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Eleven people died in Iowa while riding bicycles in 2016, including nine cyclists who were struck by motor vehicles.

It was the highest number of cycling fatalities in the state in a decade, prompting politicians and bike advocates to call for changes to protect bicyclists.

"We were on a downward trend with three fatal crashes at one point. To see 11 is horrible," said Mark Wyatt, director of the Iowa Bicycle Coalition. "We need to take action to reverse this trend."

The coalition has tracked bicycle crash fatalities on its website since 2007, when there were four deaths. The most fatalities in any year since then was eight deaths in 2010.

Republican Gov. Terry Branstad has said cyclist and traffic fatalities would be "one of the major issues" addressed during his condition of the state speech on Tuesday. The governor has said Iowa needs to find ways to combat distracted, drowsy and intoxicated drivers on the state's roadways.

But what changes might be made is unclear as Branstad prepares to leave office to become U.S. ambassador to China. He will be succeeded by Lt. Gov. Kim Reynolds.

Reducing fatalities remains a top priority for cycling advocates. The coalition has an online petition that urges cyclists to contact their local legislators about their platform.

That includes pushing for a law that would require cars to change lanes when passing a cyclist. A similar bill passed the Democratic-controlled Senate last year, but died in the Republican-controlled House of Representatives. Republicans will control both chambers when the Legislature reconvenes Monday.


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