DAVENPORT, Iowa – Iowa is wrapping up this year as one of the deadliest for bicyclists. 11 cyclists have died while riding this year, the highest in more than a decade. Iowa hasn't seen this many cycling deaths since 2005 and it's the most since 2010 where eight cyclist died while riding.
Local cycling organizations say if laws don't change the number rise. That's why they are taking action that could make driving and cycling safer.
Almost every day, Joe Longoria rides 10 miles to and from work at Jerry and Sparky’s Bicycle Shop in Davenport.
“I've always had a passion for cycling and it started 38 years ago. You become familiar with the route you know the road characteristics,” says Longoria.
With all the miles and years Longoira put on the road, he says he sees dangers first hand.
“I’ve often found cars making left hand turns often don't see you. I was keeping a straight line on my piece of the road and a moving truck came within inches. I was flabbergasted,” remembers Longoria.
Close calls are why organizations like the Iowa Bicycle Coalition are pushing for laws that could make cycling safer. One law would require cars passing cyclists to change lanes.
“It's easy for a driver to follow. When you approach a bicycle the first thing you do is slow down and change lanes when it's safe and pass safely,” says Mark Wyatt with the Iowa Bicycle Coalition.
The bill passed the Iowa senate last year but didn't make it in the house. The coalition plans to try again in 2017 but push harsher penalties for distracted drivers.
“We are still very concerned about text messaging. Our members have expressed that drivers who are distracted by electronics are a big problem,” says Wyatt.
Longoria says he'd like to see the laws change and will continue to advocate for safe bike riding and sharing the road with motorists.
“We aren't quite there yet but it's getting better,” added Longoria.
Opponents question the safety of cars lining up behind a slow moving bicycle until it's clear to pass. Supporters say it will ensure enough room on the roads for motorists and cyclists.
In 2015 Iowa was 28 on the list of the most bike friendliest states. Illinois scored 14.