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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!


  1. Schley Cox

    Had a good time in Clear Lake. People were nice. Transportation was efficient. Food was good. Weather was superb. I don’t know if the city fathers and mothers took credit for the weather or not. I agree with the award choice.

  2. Ryan

    The coffee shop was epic! The town had a leaky water tower (Maybe on purpose?) that felt great to stand under and get rained on during the sunny day. Herky was roaming around hyping up football fans and kids. Also, I would like to thank whoever owned the unlocked truck that i slept in after my tent flooded from the sudden downpour that night. Great town!

  3. Mark Andrews

    Congratulation to Clear Lake. I’m amaze that there’s a place like this. I wish I could visit it, and experienced how beautiful it is.

  4. Jeff

    I actually thought many of the people from clear lake acted like we the riders were a nuisance. I have a feeling though, that these people owned time shares and were just a bit “put out” that we ruined their day. Did have a good time downtown that night though!

  5. Brian

    Our group’s experience in Clear Lake was not all that great. One thing that really irked us was that the local outdoor pool closed early (we were told it was so the staff could go downtown for the evening). The pool also raised its prices for that one day above what was advertised on its website. We were not impressed.

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