The Clinton Herald, Clinton, Iowa

July 21, 2012

READER'S LETTER: Be safe on RAGBRAI


Letter to the Editor

CLINTON — It was a crisp March day eight years ago. I had just cycled to Thomson, Ill., and back, and was coming off the North Bridge for home.

Instead I decided to head north to the bike path and get a few additional miles in.

I was zooming along on Garfield Street coming up to the intersection of 23rd Avenue North and Garfield. I spied a truck approaching the stop sign to my right.

Since the truck appeared to be slowing down to stop at the stop sign and I had no stop sign on Garfield, I assumed that the truck would indeed stop and look both ways before crossing the street where I was riding.

Big mistake.

The driver paused, looked to her right and then proceeded to accelerate across the intersection where yours truly was riding. Let me tell you, it’s pretty scary when you know you are about to get hit but there is nothing you can do to stop it.

Long story short, I suffered a broken ankle, a broken kneecap and a broken wrist, which had me laid up for six weeks and unable to go to work. Had I not been wearing a helmet, my injuries could have been much worse.

So why am I telling you this story?

We live in a world of distraction. Drivers are continually distracted by the latest phone, their to-do list or other passengers.  

As you prepare for and ride in RAGBRAI, never, ever assume that cars are paying attention and will stop for you just because you have the right-of-way. Take it from someone who assumed wrong and suffered because of it. When a bicycle collides with a car or truck the bicycle always loses.  

When you are driving a motor vehicle, remember that a bicycle has the same right to the road as your car or truck, and you must watch for and yield to the bicycle just like you would for another motor vehicle.  It is for certain that you as a driver will likely not be seriously injured in a crash with a bicycle, but you will be liable for the injury and damages to the cyclist if you did not yield for them.

Please be extra cautious this RAGBRAI season.

LuAnn Larson,

Clinton