RIDE RIGHT Community of the Year Award: Clear Lake
- 18 September, 2010
The RIDE RIGHT Community Award is presented each year to the town that best promoted safety events and improved the safety level for riders in their community during RAGBRAI. Clear Lake really went all out for visiting cyclists in an effort to ensure a safe and enjoyable experience for all.
Don Benes and Casey Martin headed up the Clear Lake RIDE RIGHT Committee, but they credit the entire committee and community for the success. “We started early and got everyone involved,” reflected Benes. “The residents, schools, businesses, the police, the county engineers… everyone was enthusiastic about making a difference.”
The town was already pretty bike friendly, but the committee took it to the next level. “I never seen so many people in town riding this year,” claimed Benes. You oftern saw bike safety stories run on local television and in the paper touting safety.
Benes credits Martin with rallying the local bicycle community. “Casey is so involved in cycling in the area and was able to pull people together.” The North Iowa Touring Club traditionally puts on one of the state’s top bike festivals in Clear Lake with their Bicycle, Blues and BBQ Festival, that was held in July. In addition, the committee hosted a bike rodeo for fifth grade elementary kids and had a fun ride to preview the RAGBRAI XXXVIII route from Clear Lake to Charles City.
Kids in Clear Lake observed biking correctly were stopped by the police and given a certificate for a free ice cream or snow cone. The Clear Lake RAGBRAI Ride Right committee worked with law enforcement to encourage safe and courteous bicycle riding including: obeying traffic laws, keeping to the right, wearing a helmet, using safe equipment, and displaying a positive attitude towards cycling.
Also new around town are several orange rectangular bicycle safety signs designed by Clear Lake High school students. The Ride Right Committee sponsored a bicycle safety sign contest for students in elementary through high school. Students were asked to design bicycle traffic signs that promote the goals of ‘Ride Right’ with a focus on simplicity, clarity and easy reading for bicyclists.
The community worked hard to continue that cycling legacy even after RAGBRAI was over. “I still see police officers handing out Dairy Queen treats for kids’ good riding habits and it is great to see the road signs that the students worked on,” stated Benes. Clear Lake’s Police Chief, Greg Peterson, headed up the town’s Law Enforcement Committee and was an integral part of the town’s safety plan. “We were happy to report that we were able to keep people safe during RAGBRAI,” recapped Chief Peterson.
In early June, the statewide RIDE RIGHT committee held its official inspection ride that was joined by many area cyclists. Part of the task was to spot road imperfections and communicate with the county engineers and local officials. “It was great working with Mary Kelly, the Cerro Gordo County engineer,” claimed Benes. “She made a difference in getting the roads ready for RAGBRAI.”
“We are so honored to be named the RIDE RIGHT Community of the Year!” stated an excited Diane Thompson, the chairwoman of the Clear Lake RAGBRAI Committee. “People in town are still talking about how great it was to host RAGBRAI.”
Congratulations to Clear Lake on making RAGBRAI as safe as it can be!
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