DES MOINES, Iowa — Each year the Iowa DOT publishes crash information involving bicycles, and how many fatal accidents occurred. In recent years there were at least ten fatal accidents in 2019, 2020, and 2021.
Last year there were only three fatalities, and so far in 2023, there have been no fatal accidents.
Today the Ride of Silence was held at locations around the state, including the East Village in Des Moines.
While there has been safety measures for bicycle riders, including a wide regional bike trail system, and bike lanes for downtown riders, there is still work to be done.
“There is less risk of a crash when someone’s riding in a bike lane because it’s a designated space for that person to ride,” said Cara Hamann, assistant professor of epidemiology at the University of Iowa. “You know there’s only a handful of places where we actually have on road bicycle lanes, so that introduces problems because where a lane ends in there you have to mix back in with the regular traffic, and that can cause conflict at those points.”
At the Des Moines Street & Collective, also known as the Des Moines Bicycle Collective, workers here commute to downtown from all over on bikes. They say Des Moines has a really good regional trail system.
“The problem is getting to it, and so I live in West Des Moines and I come down here using the Bill Riley and Meredith trails and once you get on those it’s a pretty easy shot, however, it’s getting to those trails.” said Bobby Kennedy of the Street and Collective.
“We can have safer set ups for cyclists like having separated facilities, like about a bike lane for cyclist to ride, like a protected bike lane so there’s actually a physical structure between the bike lane in the vehicle lanes. I think it’s going take a while.”
Those who take the trails and bike lanes say it’s those stretches where there is no clear path to ride is where danger lurks.
‘Lots of people live within like a mile or even three miles of original trails, but that doesn’t really matter if the three miles is the most blood-curdling three miles of your life,” Kennedy said.