather, set out lawn chairs or stand along the sidewalk and cheer them into, or as they leave town. Riders love to have this positive affirmation after completing a long ride into the overnight town. Ask them “Where are you from?” They love to answer back with their hometown, and you’ll be amazed at the assortment of locations from which these riders hail.

It may seem like a good idea on a hot day to get out the water hose and spray the riders as they ride by, but do this only if they want to be sprayed. Many riders carry supplies and expensive electronics on their bike and don’t want water sprayed on them. This can also distract riders and cause accidents when they try to dodge the water.

Tabloids, flyers, water bottles, food items or anything else handed to the riders as they come into or leave town is discouraged. Riders can’t carry anything on their bicycles. Reaching for something is distracting and could cause them to have an accident. Water bottles and such are many times consumed shortly after being handed out and are disposed of along the shoulder of the road creating a hazard and trash problem. Handouts should be distributed in the campgrounds or downtown after the riders are off their bikes.

With increased bicycle traffic where you are not typically expecting bike riders, use caution (looking in all directions) when opening car doors, backing out of drives, or crossing intersections which could in turn cause injury to cyclists or force them to swerve into traffic to avoid you.

For those along the route between towns, residents are encouraged to keep water stands, etc. to the right side of the road for safety. The road will not be closed and cyclists should not have to cross oncoming traffic or bikers behind them to get to the stand. Shoulders should be clear of debris and have plenty of room for the riders to pull their bikes off the highway.

If you are planning to sell refreshments of any kind contact your County Extension Office and/or State Department of Inspections and Appeals for state food and beverage laws. In general, cyclists will only stop at the top of a hill for refreshments, not at the bottom or while pedaling up or down.

The Jefferson RIDE RIGHT committee wants to make this a safe and fun event. Please do your best to show our RAGBRAI guests the pride of Iowa.

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