Fri, Sep 28, 2012 | by TJ JuskiewiczShare
The RIDE RIGHT Community Safety Award is presented each year to the town that best promoted bicycle safety events and improved the safety level for riders in their community before and during RAGBRAI. Sioux Center really went all out for visiting cyclists arriving at RAGBRAI in an effort to ensure a safe and enjoyable ride for all.
Ardith Lein, the town’s chamber director, and Paul Adkins, the chief of police, have been involved with every RAGBRAI that has rolled out of Sioux Center. The community had successfully hosted the ride in 1990, 1996 and 2002 and was up for the challenge again in 2012. Lein and Adkins once again lead the local organizing committee, combining past experience with a dose of youthful community leaders.
The community focused on the safety of the riders and townspeople while still putting on a fun event for all. Each RAGBRAI meeting brought together local police, fire, emergency management and other safety officials planning ways to insure the safest possible event. The planning paid off as very few incidents occurred while thousands of cyclists converged on the Northwest Iowa town of 7,048 residents.
In early June, the statewide RIDE RIGHT committee held its official inspection ride that was joined by thirty Sioux Center area cyclists. Part of the task was to spot road imperfections and communicate with the county engineers and local officials. The local riders joined the team for the Sioux Center to Cherokee route. The committee also planned to assist RAGBRAI officials with the pre-ride RIDE RIGHT safety video showings and Driver Safety Meetings the day before the ride started.
One of the big challenges was directing the Sunday morning bicycle route through the heart of the community. How could 10,000-plus bikes roll through downtown and south on the town’s busiest street, Highway 75? The bike route became a parade route as town’s people lined the streets to wish RAGBRAIers well as they head out on the 471 mile trek across the street.
Various Sioux Center committees and volunteers worked to decorate the route in and out of town with flair and safety messages for the departure. Giant American flags flew from boom trucks and banners decorated light poles, the streets were painted with the town’s logo, “It’s All Downhill from Here!” and residents came out to send the riders off.
Congratulations to Sioux Center on making RAGBRAI as safe and enjoyable as it can be!