Gimme 5 feet, and don’t screw with the beer jerseys…

If cyclists all had to wear yellow, I’d have to give up my beer jerseys. No way, baby.

That particular threat to individual liberty was the recommendation of Iowa State Rep. Clel Baudler.

Just imagine the far-reaching impact. Picture RAGBRAI, if you can, with 10,000 people apparently all on the same team, all wearing the coveted maillot jaune.

We can’t all finish in the top spot on the podium, Clel.

The real news – courtesy of the Iowa Bicycle Coalition – had to do with some welcome progress on cycling safety legislation, to wit:

Early Thursday, Senate File 117, the bicycle safety and responsibilities bill, passed subcommittee.  The bicycle safety and responsibilities bill requires bicyclists to obey traffic signs and signals, requires that vehicles give bicyclists five feet of space when passing, and makes it illegal to intentionally drive too close to or throw objects at people who ride bicycles.

Senate File 177 was passed by the Iowa Senate in 2009 and assigned to the Human Resource committee.  Members of the committee have worked with bicycle advocates over the interim to amend the language of the bill.  The amended language retains some of the proposals from the original bill, but also adds responsibilities for the cyclists.

A concern was raised by Representative Baudler (R-Greenfield) about bicyclists visibility.  Baudler has recommended that all bicyclists wear yellow clothing.  Such a requirement hasn’t been enacted in any other states and is not contained in the Uniform Vehicle Code.  Bicyclists are required to have lights and reflectors after dark according to current Iowa Code.  They must be visible for 300 feet at night.

“There are not crash statistics that support the yellow clothing proposal,” says Mark Wyatt, executive director of the Iowa Bicycle Coalition.  “Visibility might be an issue for automobile or pedestrian crashes, but we don’t have an effort to require every car to be yellow or every pedestrian to wear a yellow jacket.”

Senate File 117 must be considered by the full Human Resources Committee, then the House of Representatives, and finally the amendment must be approved by the Iowa Senate before it is sent to the governor to sign into law.

Pedal on.

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