Advocacy in action: community opposes Iowa County ordinance

Storystream:
Ordinance could mean an end to organized rides in Iowa County

Last night, I had the opportunity to testify in front of the Iowa County Transportation Committee at their monthly meeting in Dodgeville, WI. The concern from the community was so poignant that the Committee had to change locations to accommodate a larger audience. Even after moving down the street to a larger auditorium, space was at a premium with over 100 folks from all over the region packing the meeting to show their resolve against this proposed ordinance, and testify as to why this would negatively impact their business or event. Testimony lasted for over thirty-five minutes which is uncommon for this type of committee in this region, and did not include a single testimonial for the proposed ordinance. I was pleased to see such a diverse group of community stakeholders on hand to share their perspective and remind the committee that this ordinance would have a lasting negative impact, not just on bicycling in Iowa County, but also on the local economy. Folks from the Iowa County Economic Corporation and Dodgeville Chamber of Commerce, along with local business owners like Jeff “Potsie” Weber, who manages the Dodgeville Piggly Wiggly grocery store echoed concern that this ordinance would result in economic hardship for businesses in the region. Alongside small business owners, local motorcycle clubs, and avid cyclists from cross the region – the committee heard a resounding message – do not pass this ordinance.

Video of the meeting, via WMTV15:

Motorcycle and bicycle ride organizers made it clear that this ordinance would either force them to move their rides elsewhere, or continue to produce them but limit their impact on the community, and this contribution is immense. Just one of the many rides that pass through Iowa County, the Dairyland Dare, has raised over $100,000 for organizations in Iowa County.

The committee, after hearing all of this compelling testimony and noting for the record that they had received over 250 emails from concerned constituents – spent a significant amount of time discussing how to move forward with the proposed ordinance. Much to our delight, Curt Peterson, Iowa County Supervisor, made the motion to send the ordinance to a sub-committee that would include community stakeholders, as well as elected officials with the hopes of addressing concerns and producing a better ordinance.

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2 thoughts on “Advocacy in action: community opposes Iowa County ordinance

  1. My letter on the ordinance is below. From my reading of the proposal it looked like if any group of riders “planned” a day of cycling in Iowa County they would be breaking the law unless they complied with all the stipulations and got approval.

    My name is Phil Van Valkenberg. I have been involved in cycling tourism for over 40 years, in many cases in Iowa County. I have authored eight privately published books on cycling as well as seven editions of the Wisconsin Biking Guide for the Department of Tourism. All have included cycling opportunities in Iowa County. I’ve been involved in many cycling events there as well beginning with the Two Tyred Wheelmen Cycling Club Olympic Development Race in 1972. You can see my cycling resume at: http://www.trailgenius.com/team/phil-van-valkenberg.

    I have read with interest and some concern the proposed Highway Access for Special Events Ordinance. While it is clear that considerable effort went into drafting it, and, I would imagine, its purpose reflects local concerns, I have to question the intent and legality of a number of points. Some seem to me overly broad and some potentially capricious. Terms like “nuisances” and “menace” seem inappropriate.

    The definition (F.) of Special Event in particular appears to encompass events with no entry fees and little formal organization which may be merely publicized through the internet or other simple means such as word of mouth. Restrictions and requirements within the ordinance would unfairly interfere with legitimate rights to gather and use the public roads. Considering public sources of funding this would likely open up Iowa County to legal challenges should the ordinance pass as it stands.

    In addition I have heard directly (from a friend involved in organizing high-profile cycling events) and indirectly that event organizers have not been contacted to solicit their input prior to the drafting of the ordinance. This seems to me an ill-advised approach to addressing the concerns that may exist especially considering the economic impact of events and the attendant additional tourism they generate by showcasing the county.

    My recommendation is to open communications with for-fee event organizers and other groups using the Iowa County highways to work out a reasonable ordinance that would create a win-win situation for all.

  2. Tom, thank you for going to this meeting in Dodgeville and reporting back on it. This is a great example of why we need a Wisconsin Bike Fed. The Bike Fed’s outreach and advocacy played a big part in the 100+ meeting attendees and 250+ emails, I’m sure.

    Interesting that with all that public testimony, no one in favor of the ordinance took the time to attend the meeting and testify in support of it. Makes you wonder …

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