On July 3rd, home security company ADT issued a ranking of cities and states on bicycle safety, calling Iowa as the most dangerous state for bicycling. The Iowa Bicycle Coalition disputes the results of the study calling it incomplete and inaccurate.
“While no fatal bike crash is acceptable, Iowa’s per capita fatal crashes rank 19th according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration,” stated Mark Wyatt, executive director of the Iowa Bicycle Coalition. States like Florida have 5.7 deaths per million residents, whereas Iowa has 1.7 deaths per million residents. On an annual basis, Florida has 110 deaths per year and California has 113 deaths per year. Iowa averages 5 bicyclist deaths per year.
The ADT study picked 10 Iowa cities for ranking, but those cities appear to be chosen at random. “The study chose 8 of Iowa’s most populated cities, but then chose Johnston and Webster City. I can’t find a fatal bike crash in those cities over the past decade,” says Wyatt. “It is difficult to understand why Webster City is more or less safe for bicycling than Los Angeles.”
The rankings compiled in the study were weighted, but Wyatt questions the methodology. “It seems to use a mix of state policies and local things like protected bike lanes. Each are given a weight multiplier, but we aren’t sure why. I give more authority to rankings from the League of American Bicyclists or PeopleForBikes.”
Despite the inaccuracies in the study, Wyatt says Iowa needs to pay more attention to bike safety. “We have been working for two years in the Iowa Legislature for a safe passing bill. We have been working with the Iowa DOT for three years on a state bike plan. These issues remain unresolved.” Recent efforts are underway with the Iowa DOT to complete a bike plan by fall. At least one city, Hudson, Iowa has adopted a local ordinance on safe passing. Finally, the Iowa Bicycle Coalition is launching a $20,000 media campaign addressing safe passing of bicyclists.