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  • Mon September 08 2008
  • Posted Sep 8, 2008
Gordon Wolf 09/05/2008 The Crawford County Board of Supervisors will discuss and possibly take action on lifting its ban against the Registers Annual Great Bike Ride Across Iowa (RAGBRAI) at its meeting next Tuesday. The decision to place the issue on next week's agenda came after the Des Moines Register agreed to rewrite its RAGBRAI participation waiver and to purchase a $2 million insurance policy to cover counties that the ride goes through. On Tuesday the supervisors conducted a telephone conversation with David Vestal, attorney for the Iowa State Association of Counties, discussing the RAGBRAI wavier and insurance policy. The waiver is signed by registered participants of RAGBRAI. The $2 million insurance policy covers the unregistered participants who ride along with RAGBRAI, Vestal explained. "I think they (the Register) are doing everything it can do," Vestal told the supervisors. He emphasized that the new waiver and the insurance policy only covers RAGBRAI events. It does not cover any other bike ride. "Do you feel we're covered with RAGBRAI, that we could lift the ban?" asked supervisor Dan Muhlbauer from Manilla. "I do," Vestal responded. "Are we covered so we won't get sued?" Muhlbauer continued. "It's not that you're not going to get sued. It's that you will have protection with the insurance policy," Vestal responded. Vestal added later that the wavier has proved to be very effective. The problem is the remaining people, the non-registered riders, which is where the insurance coverage kicks in. Muhlbauer asked Vestal if next week the county were to lift the ban, that the county could say other bike groups are welcome as long as they provide coverage. "That's a decision you will have to make," Vestal responded. County Auditor Cecilia Fineran asked if the county is making RAGBRAI provide insurance, shouldn't it also make other organized rides provide insurance? Supervisors decided that County Engineer Paul Assman should be included in the discussion about lifting the ban. Supervisors talked about having input from an attorney, mentioning the county attorney or Rick Franck, who has also handled legal matters for the county. Last October the supervisors approved a resolution which banned RAGBRAI and similar events from traveling on Crawford County's roads, pointing out that the paved roadways are maintained to meet standards related to vehicular travel, and have performed quite well under this maintenance regime, but are not maintained to meet any specific standard for bicycle travel. The ban followed a settlement by ICAP (Iowa Communities Assurance Pool), the county's liability insurance carrier, with the widow of Kirk Ullrich of Davenport, who was fatally injured in an accident on Crawford County Road E16 while participating in the 2004 RAGBRAI event. Betty Jo Ullrich received a $350,000 settlement. Betty Jo Ullrich will also receive a $50,000 settlement from the State of Iowa. She had sued the state for $1.6 million. According to an August 8 letter signed by Jeffrey S. Thompson, Iowa Assistant Attorney General, sent to Judy Meyer of the State Appeal Board, the State has agreed to pay the Ullrich family $50,000 in exchange for a full release and indemnification and dismissal of the claims with prejudice. Betty Jo Ullrich had claimed the State was negligent in failing to warn her husband of the road hazard that caused his accident and ultimately his death. The State Appeal Board was expected to act on the settlement today (Friday).

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