Bike safety law likely dead this year, so what are the rules?

Updated to include Mark Wyatt’s response and a note about CRPD’s prompt followup call:

Iowa’s proposed bike safety legislation is [very likely] dead for this year, according to reports by James Q. Lynch.

Let us hope the motorists who see bicyclists as a nuisance don’t think it’s open season on us.

To help remind people that there are some existing rules of the road and that people are still required to drive safely, I emailed the following questions this morning to Cedar Rapids Police Chief Greg Graham, Mark Wyatt of the Iowa Bicycle Coalition and Milly Ortiz, Iowa DOT bicycle/pedestrian coordinator.

  • What are motorists legally required to do when overtaking a bicyclist on an Iowa roadway?
  • Is there a minimum safe distance by which motorists are required to pass bicyclists?
  • Do bicyclists have a legal right to be on most Iowa roads and streets?

I’ll post any responses I get. Meantime, please review this earlier post about sharing the road.

And be careful out there.

Mark Wyatt responded by email:

These items are already in the Iowa Code.  We have found that people can be charged with these items, but the defense is given an advantage to argue the bicycle is not a vehicle.  321.234 says bicyclists have the same rights and duties of drivers of motor vehicles and the Iowa Supreme Court has upheld that.

Right now, legal following and passing distances is “safe and reasonable”.

CRPD Sgt. Cory McGarvey called:

Almost as quickly as Mark responded by email, Sgt. McGarvey called me to see if it was necessary for CRPD to respond if DOT was going to. When I said that I would like to know what CRPD has to say on the subject anyway, he said he would follow up in the next week or two. I’ll add that info when I get it.

Correction 4/1/09:

I’ve been reminded that the bill isn’t clinically dead until the final gavel.


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