Story County

Story County Supervisors voted Tuesday to restrict temporary structures and vendors in the county right of way. 60 feet to each side of the center line. Subject to 14 day review. so any vendor would have to set up on private property 60 feet or more from the center line.

9 Replies

KenH, May 31, 2018 at 3:05 pm

Seems to me that the nomadic vendors who follow the route should form an industry group that can work with towns and counties to address their concerns and try to reach a statewide set of rules. If they don’t or if they try and fail they will shortly face as many rule structures to comply with as there are counties in Iowa. This movement among the counties seems to be gathering momentum, not dying out. It must be based on real or perceived issues/inequities.


BarryTantlinger, May 31, 2018 at 8:53 pm

That’s a shame. These types of things are shortsighted by counties and I fear will negatively impact RAGBRAI going forward.


David Acheson, May 31, 2018 at 11:58 pm

Much ado about nothing. Measuring from the centerline: 10 to 12 feet of lane + 3 to 5 feet of shoulder + 10 to 20 feet of ditch means approximately 25′ to 35′ of ROW is unusable anyway. Being another 30 feet back isn’t going to make them invisible or in accessible and may just prevent the blob of bikes in the road impeding those riding by. In my experience, most of the popular vendors are that far off the road already.


Larry Klaaren, June 1, 2018 at 7:16 am

It is all about lawsuits. Anything you permit, you have liability for. If you allow them to set up in whatever way, you have a legal liability. But really, if you are biking 500 miles, you can walk or ride twenty more feet a few times.

This reply was modified 2 years, 7 months ago by Larry Klaaren.


jwsknk, June 1, 2018 at 8:46 am

this really only covers about 13 miles over the 2 days. Day 1 4 miles and one of those is a downhill and right back up on the edge of town before crossing highway 30. Almost all of the land from Ames to Nevada is in one of the twos city li9mits, about 2 of the 5 on the south side of the road is not. Then 5 1/2 to Colo. After that 4 miles to Marshall County. 60 feet from centerline will keep vendors out of field drives and from parking on a side road to set up. R38 into Ames and E41 out to Nevada both have bike lanes, so it’s probably 18-20 from center line to ditch. The problem this doesn’t solve, if it’s a problem, is people parking their bikes on the shoulder and ditches and standing in the road waiting on a group and waiting for a break to get in.


Chad Frana, June 1, 2018 at 10:04 am

My two cents, the problem is not the vendors. Its the bikes and riders that are blocking the road. I don’t think this will solve the issue. People will still just drop their bike in the ditch right next to the road. I am assuming the thought is, if they push the vendors farther from the road, the bikes will follow. But I think the bikes will be in the same spot, the people will just have to walk farther.


KenH, June 1, 2018 at 10:32 am

No, a 60 foot setback is not particularly problematic although it could prevent vendors from using some farm yards. I own some property in rural Illinois and the building setback there is 75 feet so this a common distance although many farm homes would have been built before there were any such regulations.

The thing is that we’ve now had four counties talk about taking action this year to control the RAGBRAI crowds. Three have recently taken or proposed new limitations on roadside vendors. And then some months back the Sheriff of one county said he would charge RAGBRAI a fee to cover his costs if it came through his county and he would instruct his deputies to strictly enforce the traffic regulations against every cyclist. Not sure if he has the authority to do the first and good luck with the second!

But there is a pattern here and we, the Register, and the vendors need to take this seriously if we want to see RAGBRAI continue. In each case similar concerns have been mentioned to justify taking the actions that have been proposed. If you ever read any article about RAGBRAI online from local Iowa news outlets you should take the time to read the comments that are posted to it, if any. Yeah, a lot of Iowans love the event as much as we do and look forward to having it pass through their towns from time to time. But there are some who hate it and us with the white hot passion of 10,000 suns! Their comments are often mean and hateful but they do have a point, or at least some of them do.

We riders really do need to do a better job of obeying traffic rules. We ought to be prepared to stop and give a break to motorists who have been waiting a long time to turn left across our path. We need to be more cooperative with motorists who need to pass us. We need to be more respectful of pedestrians in the towns we ride through. There is probably a list of other things we could do to make our presence more palatable to those Iowans who dread our appearance in their towns and highways. We can’t make them all happy but they are not all wrong either.

I think the vendors need to organize and find a way to participate in the planning process rather than trying to enlist us as a mob of thugs to keep the status quo. Surely there are solutions to any legitimate concerns that counties have about them that will work well for everyone. Many vendors are from Iowa so their profits stay in Iowa. Some vendors are from out of state but some riders are from out of state too so it is not unfitting that out of state vendors participate in the event unless they come to dominate it. But the local vendors must have a fair chance at competing against the nomadic vendors for our dollars because it is the success of local vendors that drives much of RAGBRAI’s support among the towns and counties. We must not let them be buried by competition from outsiders.

The Register needs to play a role in this too but I am not worried about them because clearly they are already doing their job and doing it quite well.


Zeb S, June 1, 2018 at 11:37 am

I grew up in the Midwest, in Nebraska. I’ve ridden 18 times, this year would be my 19th ride. I came on board before the TJ days, when this event was just as big ridership wise, but a lot more fun.

Reading that article from the Ames Trib, as well as articles written about the Monona and Crawford county board meetings, I’m struck how concerned these supervisors are about “rider safety.” That’s a nice catch all term, isn’t it?

How has RAGBRAI existed for almost 50 decades without these vendor permitting and location regulations that are couched in the terms of “rider safety”? I thought Iowans believed in small gubmint, couldn’t the actions of these boards be construed as the “nanny state” rearing it’s ugly head? How can these riders possibly stay safe if they might mingle on a county road with parked bikes?

I know there are some arguing here about specifics, about distances from the centerline and on specific roads, but Ken has the right idea; this is about the concept of these regulations and were they stem from. Are these county board members business owners and if so, what kind of businesses and where? I honestly don’t know but wouldn’t that be worth knowing if it’s influencing public policy?

This feels to like the beginning of the end. Nothing lasts forever, but the average age of this ride has gone up ever since I came on board. It needs the involvement of a younger crowd to keep it alive and what is there for the youngsters?

Personally, I view this as social event that contains a bit of bike riding and the fitter one is, the more fun it is. I don’t need to stop at all during the day, I choose to if I want to and I’m grateful for every vendor every where. I’d never impose my opinion on other riders. I know there are many who aren’t as fit as me, there are those who will choose to stop at different places and vendors as me and that is what is so great about this event; you ride it as you want and let others ride it as they want as long as everyone gets across the state without getting hurt.

Cheers and be well everyone.


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