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  • Mike Bell
  • Sun January 01 2017
  • Posted Jan 2, 2017

The number of bicyclists killed in accidents in Iowa in 2016 is the highest since 2005, according to a report by the Iowa Bicycle Coalition.


The group, a nonprofit organization which works to promote Iowa cycling, said 11 died due to fatal bicycle crashes in 2016, nine of them involving motor vehicles collision.


In five of the fatal crashes, motor vehicles struck the bicyclists from behind, failing to safely pass them, the group said.


Two of the 11 crashes did not involve a motor vehicle. A 35-year-old man was found dead after riding off a trail in Clive and a 10-year-old child hit a tree in Davenport.


One crash occurred when an adult male died while bicycling near Cherokee. It is believed to be a hit and run, the group said.


Three of the 11 crashes had contributing circumstances attributed to the bicyclist. A child in Webster City rode a bicycle into the path of a motorcycle; a southeast Iowa bicyclist was struck at 9 p.m. and was reported to be wearing dark clothing and did not have lights or reflectors; and a 77-year-old Paullina man turned into the path of oncoming traffic.


The remaining five crashes were bicyclists struck from behind by motor vehicles near Sycamore, Nashua, West Liberty, North Liberty and Glenwood.


The Glenwood crash occurred during the Register’s Annual Great Bicycle Ride Across Iowa – RAGBRAI.


Wayne L. Ezell, 72, of Jacksonville, Florida, was pronounced dead at the scene after a wreck occurred around 6:40 a.m. on July 24 on U.S. Highway 34, according to the Iowa State Patrol.


Ezell was likely on his way to the Missouri River to dip his bicycle wheels in the stream before starting the 2016 weeklong Register’s Annual Great Bicycle Ride Across Iowa. Riders traditionally dip their tires in the Missouri and the Mississippi Rivers at the start and end of their journey.


Sgt. Jason Bailey with the Council Bluffs Police Department noted there were no fatal bicycle accidents in the city in 2016. The last fatal wreck came in 2015.


On Sept. 8, 2015, David Ryder, 54, died after a 2002 Ford Explorer driven by Stephanie Kenealy hit him from behind while he was riding his bicycle in the area of South 35th Street and 14th Avenue.


Both vehicles were heading northbound on South 35th Street during a rainstorm that caused low visibility, and the crash occurred about a half a block north of 14th Avenue. According to Council Bluffs police, Kenealy left the scene of the accident before returning 45 to 55 minutes later.


Kenealy was arrested and in August of this year the 29-year-old was sentenced to two years of probation and also granted a deferred judgment after she pleaded guilty to one count of leaving the scene of a fatality accident, a Class D felony.


Bailey encouraged both bicyclists and motorists to use caution and be alert while on the road.


“Both sides have to keep an eye on the road and what’s going on around them,” he said. “Drivers have to keep an eye out for bicyclists, and bicyclists have to follow the rules of the road.


“We often see people that aren’t your typical ‘bike riders’ not following the rules of the road. They have to obey those laws.”


In a statement on the 2016 numbers, the coalition said “fatal bicycle crashes have reached critical levels in Iowa.”


The report notes that Iowa has a similar amount of fatal bicycle crashes as Wisconsin, despite nearly twice as many residents living in the Badger State. The coalition has advocated a legislative bill which would make the driver of a motor vehicle passing a bicyclist change to the left lane completely to avoid them.


Such a bill passed the Iowa Senate in 2015 but failed to make it out of a House committee.


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