RAGBRAI message board stirs controversy - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

RAGBRAI message board stirs controversy

WATERLOO (KWWL)--- We're just a few weeks away from when RAGBRAI cyclists will make their way into Waterloo.  But before any pedaling has even started, some people are threatening to protest a place that's set to host more than 10,000 bikers.

An online RAGBRAI message board started the controversy, following a bicycle ban in a small Colorado community. Some of those folks are accusing the community of enforcing the ban because of pressure from a local casino business.  The Lady Luck Casino in Black Hawk, Col. Is owned by the same company as the Isle Casino in Waterloo.  And that's when the conflict with RAGBRAI riders began. 

This protest in Denver is in response to a ban imposed by the city of Black Hawk, Col.  The city recently passed an ordinance that prohibits anyone from riding a back on several city streets.  Outraged cyclists in Denver responded by taking their message to the state capital Tuesday.

"It's not fair," one cyclist said.

"And I think it could actually hurt tourism in other parts of the state," another cyclist said.

And the ripple effects of that Colorado ban could be felt here in Waterloo.  This RAGBRAI online message board's been lighting up, with people angry over the Colorado ordinance, and its rumored ties to the casinos.  As a result, many of the posters are now threatening to boycott the Waterloo Isle Casino.  Local RAGBRAI organizers are just hoping the casino controversy doesn't stop anyone from participating in the Waterloo cycling event.

"You know we're just going to keep doing what we're planning on doing.  We feel like we've got a great plan in place entertainment wise both on and off site. People are going to enjoy themselves when they're here in Waterloo," said Aaron Buzza, RAGBRAI executive committee member.

And with nearly a month to go before RAGBRAI riders get here, organizers say the fire behind the message posts might fizzle out.  Even if it doesn't, there may only be a handful of people upset enough to actually protest the casino during RAGBRAI. 

We reached out to the Isle of Capri Casino in Waterloo and they referred us to company headquarters in St. Louis.  A spokesperson for the company didn't want to release a statement or grant an interview.  But she did say the company only learned of how upset the cyclists were through the internet.  She also says the casino welcomes and encourages cyclists, and that the company had nothing to do with enacting the Colorado ban.  Anyone with concerns about that should address them to the city of Black Hawk. 

As for the city of Black Hawk, Col., it apparently has no plans to reverse its bicycle ban.  Since enacting the new ordinance in January, at least eight tickets have been issued to bikers for pedaling in prohibited areas.

KWWL Reporter:  Kera Mashek

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