As spring approaches and the weather warms, more bicycles will be on the road. Proposed legislation in the Iowa Senate can make our roads safer for bicyclists and motorists.
Under the bill, when motorists approach bicyclists from behind, they must pass using the adjacent lane. This strengthens current law by clarifying that drivers must pass bicycles the same way they pass other cars. Allowing a bicyclist this extra room will save lives, as 50 percent of all fatal bike crashes happen when a vehicle passes a cyclist.
Additionally, the bill improves bicycle visibility by making a rear bike light mandatory after dark. All bikes would be required to have a rear light visible from 300 feet between dusk and dawn. Current law requires a bicycle to have a front lighted lamp and either a rear lighted lamp OR rear reflector at any time from sunset to sunrise, and whenever conditions make it impossible to be seen at a distance of 500 feet.
A 2012 Iowa Attorney General opinion stated that a bicycle is a vehicle. That means bicycles have a right to use Iowa’s roads, and the rules for overtaking and passing other vehicles apply to overtaking and passing of bicycles. It also means that bicyclists must follow the same rules of the road as motorists.
This bill has been approved by the Senate Transportation Committee and is now eligible for debate by the full Senate.