On the Radio – UI researcher works to understand bicycle fatalities


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Hamann has found that bicycle specific infrastructure, such as bicycle lanes, can help reduce fatalities. (Danielle Scott/flickr)
Jenna Ladd| June 26, 2017

This week’s On The Radio segment discusses Dr. Cara Hamann’s research into the increasing number of bicycle fatalities in Iowa.

Transcript: Deaths of Iowa bicyclists have risen by 260 percent in the last four years, and Dr. Cara Hamann of the University of Iowa is working to do something about it.

This is the Iowa Environmental Focus.

Hamann, an associate professor of epidemiology at the UI College of Public Health, and her team of researchers explored the relationship between motor vehicle driving behavior and bicycle crashes. The scientists attached GPS and video-recording equipment to bicyclists to capture first-hand data and performed simulations using the National Advanced Driving Simulator, located on the University of Iowa campus.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 3,477 people were killed in bicycle crashes in 2015. Hamann explained that most fatal crashes happen when motor vehicles strike bicyclists.

For more information about Dr. Hamann’s research, visit Iowa-environmental-focus-dot-org.

From the UI Center for Global and Regional Environmental Research, I’m Betsy Stone.

Cooler temps offer needed relief for RAGBRAI bikers


Cyclists ride through rural Iowa during RAGBRAI (Dave Herholz/Flickr)
Cyclists ride through rural Iowa during RAGBRAI (Dave Herholz/Flickr)

After enduring two days of high temperatures and gusting winds, RAGBRAI cyclists will get a much-needed reprieve from the heat during Wednesday’s leg of the ride.

Today’s RAGBRAI route takes bikers from Forest City to Mason City, a distance of 38.5 miles. Conditions in both cities are dry and mild, with comfortable temperatures and low wind. Cyclists were greeted in Forest City yesterday by above-average temperatures and wind gusts at up to 30 miles per hour. The National Weather Service issued a heat advisory for western Iowa Monday and Tuesday which was lifted Tuesday night.

With average summer temperatures in Iowa expected to increase over the next few decades, RAGBRAI will become even more challenging for bikers who make the trek across the state. Extreme heat combined with exercise can cause elevated heart rate, and increased sweating can lead to dehydration and electrolyte depletion, putting even more strain on the heart. A respected cyclist suffered a fatal heart attack during Monday’s RAGBRAI route, the first cyclist to die during RAGBRAI since 2010.

UI receives honorable mention from Bicycle Friendly University program


Photo by 350.org, Flickr.

The University of Iowa has received an honorable mention from the Bicycle Friendly University (BFU) program.

BFU judges schools based on how they promote bicycling through engineering, encouragement, education, enforcement and evaluation/planning. Bronze, silver, gold and platinum awards are given out to the colleges and universities who receive high scores in each of the five categories.

In the upcoming year, the University of Iowa hopes to improve their designation by offering a bike repair course and training instructors to teach bicycle safety and skills, developing a plan for bike repair stations on campus, forming a bike advocacy student group and by increasing education about bike resources.

Read more here.

Iowa City musicians advocate for the environment during RAGBRAI


Photo by channone, Flickr.

A pair of Iowa City musicians used RAGBRAI to help promote environmental advocacy.

Elliott Beenk and Griffen Harris make up the “indie-beach-blues” band Chasing Shade. Harris is a University of Iowa graduate, and Beenk is going into his senior year at UI.

They rode RAGBRAI with all of their music equipment attached to their bikes using custom-built trailers. These trailers included portable solar panels, which collected energy to power the musicians’ performances during the ride.

Read more Beenk and Harris’ experience here.

Iowa Geological & Water Survey analyzes RAGBRAI route in brochures and podcasts


RAGBRAI riders in Orange City. Photo by mrsdkrebs, Flickr.

The Iowa Geological & Water Survey website has released a series of brochures and podcasts detailing the nature RAGBRAI riders are traversing this week.

The podcasts contain interviews with multiple geologists and other environmental experts. The brochures focus mainly on the geology of each day’s route.

Both the brochures and the podcasts are available here.

Environmental focus on RAGBRAI’s hosts: Sioux Center


Photo by dwcouch, Flickr,

Over the summer we will highlight the environmental efforts of RAGBRAI’s host communities.

The seven-day bike ride across Iowa begins in Sioux Center on July 21st. Sioux Center has implemented a series of initiatives in recent years to better the city’s environment.

Since 2009, Sioux Center has hosted an annual E-Cycle Event focusing on the proper disposal of recyclable electronics. This past year, 27,334 lbs of electronics were recycled.

Sioux Center is also active in addressing energy concerns. The city offers discounted home energy audits to limit energy waste and lower energy bills. Sioux Center also offers a wind energy option for homes through their RiverWinds program.

Learn more about Sioux Center from the city’s website here.

New trail will connect Cedar River Trail to Marion


Photo by sgt fun, Flickr.

The Corridor Metropolitan Planning Organization is committing $2.5 million in 2016 to connect Cedar Rapids’ Cedar River Trail to Marion.

The connecting segment will be 2.8-miles long. Overall, the Corridor Metropolitan Planning Organization is using 80 percent of its 2016 funds on trails and bike lanes.

There is also a need to repair some parts of the current Cedar River Trail. These repairs would require an additional $1.3 million.

Read more from The Gazette here.