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Daryl Hasche didn't see the cyclists in time to avoid the crash.

He'd just crested a small hill on his Harley-Davidson motorcycle near his home in northwest Iowa. The speed limit was 55 mph. The five teenage girls were riding side by side. It was dark. And their bikes did not have any lights.

"By the time my headlights hit their reflectors, it was too late," said Hasche, who escaped injury in the accident. Three of the cyclists were taken by ambulance to a local hospital for injuries.

Hasche was not charged. He paid a $60,000 civil settlement to one of the cyclists.

Now, nearly five years later, he is speaking out about the wreck to encourage more cyclists to use bike lamps, and to bring the issue to the attention of Iowa lawmakers.

State law requires a bicycle rider to use a front-lighted lamp when it's dark outside. However, cyclists may choose between a red lamp or a red reflector for the rear of the bike.

"I’m just flabbergasted a bicyclist in Iowa can ride down a blacktop road at night without having a red light on the back," Hasche said. "It’s dangerous. It’s an accident waiting to happen."

The Rock Rapids farmer drove 4½ hours to attend the Iowa Bike Summit and Expo this weekend at the Iowa Events Center in Des Moines. He wanted to meet some cycling advocates and share his story.

"I am definitely going to be talking … to some of these people who sell bicycles because, in my opinion, if they sell a bicycle that doesn’t have a white light on front and red light on the back, they’re selling an unsafe piece of equipment," Hasche said prior to the event.

A proposal to require Iowa bicycle riders to have a rear-facing light between sunset and sunrise stalled in the Iowa Senate last week, but a similar proposal still could be introduced through the Iowa House Transportation Committee this session.

Rep. John Wills, R-Spirit Lake, said the bill's language has not been finalized, but it would require flashing rear-facing lights on bicycles between sunset and sunrise. The bill could also require cyclists to use a slow-moving vehicle flag at all times.

The flag is required for farm equipment and mopeds, Wills said — why not bicycles?

The bill could end up attached to other proposed legislation requiring drivers to change lanes when passing bicyclists. Drivers have to see bicyclists before they can change lanes, Wills said.

That makes sense to Hasche, who attaches flashing warning lights when pulling large farm equipment on Iowa roads.


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Lights, fine. Flag, no.

#1 - mvoss16 posted Jan 25, 2017


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